Thursday, August 20, 2009

ORPHAN – Who thinks this shit up?

Orphan isn’t a horror movie. It isn’t scary. It tries to be, it tries desperately.

I’m not saying Orphan is a bad film – it passes the time and keeps the audience engaged and vaguely interested. The characters aren’t wholly unbelievable, the script is decent, it’s not gratuitous or unnecessarily gory. But it’s not scary – and that leaves you asking: what is it then?

Is it a psychological thriller? The character development isn’t strong enough for that. Is it an examination of paranoia and fear in a dysfunctional marriage? It’s not deep enough for that.

No, this film is a hodge-podge. It’s a kinda original but ultimately failed attempt by Jaume Collet-Serra, in his first major directorial release, to combine the two major plot-lines of all good horror films: the evil child and the usurping, jealous female intruder. It’s sort of “Children of the Corn” meets “Hand that rocks the cradle” – it tries to play into the two most basic fears of womanhood – your children being in danger, and your husband being stolen.

Sadly the combination is ultimately ridiculous – you find yourself actually laughing at the climactic scenes – the resolution is ultimately unsatisfying because you just don’t believe anyone would think of making a plot that silly.

In some ways, it’s a big missed opportunity. Had the film firmly opted for psychological thriller rather than falling between stools – it could have been strong. The themes of marital infidelity, suspicion, alcoholism, child neglect, paranoia, paedophilia, and personality disorders are genuinely dark and deeply disturbing. But the film doesn’t have the balls to take a chance on these and run with them – and ultimately cops out and becomes yet another 2-dimensional shock-flick.

That’s not to say I didn’t have fun – I did. It passed the time, and was mildly entertaining. Just don’t get your hopes up for a fright or for intellectual satisfaction. It delivers neither.

ORPHAN is on release in the US, UK, Canada, the Philippines, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Panama, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and South Africa. It opens in September in Malaysia, Serbia, Brazil, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, India, Argentina, Greece, Slovakia, Poland and Japan. It opens in October in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Iceland, Spain, Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Portugal. It opens in November in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and in December in Belgium.

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