Mini Impressions: Orphan

2009’s Orphan follows a family that had previously lost a child on their journey through adoption. They visit an orphanage and meet a 9-year-old girl who is mature for her age but seems like she might fit in with the family. She also appears desperate to be adopted.

Once they bring her home, Esther, bonds with her new father and younger adopted sister, but has difficulties with school children, her adopted brother, and her mother. Slowly over time, it appears that she is not just mature for her age but well beyond what any 9-year-old should know. Kate, her adoptive mother, becomes suspicious but has trouble getting anyone to believe her because of her past struggles with alcoholism and Esther’s ability to bond with the people that she needs to. As Kate begins to unravel, so does Esther, who becomes increasingly violent and hostile until ultimately her secret is revealed.

On the off chance, you have not heard about the twist in this movie I want to remain purposely vague, only to say that it is pretty shocking and well hidden. It is clear for most horror fans almost from the word go that something is wrong with Esther; in fact, we are taught to fear intelligent children in horror movies. However, her story is unique and not one I have seen before.

The movie is impeccably acted with a great cast. The fact that it is set during winter helps support the narrative, because the coldness of the people in the movie is reflected in the setting itself. It makes for both beautiful and dark scenes and a movie that is a treat to look at it. The movie is well written and is a compelling story filled with lots of freaky moments but also heartbreaking scenes.

However, this will be one of my shortest Impressions because of my personal issues with the film. Objectively this is a great movie. It is chilling, the twist is fantastic, and it is well done.

I, however, hated the experience. The husband is so distrustful and awful to the wife that I found myself barely able to sit through the experience. It is rather disappointing to me because I know it’s a good movie and I wanted to enjoy it. But something about their dynamic really got to me and made me unable to do so.

I would still highly recommend it to any genre fans that have not yet seen it, and may even one day give it a re-watch. It is not the scariest movie I have ever seen, but it is creepy and well done from start to finish. The tone is perfect, and Kate and Esther both falling apart at the same time is a great way to express what is happening in the movie.

I wish that Kate and her husband’s relationship had not bothered me so much, or that I could even explain why. There have been worse husbands in horror movies, but something about them just got to me.

If you don’t have a similar hang-up I am sure you can enjoy this movie. Even if you have already discovered the twist, it is still worth a watch. So I would say give this movie a go or if it’s been a while maybe another viewing.

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