Isabelle Fuhrman who played a con artist and psycho-killer in Jaume Collet-Serra’s suspenseful Orphan reprises her role as a faux child for a prequel with a new twist. Her breakthrough role as Esther Albright, at the age of ten, playing a cunning woman in her thirties pretending to be a nine-year-old child, was impressively sinister and heightened the film’s gloriously unpredictable twist.
Now in her mid-twenties, the credibility of Fuhrman actually pulling off being a child is somewhat reduced, and the dull direction from William Brent Bell is no match for the original. Yet there’s still some fun to be had with the enjoyably trashy premise and a game cast that are fully in on the joke.
Julia Stiles (having a ball) and Rossif Sutherland star as Tricia and Allen, the unlucky and wealthy parents who believe they have been reunited with their lost child, when in fact they are now caregivers to a dangerous, escapee patient from an Estonian psychiatric facility. Allen is an artist who gets his mojo back after his daughter’s return, Tricia seems happy before her suspicions arise, and their teenage son Gunnar can’t stand the sight of his little sister, who he likens to Lizzie Borden. To say much more, would be to give the game away.
Fuhrman’s performance as Esther is once again entertainingly unhinged. She still knows how to shoot a dirty look like no other, and relishes in the character’s spiteful and vicious behaviour to hilarious ends. Any time she’s on screen there’s something to enjoy and even watching her menacingly viewing a Shirley Temple film is strangely hypnotic. The villain origin story often comes with some sort of explanation as to why a person has lost their humanity, but the screenplay by David Coggeshall could care less about exploring any of that, instead simply embracing the absurdity of it all with brutal kills and devious cat and mouse games.
Signature Entertainment presents Orphan: First Kill exclusively in cinemas from 19th August. Find more reviews at SciFiNow.