Revisiting My Favorite Horror Film: "Orphan"
For those who know me well, they know that I LOVE haunted houses, horror films, and ghost stories. I don't know when I first became so interested in horror, the supernatural, and sources of disturbing the mind, but it is something I have never grown out of. When I first saw Orphan (directed by Juame Collet-Serra) I was very young because I remember seeing it right after it came out on DVD several days before Halloween in 2009. I was hanging out with some of the neighbor kids a few houses down from mine when we got the idea to watch a scary movie, particularly Orphan. I was especially thrilled about the idea because I was just entering the world of scary movies so I was craving more, and it felt a little bit rebellious too. Something else those close to me know, is that I have a crazy accurate ability to foreshadow movies, specifically horror movies. Because of this, I don't find myself feeling scared or surprised by them very often. However, this movie surprised me when I was unable to predict exactly where the story was going. I can even still distinctly remember how intense the air in the room became as we watched, and how disturbed we all felt when it ended. I never forgot about Orphan and how incredible it was. So of course, when I spotted it playing on Lifetime yesterday I had to watch it. Unfortunately, I was only able to watch the last quarter of the film, but that was all it took for me to remember exactly why Orphan has been and remains as the scariest and best horror movie I have ever watched. And trust me, I've watched A LOT of scary movies.
If you have not seen Orphan yourself, I will try to give you the summary without spoiling anything. Basically, a family of four made up by a mom (Kate), dad (John), 12-year old son (Daniel), and 7-year old deaf daughter (Max), adopt a 9-year old Russian girl named Ester as a way to mend their relationships after Kate and John's third child is born a stillborn. Shortly after her arrival, Kate begins to suspect something is wrong with Ester after receiving a series of warnings from the adoption agency and strange happenings begin to occur. As any mother would, Kate worries about how Ester is affecting her biological children's behavior. She tries to discuss her uneasiness about Ester with John, but it ultimately falls on deaf ears (no pun intended). Things continue to escalate and Kate begins to realize the pattern of bad things only happening when Ester is around; so, she conducts her own investigation into her new daughter's history. After doing so, Kate discovers the dark truth about Ester, but it might already be too late for her and her family.
First of all, the mom Kate is portrayed by Vera Farmiga who is known for her incredible acting in other horror films such as the 2007 release Joshua, the 2013 release of The Conjuring, and the 2016 release of The Conjuring 2. Second of all, there is absolutely no one else who could have played the creepy Russian girl better than Isabelle Fuhrman (Ester), who has since acted in Children of the Corn (2009), Cell (2016), and even in the Hunger Games (2012) as Clove. She had the perfect creepy, get the heck away from me look (seriously, just looking at her on the movie poster sends chills down my spine), and was able to execute the accent to perfection. Besides some brilliant casting, I also appreciate how the director was able to build up Ester as menacing and terrifying before the audience even learns the truth about her. This way, I was always on my toes while watching. The locations used to shoot the film were spot on, and it was all edited perfectly in order to send the audience all of the spine tingling feels. And most importantly, the movie has a plot line that draws from cliché horror tactics, but twists them into something so much more disturbing that you're left wondering, "Who's sick mind came up with this?"
All of these elements helped me re-experience the dread, desperation, intensity, paranoia, and shock of the film all in the last half-hour I was able to watch. I have to admit that I didn't and haven't personally felt scared by the movie, but I did feel immersed enough that I was scared for the characters. If horror movies, or watching movies containing very intense situations are hard for you to handle then I definitely don't recommend watching this film. However, if you're a scary movie junkie like myself who hasn't experienced that adrenaline rush for a while, then Orphan is a great option for introducing something new to your horror film collection.