Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jaume Collet-Serra|
|Screenplay by||David Leslie Johnson|
|Story by||Alex Mace|
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Timothy Alverson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$78.8 million|
Orphan is a 2009 psychological horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by David Leslie Johnson 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.
Orphan was produced by Joel Silver and Susan Downey of Dark Castle Entertainment, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran of Appian Way Productions. It is an American, Canadian, German and French co-production. 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.
Kate and John Coleman's marriage is strained after their third child 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. While Kate and John's deaf-mute daughter Max embraces Esther almost immediately, their son Daniel is less welcoming.
Kate becomes suspicious when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than expected of a child her age. When Esther seriously injures another girl at a local park, Kate initially believes the event an accident but becomes alarmed when Sister Abigail, the head of the orphanage, visits with the warning that bad things frequently happen in Esther's vicinity. Esther overhears this and uses Max as a distraction so that she can kill Sister Abigail with a hammer, which she hides in the children's treehouse. Kate is convinced that something is wrong with Esther but John does not believe her. Kate then buys wine which she refrains from drinking. The next day Esther causes Kate's car to roll into on coming traffic with Max inside. Esther points out the wine to John, who tells Kate to go to rehab or he will leave with the kids. Kate finds Esther's hidden Bible and discovers that it came from the Saarne Institute in Estonia, which she eventually learns is a mental hospital. She e-mails a picture and asks for more information.
When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail's death from Max, he plans to retrieve the hammer and prove Esther's guilt. Esther overhears their conversation and confronts Daniel as he searches the treehouse, setting it on fire and locking Daniel inside. Daniel falls to the ground trying to escape and is knocked unconscious with a major neck injury. Esther attempts to kill him with a rock but Max stops her. While Daniel is hospitalized, Esther slips into his room and smothers him with a pillow but doctors quickly revive him. Kate realizes what Esther did to Daniel and attacks Esther but orderlies help John to restrain her. As John takes Esther and Max home, doctors sedate Kate.
That night, Esther tries to seduce a drunken John, who finally believes Kate was right and threatens to send Esther back to the orphanage. Meanwhile, as Kate is coming out of sedation, she receives a call from Doctor Värava at the Saarne Institute, who reveals that Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She has hypopituitarism, a condition that stunted her physical growth, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. Värava tells Kate that Leena is extremely violent and has murdered at least seven people, including a family who adopted her in Estonia, whom she killed because the father rejected her sexual advances.
Leena flies into a rage after being spurned by John and ransacks her room. She removes the makeup, false teeth, and body wrappings that enhanced her illusion as "Esther" and stabs John to death. Max witnesses this and hides. Kate cannot reach John on the phone and rushes home to find him dead. Leena gets a gun from John's safe and shoots Kate in the arm, then goes searching for Max, finding her in the greenhouse. While Leena shoots at Max, Kate crawls onto the greenhouse roof, breaks through the glass above Leena, and lands on her, knocking her out. Kate takes the gun and leaves the greenhouse with Max.
Leena regains consciousness and finds Kate and Max outside near a frozen pond. Leena lunges at Kate, knocking the gun out of Kate's hand and hurling them both onto the ice. Max watches from a hill above and picks up the gun and tries to shoot Leena, but shatters the ice instead, causing Kate and Leena to drop into the water. After a brief struggle, Kate climbs partially out of the pond with Leena clinging to her legs. Leena, hiding 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 kicks Leena in the face, breaking her neck and sending her back into the pond. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.
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.
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 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 acclaimed 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|