The horror movie thats like Tolstoy, but with more blood – Sydney Morning Herald


(MA15+) 99 minutes, cinemas

If a horror film needs horrible deeds, this would certainly qualify. Two men are murdered in the preamble by two different women in an Estonian mental hospital in 2007.

Isabelle Fuhrman has reprised her role as Esther, who is 31 years old but looks about 10.

If we add the need to be really scary surely a fundamental then this film might not pass, but it surely offers other pleasures: a touch of gallows humour, a twist thats hard to predict and a third act that takes us a long way from Kansas, if you get my drift.

There are lots of horror films in which a child is the centre of the evil axis, The Omen (1976) being one of the most influential. The British film The Innocents (1961) had an evil brother and sister. Its a favourite trope of horror: children are supposed to be born innocent, but what if not all of them are? Thats a nasty thought because it justifies, or tries to justify, violence against children but only bad children, the ones who kill. So thats all right then

Orphan: First Kill has an ingenious script that navigates these shoals with care. Its a prequel to the 2009 film Orphan, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who was born in Barcelona but has spent most of his career in Hollywood. Orphan was from a script by Alex Mace and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Isabelle Fuhrman, then aged 10, gave a celebrated performance as a child adopted by parents who have lost a baby. Esther (Fuhrman) turned out to be seriously dangerous, especially to other children.

There would be no point making a second film without Fuhrman, but how do you do a prequel when the actress is now 13 years older? The writers above (with David Coggeshall) hit the medical books and found a syndrome that stunts some childrens growth.

Esther is 31 in the prequel, but she still looks about 10-12. She escapes the Saarne Institute, a not-so-secure psychiatric facility in Estonia. Esther is intelligent and cunning: she goes online and adopts the identity of an abducted child who looks similar. The child disappeared from a rich American family. Pretty soon Esther is living in luxury in Connecticut, where her parents Tricia (Julia Stiles) and Allen (Rossif Sutherland) are overjoyed at her return. Her brother Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) looks less pleased.

The horror movie thats like Tolstoy, but with more blood - Sydney Morning Herald

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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