© 2009 Warner Bros. Pictures

Orphan (2009)

The Bad Seed, about a cute little girl in pigtails who murders when no one is looking, must have been pretty shocking when it was released in 1956. It also established the whole evil kid genre, which has had its high points (The Exorcist, the original The Omen, and Rosemary’s Baby, if that counts) as well as low points (Exorcist sequels, Omen sequels and remakes, and just about everything else with a wicked offspring).  The whole genre is overplayed, and Orphan has all of its trappings: a seemingly perfect girl from a mysterious country, a child humming a normally happy song in a creepy way, a completely clueless adult, and a villain that just won’t die. Added to all these clichés are some idea pretty offensive to adopted kids and their families. “It must be difficult to love an adopted child as much as your own,” the evil little Esther says as she tries to seduce her new dad. And there is a pretty ridiculous plot twist that tries to explain what makes Esther such a stinker. And yet this film is still enjoyable, and for one reason only: Isabelle Fuhrman is great and genuinely creepy in the title role. Fuhrman has several films that are listed as being in post-production on IMDB, and it will be interesting to see how she transitions to playing teenage and hopefully adult roles.

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