Orphan (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner06/08/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 123 mins

Hugely enjoyable horror flick that's a welcome addition to the Evil Child sub-genre, thanks to great performances, strong direction, a delightfully over-the-top plot, some impressive gore effects and a terrific twist.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Orphan stars Vera Farmiga (who, weirdly, played the same role in last year's very similar Joshua) and Peter Sarsgaard as Kate and John, a married couple who decide to adopt 9-year-old Russian orphan Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) after the tragic miscarriage of their third child. Initially, Esther bonds well with their deaf daughter, 5-year-old Maxine (Aryana Engineer) but less so with their son Danny (Jimmy Bennett) and it isn't long before strange accidents start happening, with Esther never far away from the incident in question. But what is she up to?

The Good
Fuhrman is terrific as Esther, effortlessly switching from adorable to terrifying and back again but never losing an air of creepiness and mystery that is genuinely unsettling and keeps you guessing till the end. Farmiga and Sarsgaard are equally good and there's also terrific support from both Bennett and a scene-stealing Engineer, as well as Margo Martindale (as the world's worst psychiatrist) and CCH Pounder as a kind-hearted nun.

The script is excellent and plants plenty of clues and red herrings along the way, all of which build to a delightfully bonkers twist that would be churlish to reveal. The film also revels in Esther being such a multi-levelled threat; as well as causing all manner of physical accidents, she also expertly exploits Kate and John's psychological weaknesses (his previous infidelity, her battle with alcoholism) to turn them against each other.

The Great
The film also features some brilliantly crafted gore effects that are used sparingly, to excellent effect, accompanied by some extremely impressive sound design work. In addition, Collet-Serra orchestrates several nail-bitingly suspenseful set-pieces and makes strong use of his outdoor locations (an icy bridge, a frozen pond, a tree house, etc.).

Worth seeing?
Orphan is a hugely enjoyable, superbly made horror flick with terrific performances and a sharply written script. See it now before someone ruins the twist for you. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Orphan (15)
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Content updated: 19/04/2019 19:50

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