Orphan (2009 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jaume Collet-Serra|
|Screenplay by||David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick|
|Story by||Alex Mace|
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Timothy Alverson|
|Box office||$78.8 million|
Orphan is a 2009 psychological horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick from a story by Alex Mace. The film stars Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, C. C. H. Pounder and Jimmy Bennett. The plot centers on a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious 9-year-old girl. The film is an international co-production between the United States, Canada, Germany and France. It was produced by Joel Silver and Susan Downey of Dark Castle Entertainment, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran of Appian Way Productions.
Orphan was released theatrically in the United States on July 24, 2009 by Warner Bros. Pictures. Some critics compared Fuhrman's performance as Esther to that of Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed.
Kate and John Coleman's marriage is strained after their third child, Jessica, was stillborn. The loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is also recovering from alcoholism. They decide to adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl, Esther, from the local orphanage, whom John meets while she is painting. While Kate and John's 5-year-old deaf-mute daughter Max embrace Esther almost immediately, their 12-year-old son Daniel is less welcoming and rude toward her.
Kate begins to develop a strong mother-daughter bond with Esther, she teaches her piano and reconciles with John. One night, John and Kate reflect on their lives since adopting and how Esther is doing. They begin to undress and kiss, and then proceed to have intercourse. He is happy to have their marriage strengthened again while she hopes to become pregnant again and have a new baby into their extended family. However Esther walks in, interrupting the moment. Kate soon becomes suspicious when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than expected of a child her age, but John tells her not to worry about it. Soon, Esther develops other strange behaviors, such as killing an injured pigeon and injuring a classmate at the park, which Kate believes was an accident. When the head of the orphanage, Sister Abigail, warns Kate of bad things happening when Esther's around, Esther kills Sister Abigail with a hammer and pushes her body into a ditch, hiding the evidence in Daniel's treehouse. Later, Esther threatens Daniel if he mentioned anything to his parents, causing him to urinate himself in bed. Kate is convinced something is wrong with Esther, but John doesn't believe her. When John suggests Esther do something nice for Kate, she brings her a bouquet of flowers from Jessica's grave, angering Kate and causing Kate to grab Esther's arm.
Later that night, Esther purposely breaks her arm, blaming it on Kate grabbing her arm earlier. The next day, Esther releases the brake in the car, causing it to roll into oncoming traffic with Max inside. When Esther points out wine she found of Kate's, John threatens her with divorce and leaving with the kids. Kate discovers that Esther came from a mental hospital in Estonia and the orphanage Esther claims she was from has no records of her. When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail's death from Max and searches the treehouse, Esther sets it on fire causing Daniel to fall and be knocked unconscious trying to escape. Esther tries to kill him but is stopped by Max. While Daniel is in the hospital, Esther tries to kill him but he is revived. Kate realizes what Esther did and attacks her, but she is restrained and sedated.
That night, Esther attempts to seduce a drunk John, which causes him to realize that Kate was right. Kate gets a call at the hospital about Esther from Dr. Varava, and learns that she is not a 9-year old child at all. She is 33-year old Leena Klammer, she has hypopituitarism, a condition that stunted her physical growth and caused proportional dwarfism, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. Kate also learns that Leena has murdered at least seven people, including the last family that adopted her after failing to seduce the husband, and has scars on her neck and wrists from trying to break out of a straightjacket. Meanwhile, Leena, removes her disguise and proceeds to kill John, which Max witnesses. Leena grabs a gun and attempts to shoot at Max in the greenhouse, but Kate breaks through the roof and lands on top of her.
Leena finds Kate and Max near a frozen pond, she knocks the gun out of her hands, and hurls both her and Kate onto the ice. Max tries to shoot at Leena, but shatters the ice, causing Leena and Kate to fall into the water. Kate partially climbs out of the pond, with Leena clinging to her legs. Leena hides a knife behind her back and, reverting to her little-girl persona, begs Kate not to let her die. Kate angrily responds that she is not her mother and viciously kicks Leena in the face, breaking her neck and letting her sink into the pond. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.
- Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther
- Vera Farmiga as Kate Coleman
- Peter Sarsgaard as John Coleman
- C. C. H. Pounder as Sister Abigail
- Jimmy Bennett as Daniel "Danny" Coleman
- Margo Martindale as Dr. Browning
- Karel Roden as Dr. Värava
- Aryana Engineer as Maxine "Max" Coleman
- Rosemary Dunsmore as Barbara Coleman
- Genelle Williams as Sister Judith
- Lorry Ayers as Joyce
- Brendan Wall as Detective
- Jamie Young as Brenda
- Landon Norris as Austin
- Mustafa Abdelkarim as Trevor
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2016)
Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard were cast in main roles in late November 2007. Principal photography for the film took place in Canada, in the cities of St. Thomas, Toronto, Port Hope, and Montreal.
Orphan had its world premiere in Westwood, Los Angeles on July 21, 2009. The following day, it screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. The film was released theatrically in North America on July 24, 2009. It was then released in the United Kingdom on August 7, 2009 by Optimum Releasing.
Orphan was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27, 2009 in the United States by Warner Home Video and in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2009 by Optimum Releasing. The DVD includes deleted scenes, and one alternate ending. The opening previews also contain a public service announcement describing the plight of unadopted children in the United States and encouraging domestic adoption.
The film opened in the 4th spot at the box office, making a total of $12,770,000, behind G-Force, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and The Ugly Truth. The film has since grossed a total of $78,337,373.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 55% approval rating based on 148 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's consensus reads, "While it has moments of dark humor and the requisite scares, Orphan fails to build on its interesting premise and degenerates into a formulaic, sleazy horror/thriller." The film also earned a 42 out of 100 rating on Metacritic, based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed to average reviews".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Orphan 3.5 stars out of 4, writing: "You want a good horror film about a child from hell, you got one." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave a positive review, commenting: "Orphan provides everything you might expect in a psycho-child thriller, but with such excess and exuberance that it still has the power to surprise." Todd McCarthy of Variety was less impressed, writing: "Teasingly enjoyable rubbish through the first hour, Orphan becomes genuine trash during its protracted second half." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote: "Actors have to eat like the rest of us, if evidently not as much, but you still have to wonder how the independent film mainstays Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard ended up wading through Orphan and, for the most part, not laughing." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D+ score, noting: "Orphan isn't scary – it's garish and plodding." Keith Phipps from The A.V. Club wrote: "If director Jaume Collet-Serra set out to make a parody of horror film clichés, he succeeded brilliantly." Although the film received mixed reviews, Fuhrman's performance was lauded and positively received.
|2009||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Summer Movie: Drama||Orphan||Nominated|
|2010||Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival||International Feature Length Competition Golden Raven||Won|
The film's content, depicting a murderous adoptee, was not well received by adoption groups. The controversy caused filmmakers to change a line in one of their trailers from: "It must be difficult to love an adopted child as much as your own," to:"I don't think Mommy likes me very much." Melissa Fay Greene of The Daily Beast commented: "The movie Orphan comes directly from this unexamined place in popular culture. Esther's shadowy past includes Eastern Europe; she appears normal and sweet, but quickly turns violent and cruel, especially toward her mother. These are clichés. This is the baggage with which we saddle abandoned, orphaned, or disabled children given a fresh start at family life." There is a pro-adoption service message on the DVD, advising viewers to consider adoption.
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- Siegel, Tatiana (November 29, 2007). "Sarsgaard, Farmiga join 'Orphan'". Variety.
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- Ebert, Roger (July 22, 2009). "Reviews: Orphan". Chicago Sun-Times.
- LaSalle, Mick (July 23, 2009). "Review: Orphan". San Francisco Chronicle.
- McCarthy, Todd (July 22, 2009). "Orphan Review". Variety.
- Dargis, Manohla (July 24, 2009). "New Kid in the House, Clearly Up to Something". The New York Times.
- Gleiberman, Owen (July 27, 2009). "Orphan Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly.
- Phipps, Keith (July 23, 2009). "Orphan Review". The A.V. Club.
- "Adoption groups angry with 'Orphan' stereotypes". San Francisco Chronicle. July 17, 2009.
- Abramowitz, Rachel (July 10, 2009). "Quick Takes: Uproar over Orphan movie". Los Angeles Times.
- Greene, Melissa Fay (July 15, 2009). "The New Movie Parents Hate". The Daily Beast.
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