Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
|Featuring:||Vera Farmiga, Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, CCH Pounder, Jimmy Bennett, Aryana Engineer, Lorry Ayers, Rosemary Dunsmore, Margo Martindale, Matthew Raudsepp, Karel Roden, Andrew Shaver|
|Producer:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment, Appian Way, DCP Orphan Productions, Don Carmody Productions, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Barrett, Don Carmody, Susan Downey, Ethan Erwin, Michael Ireland, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Richard Mirisch, Erik Olsen, Josette Perrotta, Steve Richards, Joel Silver, Charlie Woebcken|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“There’s something wrong with Esther.”
During the past several years, it seems that horror movies have barely conjured up any new elements to use instead of the overused plot devices and ever increasing gore. “Orphan” has been labeled by some as being an excellent thriller with an original ending. While the ending’s twist is indeed quite original, the movie eventually becomes a preposterous heap of overused clichés.
Kate Coleman bears the physical and emotional scar of the death of her unborn daughter Jessica. After Jessica’s death, Kate becomes an alcoholic and almost loses her other daughter Max when she falls into the pond. As a result of the accident, Max becomes deaf, and Kate decides to become sober for the sake of her children. After much discussion, she and her husband John feel they are ready to adopt a third child to complete their family.
Upon entering the orphanage, John hears singing which lures him into the company of Esther. She’s all by herself, painting beautiful pictures. Once Kate joins them, the connection is immediate, with Esther seeming far wiser than her nine years. They then decide to adopt her. It is not long before Esther wrecks havoc upon the Coleman household.
The movie begins rather strongly. To picture Kate’s pain, we see a nightmare where she’s giving birth to a stillborn in a bloodbath with scary tools. The movie gives off an eerie vibe and when we meet Esther, she’s chillingly odd with her ribbons. The film also invests a good amount of time describing Max’s hearing-impaired world. There is a beautiful scene where Max takes off her hearing aids as Kate tells her a story in sign language. Sadly, once Esther goes home, the film’s latter half drops into an epitome of the horror checklist that results in tedious viewing for one who’s well acquainted with this genre. The “jump” scenes are obvious, and Esther’s true motive is apparent almost immediately.
Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are what help elevate the film’s quality. Although Sarsgaard has one of the most ignorant, annoying characters I’ve seen in a long time. Over and over, Kate expresses her concerns about Esther, and John remains oblivious. At the end, Kate tells him that she’s tired of connecting the dots for him; she had more patience than the average person. Kate’s character is well-rounded. She loves her children, struggles with sobriety and sees into Esther’s façade.
Cursing begins halfway through the film with several uses of the ‘f’ word and sh*t. A child is threatened to stay quiet or his “pr_ck” will be cut off before he knew what it was for. The violence is rather heavy. As this is a horror movie, there are plenty of instances of attempted murders and actual ones. However, I will list the ones that are graphic in nature. A bird gets smashed with a rock; two people are gruesomely murdered with a hammer and a knife. And finally another is suffocated with a pillow.
***Paragraph has spoiler content***
There’s some sexual content that should be addressed. There are two sexual scenes between Kate and John. In the first, she simply goes under the covers. In the second, they attempt to have sex in the kitchen. While the latter is more graphic, no actual nudity is shown, and I did not find it offensive, since it is between man and wife and realistically depicted. However, what I did find offensive and in bad taste is the sexual content with Esther. Part of the twist is that Esther tries to seduce John. In the end, she is wearing heavy makeup and a dress in attempts to woo him. She then suggestively kisses John on his face and puts her hand on his lap, implying her attempt to give him pleasure. While the scene is tame, I believe it is in bad taste for a child actor to physically act out that scene. ***End of Spoilers***
The Bible does address adoption. The most well-known adoption story is probably that of Moses. While most would be acquainted with how the pharaoh’s daughter decided to adopt him, God showed his loving nature when unknowing to the pharaoh’s daughter, she summoned Moses’ actual mother to nurse him until he was old enough to be weaned (Exodus 2:8-9). Besides Moses, the Queen Esther of the Bible was also adopted.
Adoption comes out of love. Like the pharaoh’s daughter, she knew Moses was a Hebrew baby, but she felt love for the child. The most important adoption is when we decide to walk with Christ. We are then adopted into God’s family. The Lord never did this out of selfish reasons, but out of love. In Ephesians 1:5, it reads: “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” Romans 8 also has excellent reading about being God’s children and heirs of his kingdom.
There has been some controversy regarding how “Orphan” has portrayed adoption. In opposition, several have said that this film would make parents weary of giving older children a home. It is a sad fact that older children are harder to find homes for. However, I do not feel that this film will hurt adoption, but instead would make potential adoptive parents research the agencies more closely.
Adopting is a serious commitment which should not be taken lightly. The film portrays this. Kate was approved by her psychiatrist to adopt. In addition, she and her husband had taken time with their decision. Yes, Esther was evil, but the film had an enormous plot hole that in real life should never be overlooked. Whenever adopting a child, one should look into all possible records of the child. The Catholic orphanage where Esther lived barely had anything. Only after incidents began happening was when they finally began connecting the dots.
If it weren’t for the cast and the cinematography, this film perhaps would have been worse. I, personally, believe Vera Farmiga is one of today’s most underrated actresses. She helped carry this film because she actually makes the audience care for her character. However, this movie is not appropriate for viewing, especially the suffering that the children had to endure at the hands of Esther. My advice is to skip it.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.