In 2009, director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Jungle Cruise”, “The Commuter”) unleashed his horror movie ‘Orphan’ and what a hugely entertaining film it was! It told the story of a husband and wife adopting the nine-year-old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), who was not nearly as innocent as she seemed. After arriving at her new family home, her behaviour became much scarier and deadlier.
But how could a teenage girl cause so much pain and suffering? Well, that’s because – spoiler alert – she was a 33-year-old woman with a disorder that limited her physical growth. While this stylish, eerie and dark film got a mixed response (moderate at the box office but successful on DVD), Esther is now returning to the big screen in “Orphan: First Kill” by director William Brent Bell (“The Boy”, “Separation”). She’s back and more furious, clever and murderous than before, so you better watch this movie and your back.
After orchestrating an escape from a mental hospital in Estonia, Esther gets herself to America to cause a lot of havoc, death and destruction again. This time the ‘unlucky’ parents are Tricia (Julia Stiles) & Allen Albright (Rossif Sutherland), as Esther takes the identity of their missing daughter.
At first, Tricia, Allan and their son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) are over the moon with Esther’s return, but that euphory doesn’t last long. Soon the family is caught in a world of bizarre and radical behaviour, deceit and dark secrets, and just like Esther’s UV light paintings, she’s not what she seems. But when someone finds out who Ether is, she goes to extremes to conceal her true identity. No matter how much she has to hurt her family…
Like Esther, “Orphan: First Kill” has two faces. The first half an hour of the movie feels forced and unhinged. The writers needed to find a way to get Esther out of the mental home and back into society, but it just doesn’t fit 100%. While the start feels like a storyline hiccup, the rest of the movie isn’t.
You already see how cruel and manipulative Esther is in the hospital and when she becomes part of the Albright family, you find out what darkness lurks inside her. Whether it’s gaining more insights into her dark mind with the UV blacklight colours, seeing the masterfully diabolically planned ‘accidents’ or catching the family outings that aren’t family-like, “Orphan: First Kill” is thrilling all the way through.
A lot can be said about using CGI effects, special make-up and other alterations to make an actor or actress look younger or older, but the way Bell used it to make Fuhrman look like a 13-year-old teenager is magnificent. It was all perfectly done with platform heels for the other actors, world-class make-up and costume choices, clever camera angles, a bit of CGI, and the usage of a body double.
However, the main reason “Orphan: First Kill” works so well is the stunning performances of both Fuhrman (“The Novice”, “The Hunger Games”) and Stiles. One look into Fuhrman’s eyes, and you see straight into Esther’s dark soul. Fuhrman is extraordinary, and her performance becomes highly dynamic, violent, intriguing and captivating when Esther starts to hurt everyone around her.
“Orphan: First Kill” is undoubtedly carried by two strong women. Julia Stiles (“Hustlers”, “Jason Bourne”) is also incredible as she gives a powerhouse and multi-layered performance. At first, she provides a more quiet, motherly and loving performance, but when her ‘daughter’ turns out to be a complete psychopath, Stiles puts on a strong, powerful and kick-ass performance like the on-screen mother you don’t want to mess with. She fires on all cylinders, and let us tell you, it’s a bullseye in every scene.
While Sutherland (“Possessor”, “The Retreat”) and Finlan (“Brazen”, “My Fake Boyfriend”) might not have much screen time but they still manage to bring bags of emotions to the screen as the naïve father and the suspicious and manipulative brother.
If you’ve seen the 2019 “Orphan”, then you know what you can expect from this movie. Nevertheless, that’s not a big thing whatsoever. This sequel is worth your time as it lives up to the original thanks to the great twists at the end, the creepy and explosive performances and the eerie and dark atmosphere. The film grabs you instantly. Let’s hope Esther doesn’t.
“Orphan: First Kill” is out in U.K. cinemas from the 19th of August.
19th August 2022
William Brent Bell
THE QUICK SELL
After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.
CAST & CREW
Alex Mace, David Coggeshall, David Lawrence Brown, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Hiro Kanagawa, Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles, Matthew Finlan, Rossif Sutherland, Samantha Walkes, William Brent Bell