ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Orphan (2009)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring:
Vera Farmiga/Kate
Peter Sarsgaard/John
Isalbelle Fuhrman/Ester
Aryana Engineer/Max
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A 30 something couple (Farmiga and Sarsgaard), who recently lost a child, adopt a cutie patooney 9 year old Russian girl (Isabelle Fuhrman) to fill the gap, and fill it she does. Via murder, psychological torture and more murder. There’s something wrong with Ester they say…YA THINK! Kid is f*cking nuts and I love her for it!
THE LOWDOWN

I don't think Mommy likes me very much. It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own.- Ester

I had a positive gut feeling about ORPHAN off the bat. I can’t put my middle finger on “why” I did but I just knew in my rotten to the core heart that the flick would own me, you and every unwanted one legged slut out there. Even though it was from Dark Castle, a label that rarely crossed the average line in terms of film quality and that the marketing campaign was underwhelming to say the least… ORPHAN simply talked to me. With that, I didn’t think it would be THIS damn good! BOOYA! HEAR ME NOW!

I couldn’t have stopped myself from having a gleefully evil time with ORPHAN even if I had tried. The flick’s mean spiritness, its zest as to embracing the flaws in its refreshingly layered “hero” characters and its tendencies at flirting with taboos really appealed to me. For a studio flick; this one sported a huge sack and a strong penchant for the morbid and I so respected that. I went through two phases while watching this tramp in training. At first, every time something horrible would happen, I’d giggle like the Joker on nose candy much to the dismay of my date (Yeah I go beyond one night stands sometimes – I DATE too! Who knew!) sitting next to me. She thought I was nuts! And she was right. Ester really went to town on this family and for some odd reason I was getting off on it, big smile on my face.

Then phase two kicked in, and that was me just being shocked by what was going down. No chuckling – just pure terror striking my soul. LOVED IT! Visually, the style was restrained, almost old school but with a keen attention to stylistic framing which resulted in a gripping look. Director Jaume Collet-Serra was definitely on the ball with this one, he perfectly executed his action and scare bits. Serra's cinematographer was also "on" as he managed to potently bring out the darkness of the imagery in a semi slick fashion. YUM! Flick looked MACABRE GORGEOUS! And when it was tension snack-time; this bad girl went buck nuts, no holding back here, whooping me stupid in the process. Throughout this watch, I couldn't shake the feeling that everybody was up for grabs – they all could’ve died at any moment – and that definitely jacked up the stakes of the whole.

It’s been a while since I clenched that theater seat arm rest with mucho stress due to the pulse pounding suspense oozing off the big screen; so thanks to ORPHAN for bringing that loving feeling back to me this year. Add to that solid actors all around with the kiddie thespians (always wanted to use that word - there ya have it) nailing it and then some (Isabelle Fuhrman and Aryana Engineer have to be the best child actresses I’ve seen in the last 6 years), a chilling score by John Ottman and a finale that not only double downed on ugliness but that also spit out one warped twist that I didn’t see coming and you get fun f*cking, fun times for the whole Sawyer family.

Arrow Self Indulgent moment: The theme of "appearances/illusions” was rampant in this one. After I left the theater, I was listening to the new SICK PUPPIES album and when I heard these lyrics, they reminded me of ORPHAN right away. Allow me to share. Why? Cause I can… he he he : I did my best to try and be - A mirror of society -But we both know the mirror’s cracked -And everybody's in the act -Faking what they cannot feel - Hoping they can make it real. Yup, that’s ORPHAN or should I say Ester for ya!

Any negatives to pea-soup spew? Not much. Granted if you’ve seen THE GOOD SON, CHILD’S PLAY, THE STEPFATHER, MIKEY (very underrated and cruel - see it guys and dolls) or THE OMEN, this one’s first hour won’t be a huge surprise as to its progression. The film planted its seeds quite blatantly. Somewhat see through and predictable were the words. With that stabbed, gutted and hid in a dumpster; even though the setups were IN MY FACE; nothing could have prepared me for the payoffs which uppercut me like Tyson losing it in Desiree Washington's bedroom after she FALSELY accused him of rape. GODDAMN! Finally, the characters did a couple of dumb moves to serve the plot – but nothing I couldn't let go of…. I had to say it cause its my job. Straight up though, overall, this was a pretty damn air tight script… I was mucho impressed! PROPS!

Arrow says, ADOPT THIS ONE and love her as if she was your own!

