Disturbances in home and family life have been staple fodder for horror for as long as it’s been a genre and even murderous child tales are nothing terribly new, but when they’re done right they can be some of the scariest films because the whole concept of the ultimately innocent among us being raving lunatics capable of multiple homicides is in the very least alarming to the vast majority of us. In Orphan, the couple who adopt a young girl with a sweet Eastern European accent get a wee bit more than they’ve bargained for. All John and Kate (not to be confused with the TV couple Jon & Kate make 8 ) want is to help Kate get over the loss of their third child, a baby that did not survive child birth. When they visit an orphanage and find little Esther (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) they believe they have found the perfect addition to finish their happy little family. As it turns out, this particular orphan nearly finishes everyone in the family in fine form.
The little girl who plays Esther does a superb job of giving life to an incredibly creepy character and the accent she takes on for this role sounds more genuine than what she probably could have gotten away with, given her young age. Watching the family grow increasingly uneasy with their newest member is rather unnerving and most of that is due to the fact that there is a lot of tension between the family members which the ever sneaky Esther uses to her advantage. You really do witness the fabric of an upper end middle class family unravel in a way that’s as believable as ‘devil child’ movies get.
This is not The Omen and it’s not Bad Seed, but Orphan really does follow along in those footsteps, much to the irritation of certain critics. If you are looking to be blown away by incredibly depth of story then no, this isn’t your type of movie, but if you wanted a fun flick that features some stellar action from a little girl who’s even scarier than the creepy little lady in The Ring, then you’ve come to the right movie.
There’s plenty to like about the disturbed and downright sadistic Esther simply because she embodies all of the repressed fears that seem to be lurking beneath the surface when it comes to how little girls are perceived. You get the lying, the sweetly innocent denials of guilt, the vicious bullying, the brutality always enacted in secret – you get everything you could possibly fear about a young female predator who is too intelligent and too blood thirsty for her own good. Well, and your own good.
If you like a nice twist that doesn’t end up getting too over the top then you’ll love the ending to Orphan. The story’s general arc might be fairly easy to predict, but the filmmakers definitely did a good job tying it all up in a nice package that’s actually quite fascinating to think about.
In the end, adopting Esther may have been a terrible mistake, but watching the movie that features her murderous antics certainly is not!