Orphan (2009)

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Warner Brothers || R - 123 minutes - $28.98 || October 27, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-10-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer(s): Alex Mace (story), David Johnson (screenplay)
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman


Theatrical Release Date: July 24, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Additional Scenes
  • Alternate Ending


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Surround 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Surround 5.1), French (Dolby Surround 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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.::THE FILM::.

I saw Orphan when it hit theaters during its long yet uneventful theatrical run over the summer and wasnít really impressed with it. Iím not sure why, although it probably had to do with the nearly two-hour long run time that it sports. Or maybe it was the incredibly long lackluster story that accompanied it that took forever to get to the good parts, and once it was there, I stopped caring. After watching it on DVD just now, I can say that thereís a great reason why the film underperformed: it just isnít up to par with other horror/suspense flicks as of late.

Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) are going to the hospital since Kate is having a child. It turns out though she lost the child sometime ago and their relationship is left somewhat in shambles. The couple already has two kids, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) and the deaf Max (Aryana Engineer), both of whom are great kids but with a shattered past from something Kate went through. The couple decides to go and adopt from an orphanage where they are greeted by Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder) and led to a party for the kids to meet and greet them. John wanders off to use the can, and winds up meeting Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) who bonds with him immediately. Upon immediate decision making that most couples go through, they decide to bring Esther home and thatís when the trouble begins.

Trouble starts occurring around the house and at school once Esther arrives. She gets picked on profusely by the kids at school, and so does Daniel for being related to her (sort of). Esther however isnít all she seems though, as she turns out to be quite the devious little kid. Brenda (Jamie Young) pokes fun at her for how she dresses and knocks her books down during a day of class, and Esther gets her back by shoving her off a slide and breaking her leg. Yeah, I wish I was a kid again to remember those fun times. Then even more strange things start happening, such as people disappearing and Estherís strange appearance. Oh, and tackle that onto the fact that Abigail goes missing, and youíve got yourself quite an interesting mystery. Is Esther who she really is, or are all the things happening just coincidence?

Well, you obviously know that itís no coincidence since I just told you that Esther pushed the girl off the slide and made it pretty clear that sheís the reason the bad things start happening. But thatís just one of the many problems involved with this flick. Clocking in at two-hours, the movie takes literally forever to get to any action scene. In fact itís about seventy or so minutes into the flick until the decent things start happening for a horror movie. A few of the death scenes are a bit bloody and violent, but not to the extent that Iím used to so it underperformed for me there.

Thereís also a big ďtwistĒ at the end of the film that youíd seriously have to be living in a hole and not watched any of the movie to have guessed. Although, living in a hole does sound better than watching this again to be honest. Iíll give credit to Farmiga and Fuhrman for their performances in their respective roles as Kate and Esther. They do perform quite well and Iíve always found Farmigaís acting to be better than the roles sheís given, and Fuhrman has a great future in the horror industry if she has a decent agent. Itís not their fault that they were put into this flick with a horrible story, terrible runtime, and just nothing really scary about it.

Speaking of scary, the few jump moments involved with the flick are bad. Itís obvious that when Kate opens the mirror that someone is going to pop out in the reflection, or when she opens the refrigerator that someone wonít be there. The film tries to capitalize too much too soon on the scare tactics, and by about the fourth or fifth one audiences will (or should) be used to it and guessing when itís going to happen or if itís not occurring. The whole element of horror/suspense films is to create a surprise or a mystery that audiences want to see turn out. Instead here we get a lame horror/suspense flick that just doesnít amount to either of the genre itís supposed to be.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Additional Scenes (3 minutes): There are only a few scenes here, and they donít make a lick of sense so donít bother.

Alternate Ending (1 minute): This isnít even a ďchilling alternate ending,Ē in fact this is just a deleted scene that didnít make it into the film that they tack on for no reason what so ever other than to market it as an extra.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I literally said the entire film ďdid someone fall asleep while working on the transfer of this flick?Ē at least thirty times. The first five minutes shows you all the problems that you can think have gone wrong during the transfer process. Among those, but not limited to, are the following: massive amounts of grain in nearly every scene, tons of distortion, overblown use of white colors, major contrast issues, and many more things that I would run out of room to type about. Grain is completely overpowering in this flick, the characterís hair glistens from the distortion, and white is so overused and frankly too plentiful that it distracts from the overall quality so much it hurt to watch. Heck, the walls seemed to move from so much darn grain involved.

Surprisingly, unlike the crappy video transfer described above, the Dolby Surround 5.1 track isnít really all that bad. Surround use is limited but during the few jump moments it was used properly. There isnít more than a handful of action sequences involved with this flick, so donít go expecting any sort of major loud noises coming from any speaker. The dialogue is almost all front-centered, and the only rear sounds youíll hear are from background noises only a handful of times. The dialogue is a little bit too low for my tastes, especially during scenes which are many where the characters whisper, so it needed a boost from my volume knob. The track is passable but not something we should be seeing on a new release.



.::OVERALL::.

Iím starting to get worried about the transfers being used at Warner Brothers. This isnít the first new release or catalog Iíve reviewed as of late that is of poor quality. Plus, with their idea to remove most if not all special features from the DVD and put them on the Blu-Ray puzzles me as to why they bother with DVDís anymore. The Orphan isnít by any means a good movie, but in all honesty I just canít recommend this one even for a rental due to the glaring video transfer and sluggishly long story. Oh, and the two measly extras also account into the previous statement as well. Sorry fans, this is one kid to not bother seeing whatís wrong with her.