‘Orphan’ Suspenseful and Intense, Although Unoriginal

The storyline of Orphan, the latest from director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax), is extremely unoriginal. An adopted child, Esther, threatens a family and makes the mother and father turn on each other. Yawn. When you see the demented "Esther", you'll immediately recall Damien from The Omen or Adam from Godsend. But right where you think that Orphan is just another devil-child movie (which is about a half-hour in), the film snaps. It breaks away from that tired category and Collet-Serra makes it his own. The horror takes off when the child is introduced to the family. Esther starts out sweet and kind, however the mother Kate (a wonderful Vera Farmiga) is soon suspicious of the nine-year-old girl after she can surprisingly play the piano, after admitting that she cannot. "She lied to us!"

The acting median was mediocre. Isabelle Furham (Esther): great. If you search Furham on Google and notice what she actually looks like not in costume…damn! She nails every scene with utter creepiness, making Orphan an actual, legit horror movie. Not a slash-em-up bloodfest and certainly not a horror/comedy like Drag Me to Hell or Zombieland. Peter Sarsgaard (John, Kate's husband): bad. Sarsgaard, I've disliked his entire career. The fictional personality on him in every movie is always the same! I could take his character John and put him in the part he played in Jarhead and I wouldn't know the difference. A great actress besides Furham was C.C.H Pounder, who was Sister Abigail. Abigail starts off saying that Esther would be a perfect addition to the Coleman family, but later goes back on her word. The terrifying emotion that the role called for, she hit spot-on. The Shield actress made me wish that she played a bigger part in Orphan. I can't wait to witness her work in James Cameron's Avatar this winter.

Orphan is no Omen, although it tops Godsend on the terror scale. Collet-Serra's style of filmmaking is hit-or-miss, and it sucks that Orphan was a hit up until the final scene, where he freaks the fuck out with his camera. Critics hate on this while audiences love it. The reaction of one fanatic pretty much sums up what I thought as well: Orphan has the making of a horror cult hit.

3.5/5 stars.

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