Friday, October 26, 2012

George Bell reviews Orphan

I really wanted to like Orphan. Horror movies about demented children can sometimes get a pass on the
creepy kid factor alone. Other times, such as this one, that pass gets revoked and lit on fire as a warning
for future audiences to run far, far away. Isabelle Fuhrman does a great job playing Esther, a 9-year-old
psychopath, but almost nothing else in the story even passes the smell test.

The cast, including Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard, should have been able to carry this film, but the
script decided to veto that notion right out of the gate. It’s about a pretty well-off couple with two
children looking to adopt a third. Several years ago, Kate (Farmiga) lost a pregnancy, and she and her
husband, John (Sarsgaard), have been debating adoption ever since. Well, I guess all that ponderous
thought amounted to meeting Esther once, shooting the shit about her paintings, and signing up
without much else to go off of. That’s really the process they went through. On top of that, one of the
only lessons I learned while watching Orphan is that nuns should not be handling adoption services. Like,
ever. Any time there’s a disturbing event involving Esther and the parents need more information about
her from the nuns, all they say, basically, is “Durrh, I don’t know anything about her past! Ha ha! Sorry!”
They should open up a used car lot while they’re at it. Think of the T.V. commercials and catch-phrases
they could use: “Come on down, we’re in the…habit…of saving you money! Just, uh, don’t ask about
crash histories.”

Despite all my efforts, the other thing I couldn’t bring myself to believe is the relationship between
Kate and John. Most of the time, they act like a normal, happy couple. But when the first sign of trouble
arises, John is all about blaming Kate for everything. Granted, there were certain things that happened
to them in the past that would potentially cast her in a bad light, but during a significant scene with
John, Kate, and their marriage therapist, their exchanges are pretty laughable. Despite all the logic and
evidence Kate provides, they still gang up on her like two bullies and discount every word that comes
out of her mouth. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works, and if it is, someone’s doing it wrong. That
unearned theme of distrust sticks throughout the latter half of the film, and it brought me out of the
experience quite a bit.

The worst offender, though, is the horrible ending. I wouldn’t exactly call it a twist, since you’re given
literally no information about what’s actually going on until the last 15 minutes, but I would say it’s
one of the dumbest endings in a horror movie that I’ve seen in a while. I would love to spoil it for you,
but then you couldn’t share in my misery. The reveal aside, I also grow tired of lazy writing that can’t
produce answers to questions in a natural, flowing manner. Instead of pacing itself, the script dumps all
of the crucial information on the viewer essentially right before the credits roll. In my opinion, that’s a
lame, cheap way of telling a story. Yea, this one gets a Bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment