A husband and wife decide to adopt a young girl, unaware
that she's an unhinged psychopath with a dark secret.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman,
CCH Pounder, Jimmy Bennett, Aryana Engineer
I recently discovered that Orphan was partially inspired by a true story of a Norwegian woman who posed as a 13-year-old girl and inflicted horrific abuse on the family who adopted her. This discovery in turn inspired me to finally give this film a watch, particularly with the release of the film's prequel that's getting pretty decent reviews from critics and fans alike. And I must say, this is a wild film. Regrettably, I knew the film's big twist before I watched it, but even with that prior knowledge, the film is unpredictable and thrilling as hell. I don't know where those mixed reviews came from back in '09.
Kate (Farmiga) and John (Sarsgaard) are loving parents of two children: Daniel (Bennett) and his deaf little sister Max (Engineer). When their third child dies in utero, Kate sinks into a depression, and together, she and John decide to adopt a third child. At a local orphanage, they meet Esther (Fuhrman), an eccentric, sensitive, learned little nine-year-old who appears to be a perfect match for them. They adopt Esther, and that's when weird shit starts to happen. People around Esther get hurt, or they disappear, or they die. Soon, Kate realizes Esther is not who she appears to be, but nobody will believe her. If you know anything about the real story, then you know the twist, and it's a damn good one.
Orphan begins as a drama, evolves into a psychological thriller, and finishes off as a full-blown slasher. But all of it feels like genuine growth, none of it forced. Isabelle Furhman is incredible as Esther. She was only twelve when she did the movie, and now at twenty-five, she's starring in the prequel. I gotta check that out just to see how they pulled that off. But this film stands on its own as a largely misunderstood modern horror classic.