ORPHAN. 2009. DIRECTED BY JAUME COLLET-SERRA. STARRING VERA FARMIGA, PETER SARSGAARD, ISABELLE FUHRMAN, CCH POUNDER, ARYANA ENGINEER AND JIMMY BENNETT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
The tagline for this film reads: ‘THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ESTHER. YOU’LL NEVER GUESS HER SECRET.’ A truer word was never spoken. I certainly didn’t guess it, anyway, but then I’m easier to surprise than a really surprised person who’s just been to college to get their Masters degree in being even more surprised than they were previously. I think you’ll agree, that’s a person who’s pretty easy to surprise.
I loved this film. I generally always love films where a lovely unsuspecting family unwittingly take a viper into their collective bosom, ie, a dangerous, poisonous toxic person who tears the family apart from the inside out so that it’s never the same again.
Oh, and there’s usually one family member who suspects the evil newcomer of wrongdoing but when they try to warn everyone else of the danger they’re in, no-one believes them until it’s too late.
THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE is one such film that comes immediately to mind. SINGLE WHITE FEMALE is another. PACIFIC HEIGHTS is also a case in point.
John and Kate are an ordinary, well-to-do couple with two young children, a pre-teen boy called Danny and a little girl, Maxine, who’s almost deaf. They decide to adopt an older child after the stillbirth of their baby, Jessica. They think an older child will really benefit from the love they were all set to give to Baby Jessica.
At St. Mariana’s Orphanage, they are drawn to a nine-year-old girl called Esther who was born in Russia and wears funny, old-fashioned clothing. She’s sweet and charming with a great attitude and outlook on life so, before you can say We’ll take that one, please! Don’t bother to wrap it, it’s grand as it is, she’s whisked off to John and Kate’s fantastic house and welcomed royally into the family with presents and a bedroom that most little girls can only dream of.
Things start to turn sour pretty quickly. Esther bullies John and Kate’s son and is a terrible influence on their daughter. A girl in school who was mean to Esther has a bad Esther-related accident in the playground.
Esther doesn’t like it when John and Kate have sex and seems to be trying to come between them, favouring the father and pushing Kate out more and more into the cold. She seems to be somewhat sexually aware too, in a way that disturbs Kate and makes her wonder exactly what’s gone on in Esther’s life in the past.
Then Sister Abigail, the nice nun from St. Mariana’s in charge of handling Esther’s adoption, responds to Kate’s fears and doubts about Esther by saying that she’ll try to find out more about Esther from the Russian orphanage from which she originated. She says she’ll do that, but she never gets around to it. Esther murders her horribly- I can’t say how, it’s too awful- and even terrifies the little deaf child into helping her to hide the body…
Things just go from bad to worse after that. Mom is convinced that Esther is dangerous, but she has no idea yet just how far the little demon is prepared to go to get what she wants. Dad doesn’t believe Mom, which is the sad part. He thinks her old drinking problem is rearing its ugly head again.
Everyone’s in danger. Can Mom manage to persuade Dad that he needs to wake up and smell the coffee with regards to the angelic-faced Esther before it’s too late…? It’s wide-open, people. Anything could happen.
There’s a twist in this that will blow you away. You won’t see it coming, I promise you, not unless you’re extremely well-versed in working out the twists in films like this. There are one or two little things in the movie that might be less than believable, but otherwise it’s fast-paced, it doesn’t flag and I found it to be a terrifically gripping watch.
The film’s been described as ‘THE OMEN WITH RINGLETS… A SUPERIOR EVIL CHILD HORROR.’ Quite honestly, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY