When I viewed the trailer for Orphan, I immediately thought it was an Omen rip-off. It looked and sounded like The Omen. After viewing the movie itself, it’s nothing like The Omen. Instead, it’s more like The Good Son. Except it’s not total crap.
After a miscarriage, John (Peter Sarsgaard) and Kate (Vera Farmiga; and yes, their names are John and Kate, which I believe is a coincidence) decide to adopt. With the assistance of Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder), they adopt Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), an intelligent and charming little girl. Despite some misunderstandings with her new siblings, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) and Max (Aryana Engineer), everything seems to be going well.
That is, until mysterious accidents start taking place, with Esther being present at each one. Accidents such as a local girl “slipping” and breaking her ankle, Kate’s minivan going in reverse with Max in it, Daniel’s treehouse catching on fire; the list goes on and on. Kate believes that Esther is responsible, but nobody else believes her.
This is where the film shines. Esther’s sinister and methodical methods are creepy, and her mind games with Kate are ominous. Each “accident” gets progressively more dangerous, which adds to the tension. It’s slowly built up nicely by Jaume Collet-Serra, taking its sweet time to mess with your head.
Isabelle Fuhrman is magnificent as Esther. One minute, she’s cute and innocent, the next she’s sinister and menacing. At times you like her, and even feel sorry for her (being bullied at school and by her brother, Daniel). Then she organizes her crimes, which makes you hate her (since none of the victims actions deserve such extreme punishments).
Clocking in at 123 minutes, I had a feeling that Orphan would stumble (most horror movies that go past 90 minutes do). Surprisingly, it doesn’t. Never once did I feel as if the film was dragging, instead feeling it was slowly building towards the finale. Which it does.
The finale itself is good, but the twist is not. Though it’s plausible and doesn’t royally harm the film, I wasn’t particularly fond of it. I felt the film was moving along perfectly, and didn’t need a twist to garner a reaction. Regardless of the twist, I feel that the audience would’ve been talking about the film for days. Sadly, Jaume Collet-Serra didn’t feel the same way.
The twist aside, Orphan is a phenomenally well-filmed movie. It’s mind games is puissant, making you question Esther’s next moves. Collet-Serra doesn’t rush the film, opting to slowly build each “accident” up. Kate is a great protagonist, giving you somebody to root for. Orphan may have looked like an Omen rip-off, but is its own chilling film.