The Orphan (2009) [Review]

I was flicking through Netflix in desperate attempt to find something to watch and The Orphan came up multiple times – recommended for you, trending now, because you watched… – and so I thought it was the Netflix gods telling me to watch this film.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also directed films House of Wax (2005), Non-Stop (2014) and The Shallows (2016), the film is a psychological thriller based centred around a husband and wife who have dealt with difficulties – a miscarriage, alcoholism, a hearing impaired child and marriage problems – who turn to adoption to cover their devastating dealings. At the orphanage, the pair are drawn into a 9-year old Russian girl named Esther, who possesses artistic capabilities, mannerisms and maturity that surpasses her age.

While I think the story line was one that was basic however one that developed as the film progressed, I feel as though the downfalls of this film let me down and I didn’t enjoy the film fully.

Before I get into details of the downfall, I would like to commend the cinematography directed by Jeff Cutter. In true horror style, the angles and camera movements ensued a feeling of fear, claustrophobia and confusion successfully. I also think that the child cast performed brilliantly – the child actors gripping their characters smoothly and with complete believability.

The biggest downfall for me was the length of the film. With an approximate 2 hour running time, I feel as though there were times where I was left feeling slightly bored and tired – that may be due to personal factors and perhaps if I watched it again, the screen time wouldn’t be an issue.

Another problem I thought was how oblivious the character, John, was to everything that was happening. Something that really ruins a film is when a character isn’t reacting to certain prompts as they would in real life. There were so many hints that there was something not quite right with Esther and that there was something suspicious happening (uh, Esther’s obsession with him, suddenly people are getting hurt?).

In all I found the film mostly enjoyable, but of course there were some things that didn’t quite make me LOVE the film. What do you think?

-Jord

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