Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.
Review: Prequels are a tricky thing. Their very nature means we already know where the story is going, so how do you keep viewers interested? Well the good ones know you need to fill in the backstory but also introduce enough that audiences will want to see the story continue even further. And that’s exactly what Orphan: First Kill does, and does really well.
Isabelle Fuhrman is the foundation of what made 2009’s Orphan so memorable and she returns here once again in the role of Esther, (SPOILER ALERT for the first film here) a woman who suffers with a rare disease that makes her appear much younger than her actual age, which in Orphan: First Kill is around 30. Fuhrman effortlessly slips back into the role and once again delivers a chilling and ruthless performance as the scariest orphan ever. She perfectly balances the innocence of a child with the deadly desires of an adult woman (whose condition most likely means she’s had a very messed up life) which once again made for an entertaining time.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Julia Stiles on screen (not that she’s been on hiatus as the lady has kept very busy) but personally I think the Bourne films are the movies she’s most known for. Here she plays the mother of Esther and to say more would be to spoil things, so I’ll just say I thought she nailed it. Rossif Sutherland plays her husband and Matthew Finlan plays son Gunnar. They’re both solid in their roles but unfortunately they don’t have that much to do here. It seems the fate of husbands in these roles is to be sidelined but at least he’s nowhere as unlikeable as the husband in the first movie.
Director William Brent Bell, who is no stranger to horror with movies like Stay Alive, Wer and The Boy (all of which I enjoyed) enhances Fuhrman’s performance by using top notch yet old school camera tricks such as forced perspectives to make her appear much smaller or shorter than she actually is. And the cinematography, with its washed-out colours and somewhat hazy visuals, gives the entire film a dreamlike quality which I think was a smart choice for a prequel.
The screenplay by David Coggeshall based off a story by Alex Mace and David Johnson-McGoldrick was the most surprising of all. As I mentioned earlier pulling off a prequel that isn’t predictable or boring isn’t an easy feat, but I’m pleased to report the story here is one I would never have expected if I had a hundred years to guess. The twist surprised the hell out of me and not only took the story in a direction no one would expect, but also adds a layer of sympathy to a character I would’ve never thought possible.
Horror fans will be pleased to know the brutality is amped up in this one and the movie wastes no time getting things started with a pace that doesn’t rush but never loses steam all the way to the finale. Overall, Orphan: First Kill does a solid job of bringing Esther back and making her just as memorable as the first time around. Considering it’s been 13 years in between films that’s one helluva feat. With one of the best twists I’ve seen in a thriller in some time, this movie proves prequels can work if they aren’t just created to be placeholders but are utilised as that last puzzle piece that makes the story whole.
Score: 7 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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