Orphan (2009)

Jaume Collet-Serra has two major projects coming soon — Disney’s Jungle Cruise and the DC Comics movie Black Adam. He started his directing career with the remake of House of Wax and this was his third film. He also worked with Liam Neeson on the films Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and The Commuter as well as the shark film The Shallows.

Orphan was written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, who started his career as Frank Darabont’s assistant before writing films for James Wan like The Conjuring 2 and Aquaman (as well as the upcoming sequels to those films).

Kate and John Coleman’s (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) have just lost another baby, which devastates them both. They decide to adopt a nine-year-old Russian child named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) who their five-year-old deaf and mute daughter Max (Aryana Engineer, Resident Evil: Retribution) falls in love with immediately. However, their twelve-year-old son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett, who was in the remake of The Amityville Horror and who also accused Asia Argento of sexual assault after making The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things with her) isn’t all that excited.

Esther immediately freaks out any viewer of this film, whether it’s her randomly showing up when her parents are aardvarking or killing pigeons at school or beating other children into oblivion. Oh yeah — she also murks CCH Pounder with a hammer and shoves her into a ditch before hiding the murder weapon in her adopted brother’s treehouse.

That little orphan is the master of gaslighting, taking flowers off a dead child’s grave, cutting brake lines and breaking her own arm to get her new mother in trouble for abuse. She even makes it look like Kate is drinking again, causing a potential divorce.

Karel Roden, who was Rasputin in Hellboy, also is in here as a Russian doctor who helps the family expose the big secret behind all of this mania. I’d rather not give it all away, but it’s a pretty audacious reveal, taking this from a cover version of The Bad Seed and into even more ridiculous territory.

There’s a nice bit of writing in here as Esther is adopted from an orphanage called the Saint Mariana’s Home for Girls. In the Catholic faith, Saint Mariana of Quito is the patron saint for those rejected by religious orders and orphans.

Ironically, ten years after this movie was released, this movie went from fiction into reality. Famous parenting author and motivational speaker Kristine Barnett and her ex-husband Michael were charged with the neglect of their 11-year-old daughter Natalia. The couple had left her to fend for herself in their apartment, but Kristine soon revealed that her daughter — who she adopted from the Ukraine — was actually a twenty-two-year-old woman who was planning to kill them both. The full story is insane and you can read it on Elle’s website.

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