Orphan: First Kill
orphan | orphan: first kill | sequel | william brent bell | david coggeshall | isabelle fuhrman | julia stiles | rossif sutherland | prequel | crime | drama | mystery | thriller | united states | canada | hiro kanagawa | matthew finlan | samantha walkes | david lawrence brown
Film: Orphan: First Kill
Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: David Coggeshall
Starring: Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland
This is a movie that I was shocked to hear they were making. When I learned that it was going to be a prequel, that made more sense. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the original so that is part of it. It also is quite a long time between the first one coming out and this being made. Regardless, I figured I would check this out ahead of making my year end list.
Synopsis: after orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.
Where I want to start is that this movie sets up what we know from the original. Esther is Leena. She is being held in an institute as the synopsis said. She is the most dangerous patient there according to the doctor in charge. The opening sequence is a new art teacher coming to the institute to work with her and others. This woman is Anna (Gwendolyn Collins). What I found interesting is that the doctor who lets her in, Dr. Novotny (David Lawrence Brown), sets up that she is a con artist. That plays into her escaping.
Once out, Leena gets on the internet looking for a missing child that is similar in how she looks. This leads her to Esther Albright. Leena sets it up to be found by a police officer, saying that she was kidnapped from the United States and brought to Russia. This gives hope to Allen (Rossif Sutherland) and Tricia (Julia Stiles). They are the parents to Esther. There is also a son, Gunnar (Matthew Finlan), who is good at fencing. He is also a bit of a snob. The detective that oversaw the investigation for Esther was Donnan (Hiro Kanagawa). He’s the one that relays the information to the family.
Tricia goes to confirm that it is Esther. She notices the differences, but her and Allen believe it to be her. There is more to what is going on here though and it is complicated on both sides. Esther makes mistakes, for obvious reasons. Things take a dark turn though as this façade goes on and doesn’t end well as you can imagine.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap as that gets to the first major reveal of the movie. It wasn’t something I was necessarily expecting, but I like the route that they went with it. What I want to include here is that this knows what it is doing and I appreciate that. There is a commentary here that I can appreciate as it is something that is well documented. Since I can’t delve too much into it, what I will say is that money and wealth bring privilege. We see that almost at once with Gunnar. He is quite snooty. Tricia, it turns out is not too far from him. The only who is down to Earth enough that I liked was Allen. He just misses his daughter and I think that blinds him a bit.
Now with that set up, this is a hard movie to make in my opinion. The original is all predicated on the reveal. I’m guessing that most everyone coming in has seen that first one and knows the truth about Esther. This one must lean into that from the beginning as a prequel. There are stakes that are taken away due to that. We know that she survives. That is part of my issues with prequels. I can appreciate that this knows that and goes a bit over the top to have fun with it. There is a back and forth between Esther and Tricia as well as between the former and Gunnar. I came to expect the butting of the heads for the latter duo. Not all this works though. This does go a bit too cheesy at times, but not enough to ruin it.
What I think makes this work though is that Fuhrman embodies this character. I believe the role of Esther was the first that I saw her in. I’m glad that in the framework of this movie, it allows her to do a bit more. We see little things that are in the original. That is fun to see the origins of not only the character, but of her quirks. This is about her and developing the character more. It is done well there. Stiles is solid enough. The issues with her character that I have come more from the writing. I did like the character shift that we get with her though. It is different from the mother in the original while still being similar. Sutherland is good as the father here. I love that he’s the rock and the one that so badly wants to believe that Leena is Esther. That brings a bit of heart. I like Kanagawa as this nosey detective. Finlan plays this rich, arrogant, older brother well. The rest of the cast also rounds this out for what was needed.
The last things then to go into would be with the filmmaking. First, I want to set up that this is a fun popcorn, mainstream horror movie. I think that the cinematography is good. There aren’t a lot in the way of effects. What is more effective is the editing. Esther is a con artist so I like that she manipulates things to where people are disarmed by her. She is a bit sloppy early into this, but we see what she becomes. There are things she does and how they’re presented to us that I can see how it tricks people. Other than that, I’d say the soundtrack worked for what was needed without standing out.
In conclusion, this is a fun movie as I’ve said. It isn’t doing anything new and doesn’t pack the punch that the first one did. It is hard to follow that up though. What I’ll give credit to here is that this one knows what it is doing. It isn’t trying to do anything new. It wants to develop more of the character and the backstory what we got in that original. I can appreciate that. I think that Fuhrman does great in being Esther. The rest of the cast is fine in support and to push her to where she ends up. I think this is made well enough and had no issues there. If you like the first one, go ahead and give this a viewing. Not as good, but still a solid movie overall.
My Rating: 7 out of 10