Orphan (film)

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For the abandoned or neglected motion picture work, see Orphan film.
Orphan
Orphanposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Produced by
Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson
Story by Alex Mace
Starring
Music by John Ottman
Cinematography Jeff Cutter
Edited by Timothy Alverson
Production
company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • July 24, 2009 (2009-07-24)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $78.3 million[1]

Orphan is a 2009 American psychological horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson. The film stars Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and Isabelle Fuhrman. The plot centers on a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious 9-year-old girl.

Orphan was produced by Joel Silver and Susan Downey of Dark Castle Entertainment, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran of Appian Way Productions. The film 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.[2]

Plot[edit]

Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) are experiencing strains in their marriage after their third child is stillborn. The loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is also recovering from alcoholism. The couple decides to adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) from a local orphanage. While Kate and John's deaf daughter Max (Aryana Engineer) embraces Esther immediately, their son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) is less welcoming. Kate suspects that there might be problems in Esther's background when Esther's knowledge of sex extends beyond her age. Her suspicions deepen when Esther injures another girl who had bullied her at school.

Kate is further alarmed when Sister Abigail (C. C. H. Pounder), the head of the orphanage, warns her that bad things happen when Esther is around. Esther overhears this and plots to use Max to distract Sister Abigail and then kill her. Esther pushes Max into the path of Sister Abigail's car, forcing her to swerve off the road. Esther then kills Sister Abigail with a hammer, and forces Max to help her hide the weapon in their tree house. Kate is convinced that something is very wrong with Esther, but John does not believe her. Kate finds Esther's hidden Bible and discovers that it came from the Saarne Institute in Estonia, a mental hospital. She emails a picture of Esther to them and asks for more information.

When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail's death, he tells Max of his plan to retrieve the hammer to prove Esther's guilt. Esther overhears this and confronts Daniel at the tree house, then sets it ablaze to kill him and destroy the evidence. Daniel falls from the tree trying to escape, and is knocked unconscious. Esther attempts to finish him off, but Max stops her. While Daniel is hospitalized, Esther slips into his room and smothers him with a pillow, stopping his heart; doctors quickly revive him. Kate realizes what happened and attacks Esther but is restrained and sedated.

That night, a provocatively-dressed Esther tries to seduce a drunken John, who finally realizes Kate was right. He tells Esther that her future with the Coleman's is at stake, upsetting her. Kate receives a call from Dr. Värava (Karel Roden), the director of the Saarne Institute, who reveals that Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer, who has hypopituitarism, a hormone disorder that stunted her physical growth, and that she has spent most of her life posing as a little girl and had people adopt her, with the goal of seducing the father and having a sexual relationship with him. The doctor reports that Leena has murdered at least seven people. The previous family she was adopted by was killed by her because the father had rejected her sexual advances. Kate tries to get back home to stop Esther and prevent her family from suffering the same fate. Leena flies into a rage after being spurned by John, and ransacks her room, removing her "little girl" makeup, revealing the scars from a straitjacket and weathered skin.

Leena stabs and kills John. Max witnesses this and hides. Kate rushes home and finds John dead. Leena gets a gun from John's safe and shoots Kate in the arm. Kate manages to take the gun and flee with Max. Leena finds Kate and Max near a frozen pond. She lunges at Kate, hurling them both into the ice. Kate climbs partially out of the pond; Leena, reverting to her "Esther" persona, begs Kate not to let her die while hiding a knife behind her back. Kate kills Leena by kicking her in the face, breaking her neck. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard were cast in main roles in late November 2007.[3][4] Principal photography for the film took place in Canada, in the cities of St. Thomas,Toronto, Port Hope, and Montreal.[3]

Release[edit]

Orphan had its world premiere in Westwood, California 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.

Home media[edit]

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 include deleted scenes, and one alternate ending. The opening previews also contain a public service announcement describing the plight of unadopted children in the U.S. and encouraging domestic adoption.

Alternate ending[edit]

In an alternate ending, after Kate saves Max from Leena and they escape, Leena is seen hurrying into her room. There, she is shown with a face covered in bloody cuts while she re-applies her makeup which poorly hides her cuts. She then puts on the dress she wore for her first day of school and greets the police at the top of the stairs by curtsying and introducing herself as Esther.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

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.[1]

Critical response[edit]

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."[5] The film also earned a 42 out of 100 rating on Metacritic, based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed to average reviews".[6]

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."[7] 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."[8] Todd McCarthy of Variety was less impressed, writing: "Teasingly enjoyable rubbish through the first hour, Orphan becomes genuine trash during its protracted second half."[9] 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."[10] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D+ score, noting: "Orphan isn't scary – it's garish and plodding."[11] 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."[12] Although the film received mixed reviews, Fuhrman's performance was acclaimed and positively received.

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie: Drama Orphan Nominated
2010 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film International Feature Length Competition Golden Raven Won

Controversy[edit]

The film's content, depicting a murderous adoptee, was not well received by adoption groups.[13] 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."[14] 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."[15] There is a pro-adoption service message on the DVD, advising viewers to consider adoption.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Orphan (2009) – Financial Information". The-Numbers.com. 
  2. ^ Portman, Jamie (July 20, 2009). "Audiences Scream for Isabelle Fuhrman's "Orphan"". The Montreal Gazette. 
  3. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (November 29, 2007). "Sarsgaard, Farmiga join 'Orphan'". Variety. 
  4. ^ Barnes, Jessica (December 1, 2007). "Sarsgaard and Farmiga Join 'Orphan'". Moviefone. 
  5. ^ "Orphan (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Orphan Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 22, 2009). "Reviews: Orphan". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  8. ^ LaSalle, Mick (July 23, 2009). "Review: Orphan". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  9. ^ McCarthy, Todd (July 22, 2009). "Orphan Review". Variety. 
  10. ^ Dargis, Manohla (July 24, 2009). "New Kid in the House, Clearly Up to Something". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (July 27, 2009). "Orphan Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly. 
  12. ^ Phipps, Keith (July 23, 2009). "Orphan Review". The A.V. Club. 
  13. ^ "Adoption groups angry with 'Orphan' stereotypes". San Francisco Chronicle. July 17, 2009. 
  14. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (July 10, 2009). "Quick Takes: Uproar over Orphan movie". Los Angeles Times. 
  15. ^ Greene, Melissa Fay (July 15, 2009). "The New Movie Parents Hate". The Daily Beast. 

External links[edit]