GORE
We get bloody hammer hits to the heads, a squashed bird, messy stabbings and couple of other evil deeds that I won’t reveal here. What a mean movie.
T & A
Vera Farmiga in her underwear is always a treat to me. We also get a nipple through a shirt shot, but there was nothing erotic about it. The ladies get Peter Sarsgaard showing off his chest shag.
BOTTOM LINE
ORPHAN kicked my ass and it is now one of my fav genre wham-bams of the year. Well written, with strong actors and aiming to shock/frighten with no apologies; this one hit the dead spot – dead bang. Sure the subgenre it had its knife stuck in has been done to death and the first two acts felt a tad familiar. But the last block brought it all home with such gusto that I let that go in the snap of a neck snap. It felt SOOOOOO good to be SCARED again. Support quality inclined, non-remake horror on the big screen and don’t let this little gem slip through your fingers! ORPHAN is much better and well rounded than the trailers put out. GOLD!

NOTE: I recommend this double bill: see MIKEY (1992) first and then ORPHAN right after and call it a life well lived!
BULL'S EYE
Jaume Collet-Serra also directed HOUSE OF WAX for Dark Castle.

This was Alex mace (story) and David Johnson's (screenplay) first produced feature length script. Good work dudes!

Isabelle Fuhrman (Ester) will also been seen in the upcoming CHILDREN OF THE CORN TV mini series.

ADOPT THE ORPHAN OFFICAL SITE HERE

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4:59PM on 08/02/2010

gotta agree

pleasantly surprised, after i was bored silly by the trailer. this movie was shocking and surprising and suspenseful. and damn if little ester in her makeup wasn't hot! (just kidding.) seriously, kick ass movie!
pleasantly surprised, after i was bored silly by the trailer. this movie was shocking and surprising and suspenseful. and damn if little ester in her makeup wasn't hot! (just kidding.) seriously, kick ass movie!
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+0
5:19PM on 10/19/2009

Take this Orphan home!

I agree with JaketheSnake's comment regarding cheap "jump" scenes. As in most horror films, they are overused here - sometimes when totally unnecessary and inappropriate. This is a shame, because for much of the movie I was gripped by genuine tension, and these moments took me out of that. There were some other minor distractions - some characters' behaviour was bizarre and/or stupid (hardly unusual for a horror film); also for some reason I got the impression that Peter Sarsgaard was stoned
I agree with JaketheSnake's comment regarding cheap "jump" scenes. As in most horror films, they are overused here - sometimes when totally unnecessary and inappropriate. This is a shame, because for much of the movie I was gripped by genuine tension, and these moments took me out of that. There were some other minor distractions - some characters' behaviour was bizarre and/or stupid (hardly unusual for a horror film); also for some reason I got the impression that Peter Sarsgaard was stoned throughout the whole movie... is it just me?

Otherwise I have no complaints. A really effective thriller, and an niteresting combination of the "psychological thriller" and "evil child" subgenres. As for the surprise twist explanation for Esther's "issues", I found it slightly comic, but I certainly wasn't expecting it and nor did it piss me off, which makes a nice change from much recent horror cinema.

I wouldn't have said this after seeing House of Wax, but Jaume Collet-Sera is definitely one to watch in future. Great film, and great review as usual from Arrow.
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8:54PM on 08/31/2009
Now this is what I call a fuc!king horror/thriller! It has great acting from everyone involved especially the children, it has a solid script and story, the kills were brutal when they happen, it has a few good jump scares and a great twist ending that I didn't see coming not even a little bit and it is probably the best twist that I've seen in a horror movie in a decade. This movie packs a punch and finally there is a horror movie that has some fuc!king balls other than some crap hollywood has
Now this is what I call a fuc!king horror/thriller! It has great acting from everyone involved especially the children, it has a solid script and story, the kills were brutal when they happen, it has a few good jump scares and a great twist ending that I didn't see coming not even a little bit and it is probably the best twist that I've seen in a horror movie in a decade. This movie packs a punch and finally there is a horror movie that has some fuc!king balls other than some crap hollywood has been dishing out lately. It deserves all the credit and money it can get over all the watered down horror movies and remakes, so go out and see this movie ASAP! This horror movie was also well filmed and directed and has an excellent spooky atmosphere to add to all the greatness. Yes it has been done before and repeated but not as slick as this one in a long time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!
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8:12PM on 08/12/2009
I think it could have gone without the cheap attempts at jump scenes (like the one with the fridge door that left me shaking my head), but otherwise spot on with what you said!
I think it could have gone without the cheap attempts at jump scenes (like the one with the fridge door that left me shaking my head), but otherwise spot on with what you said!
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6:41PM on 08/02/2009

YES!!!!

I agree 100% with Arrow. This is one brutal, sick and twisted movie and I loved it! GO SEE IT!!!!
I agree 100% with Arrow. This is one brutal, sick and twisted movie and I loved it! GO SEE IT!!!!
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