Saturday, October 23, 2010


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
2009. Rated R, 123 minutes.
Vera Farmiga
Isabelle Fuhrman
Peter Sarsgaard
Aryana Engineer

Plot: After the pregancy of what would've been their third child ends in miscarriage, the Coleman family decides to adopt. They settle on nine year old Esther (Fuhrman) and get a lot more than they bargained for.

The Good: It does a great job creating atmosphere. The whole thing has a dark, brooding temperament. As our adoptive mom Kate, Vera Farmiga is perfectly fragile while hubby John (Sarsgaard) is perfectly oblivious. We can see the two effectively being played against one another by the evil Esther. Speaking of Esther, the movie pulls no punches when it comes to her dastardly deeds and creepiness. At first, the coming and going of her Russian accent bothers you but trust me, there's reason for that. Its all part of a great setup for a wonderfully silly twist that might make you shake your head but works well, regardless, given what happens to that point and enables the movie to give us a really creepy scene involving a lot of makeup towards the end.

The Bad: There are a few plotholes to be found and liberties taken with the legal process (Social Services should've intervened several times). More bothersome is how quickly John is ready to put his wife out, given the circumstances, and also how much of a wuss their son is. If he had manned up like we thought he would this might've been a very different and much shorter movie. For us folks over thirty, the whole thing is very reminiscent of The Good Son which starred Macauley Culkin in the evil kid role.

The Ugly: There's a disclaimer at the start of the movie basically begging us to adopt. Of course in the movie that follows, the orphan lies, steals, commits murder and all out terrorizes the family that adopts her.

Recommendation: Its a fun, over the top thriller that builds nicely until we get a twist you can't see coming. It absolutely works within the context of the film. Some may find it a bit silly. Those people will insist its a terrible movie and compare it to the worst of M. Night Shyamalan. For the rest of us, its an exciting ride that will keep us far away from the orphanage.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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