I love “evil children” movies. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, BLOODY BIRTHDAY, DEVIL TIMES FIVE, THE CHILDREN, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, THE BROOD, THE OMEN, and THE GOOD SON are all prime examples of this creepy little horror sub genre. I guess the reason I like them so much is because I personally have a fear of small children. They look cute and safe enough, but under that “innocent” surface lies the mind of a selfish little monster bent on mischief. Children have their own agendas and are quite adept at manipulating adults into servicing them. The world is designed to protect them, but who’s protecting us from them?
The new film, ORPHAN, provides us with one of the most fucked-up child monsters ever conceived. Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) is a pretty, intelligent, and artistic little nine year old girl, who wants to be adopted by a loving family. Enter John and Kate Coleman, (Peter Sarsgaard and “evil child” movie vet, Vera Farmiga from JOSHUA) who have recently suffered the miscarriage of what would have been their third child. They have a teenage son and a hearing impaired little girl, but their recent loss has left a gaping hole, so they decide to adopt a needy child to fill it. Esther fits the bill perfectly. She’s smart, well spoken, paints wonderful pictures, and has the cutest Russian accent you’ve ever heard. So, the Coleman’s bring her to their beautiful home to live happily ever after. HA!
Esther’s had a nasty childhood. Seems like everyone she’s ever known meets with a tragic end. That could be why she’s capable of crushing a dying bird with a rock and showing zero emotion. She is Russian after all. But that doesn’t explain how she can push another little girl off the top of a slide, breaking her leg, because she made the mistake of making fun of her clothes. Or her desire to play Russian roulette with her stepsister. Or her ability to beat a nun to death with a hammer. Or her ability to threaten to cut off her stepbrother’s balls with a box-cutter if he squeals on her. Or her ability to break her own arm in a vice, so that she can frame her new mom for child abuse. Or her ability to release the parking brake on the SUV, sending her deaf stepsister into oncoming traffic. There’s pretty much, nothing Esther isn’t capable of, including an attempt to seduce her new daddy. WHAT THE FUCK?!
ORPHAN is the kind of horror film that David Cronenberg would have made in his younger days. And since the movie was made in Canada, it kinda looks and feels like an old Cronenberg movie. There’s even a crazy birthing nightmare in the opening that makes the one from THE FLY remake seem like an easy labor. Director, Jaume Collet-Serra (05’s HOUSE OF WAX remake) does a really nice job with the suspense and slowly building to one of the most FUCKED UP twists since SLEEPAWAY CAMP. I did not see it coming at all and it blew my brain out of my skull like a shotgun! See ORPHAN before you plan on doing any adopting and remember to always do an extensive background check. You just never know.