It’s no secret that I love a good killer kid flick but with the exception of TOM SHANKLAND’s THE CHILDREN (‘08), they have been pretty scarce of late. Kids do show up often in modern horror but for the most part, they have been hollow-eyed window dressing propped up to utter Cassandra-like warnings or just plain ineffectual, weightless ghouls. It’s about damn time somebody stripped the supernatural out of the equation and introduced a killer kid who cuts through the bullshit and gets the job done. The tag line for THE ORPHAN may read “There’s something wrong with Esther,” but for those thirsty for a new horror icon, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Esther at all.
You might think reading this review on a website called Kindertrauma might mean that I was an easy target for THE ORPHAN and that essentially in my case, the filmmakers were preaching to the converted. There may be some truth to that, but let me say that after learning the film was being delivered by DARK CASTLE ENTERTAINMENT I was cautiously un-optimistic. DARK CASTLE has provided snippets of worthy horror but they usually have a chronic ability to screw up their films by trying way too hard. What should be a straight forward affair usually ends up a convoluted heap of kitchen sink half-thoughts resembling a late in the game KATAMARI DAMACY ball. THE ORPHAN carries little baggage besides a water cooler ready, ace up its sleeve, and it is all the better for it. God bless its adherence to the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it simple stupid!) and its highly unfashionable patience.
Taking structural cues from domestic disturbance television flicks and early nineties usurper porn (a shout out to my peeps Peyton Flanders and Hedy Carlson!), THE ORPHAN bravely discards the typical pandering bells and whistles (AUNT JOHN SEZ: Do you mean ta-tas?) used to glamour (in the TRUE BLOOD sense) teenage boys and gets right down to some seriously trashy campadelic partying. That it is able to provide actual acting opportunities to its adult cast in the meantime is just that much more impressive. It’s by no means a seamless masterpiece, and logic is not so much leaped over as jet-packed over, but there’s no way around the fact that you get your money’s worth here.
I don’t care how much cash this baby hauls in or how many knee jerk, dismissive reviews it accumulates, even if it has to gain its reputation in the home market, I assure you that THE ORPHAN is here to stay, be it by go-to punchline, S.N.L. skit or SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR reference, Esther is going to wedge the heal of her Buster Browns into the public consciousness for good. Even if the general public turns their back there is no way the gays are going to drop this ball. Drag queens, practice your Russian accent, October is only a few months away!
P.S. Commit this name to your memory: ISABELLE FUHRMAN!
UPDATE: A little added incentive to go see THE ORPHAN while it’s still in theaters…