Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
Written by David Johnson.
Starring Isabelle Fuhrman, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and CCH
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 7/22/09
The poster is right--there really IS
something wrong with Esther!
"Orphan" is not a great film, in the
artistic sense...but, it is a great ride, especially in a packed
theater, with the volume turned up, and the air conditioning just a
tad too cold. Half an hour into this movie, you know something
is kinda fucked up about the title role...and, while the surprise
isn't really a hammer, it makes the first 90% of the movie a bit
Isabelle Fuhrman plays Esther, an orphan who
is picked up by Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga and Peter
Sarsgaard) at an orphanage near their idyllic home in Connecticut.
It becomes apparent early on that not only is Esther a child
prodigy--with prodigious talent in art and playing the piano--but
she has a few mental issues as well, strange for a
nine-year-old...and, those issues really ramp up by the middle of
the film. Almost everyone except for John seems to pick up on
this...so, is there a way to get Esther back to the orphanage?
To say more would give some things away,
although the movie's trailer did a good job of that also.
"Orphan" does the right things right, though, and by that I mean it
has all of the clichéd horror movie moments just so. Sound for
everything is ratcheted up, so that even opening the family
refrigerator will generate shrieks from the audience. As the
film is rated R, when people die, they really, REALLY die. For
a film like this, there are a couple of good laughs, and even our
ending fits right in the middle of good horror standards. The
film is made better by the acting of our three leads; I liked
Fuhrman a lot, and Farmiga (from
Scared" and "The
Departed") actually appears to be acting, and caring, strange
but solid for a schlocky/cheap thrills horror film.
If you like your scares, see "Orphan";
especially on a Friday or Saturday night when there should be a
crowd, I think the film is better with a big audience.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard