A Review Of Orphan: First Kill

A Review Of Orphan: First Kill

As we live in an era when virtually any successful property can be remade, sequel, or rebooted, it would have been unexpected that 2009’s “Orphan” would receive such recognition.

In addition to the fact that “Orphan” feels like a film that left the pop culture zeitgeist a very long time ago, it is also a kind of stand-alone story.

Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard play a couple who adopt a Russian girl named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), who turns out not to be a child at all but a sociopathic adult instead.

A Review Of Orphan: First Kill

There is some good tension-building provided by Jaume Collet-Serra in the film, but even fans weren’t clamoring for a sequel to the film. This week’s episode of “Orphan: First Kill” explains why this is so.

This would be a completely disposable movie except for its delightfully campy lead actress and some nice vamping done by one of her co-stars.

Esther is unlikely to emerge as a horror icon like Chucky, Jason, or Freddy in the near future. Despite the fact that its existence seemed unlikely a few years ago, who knows if it might actually exist today?

Esther escaped from an Estonian mental hospital before finding a new family, and the novel “First Kill” tells the story of the trouble she got into on her way to finding a new family.

Having buried her murderous past, Esther becomes a more traditional slasher villain in the early scenes of “First Kill,” willing to do anything to get the freedom she craves.

It is her plan that after she escapes from her captivity, she will impersonate the missing child of the Albrights in order to find safety in a wealthy family in the States.

Although some of the things about her story seem discordant, Tricia (Julia Stiles), Allen (Rossif Sutherland), and Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) are shocked to see their little girl return to the Albright family estate despite a few things that don’t seem to fit the story.

A showdown is inevitable between Esther and the Albrights because the Albrights have a secret that rivals Esther’s, although our anti-heroine must survive so that the first film can be made.

A Review Of Orphan: First Kill
A Review Of Orphan: First Kill

It is no secret that one of the biggest problems with “Orphan: First Kill” is the fact that the film was directed by William Brent Bell, the man behind “The Devil Inside,” “The Boy,” and “Separation,” who is stunningly unambitious.

He is stubbornly uninterested in creating visually impressive compositions, almost always content with simply throwing the action into the frame with little regard to framing or blocking.

There are times when “Orphan: First Kill” comes off as flat (and often cheap) when it really needs a visually astute director to come at it with the same glee that Fuhrman and Stiles brought to their film.

Regardless of how fans of the original movie feel, even the writer David Coggeshall knows that they can’t be surprised by that movie’s twist again, so he tries to outdo that with a bonkers turn at the end of the movie that will not be spoiled here (but I almost want to recommend that you watch the movie).

It is a bit better for Bell here than in most of his movies because he has more to work with here, but it seems he is always willing to play it safe when this movie needs someone to embrace the sheer absurdity of its very existence in its own absurdity.

The assignment was understood by Fuhrman and Stiles. Fuhrman, who was so good in last year’s “The Novice” as well, is a master at playing coiled tension, and she is able to hold together much of the film with her sheer will and determination.

As for Stiles, she goes from being a grieving mother to something with sharper edges during the course of the film, as the actress sells some of the film’s more outlandish turns excellently.

Despite the fact that there are several opportunities missed here to dig into class commentary and family roles, this is often overshadowed by how much fun Furhman and Stiles seem to be having in the film’s second half.

It’s almost enough to make you wish that Fuhrman would return for another installment of “Orphan”. As a result, its existence will not be such a surprise this time around.

This film is now available in theaters, on digital platforms, and on Paramount+, where it can be streamed.