Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Orphan-Just One Evil Little Bitch



Recent criticisms of the horror movie The Orphan are for the most part, let us say, out of all proportion to the films artistic merits. In fact, they have little, if anything whatsoever, to do with the film's artistic merits, regrettably, and almost everything to do with sociological matters which are wholly irrelevant.

Anymore, if you find a film objectionable, take heart. All you have to do is search through Twitter and there’s a chance you will find any number of people who share your views, and will go all out to do their part to insure the movie in question crashes and burns on its opening weekend. One case in point is the recent Sasha Baron Cohen film “Bruno”, which was roundly trashed on Twitter, so much to the point that it might have been the main factor behind the film’s dismal showing. Its first night garnered sixteen million dollars. Based in no small measure on what is probably the first unholy alliance between the Christian Right and gay activists, the following night’s take plunged to less than half of that.

Is this a portent of things to come? We might soon learn, depending on the overall performance of the latest offering in the evil child/bad seed horror genre, The Orphan.

The first half of the film is a psychological thriller. From there, the second half veers into what some might regard as a typical slasher flick. Some have complained about the movie’s length, clocking in just at two hours. Others have complained about too great a reliance on the standard horror film clich├ęs that have become almost trite-the running up the stairs, the sudden apparition of evil in the closing medicine cabinet mirror, the suddenly ominous soundtrack that leads to absolutely nothing but dashed expectations, etc.

Moreover, of course, some have complained about the so-called gratuitous violence and, especially, the role of the title character itself, some pointing out that the level of violence and language exhibited by a character portrayed by a preteen child might even rise to the level of child abuse.

Mainly, however, the vast majority of the complaints center not on these, many of which are valid enough criticisms of the film on its artistic merits, but on the idea that this film is exploitative not only of little Miss Fuhrman and the other child stars, but of the whole idea of child adoption. Some adoption advocates have even called for a boycott. In a seeming effort to take up their cause, a film critic for the Washington Post has written what amounts to about one half of one percent film review, while the bulk of the hit piece is basically an editorial about the sociological implications of the film, which she calls a “piece of filth”.

A more balanced review (among many others) is posted by Kurt Loder on MTV, and I am happy to note that in the latest MTV on-line poll, the majority favor the prospect of seeing “Esther” over the other weekend offerings, The Orphan drawing well over fifty percent of the vote. This might well be a case of backlash against what many with not a little merit feel to be an unfair propaganda campaign run by yet another would-be entitled special interest group-adoption advocates.

A good gauge of the films actual impact and worth might well be the IMBD comments to the review itself. Out of a considerable number of posts, the vast majority seem to like the film to one degree or another. I never read one in fact that described it as a bad film.


Esther, the title character played by eleven year-old (at time of filming) actress Isabella Fuhrman, is one evil little bitch, but she somehow manages to worm her way into the hearts of adoptive parents John and Kate, despite the suspicions of the couple’s older son, who advises them at one point that they should send Esther “back to retard camp”. Before long, a box-cutter held strategically to his genitals convinces the suspicious little boy to put his dislike of his newly adopted sister in perspective.

Before long, though, other things happen, including the near murder of a neighbor’s child, which induces Kate to start viewing Esther with a great and growing deal of alarm. One wonders well before this point why alarm bells did not go off upon learning that Esther was the lone survivor of a house fire that destroyed her previous adoptive family. On the other hand, Esther, in addition to being a prodigy, is a charming little devil, not at all the way she appears in the film’s trailers (at least not at first). She has John suckered in a big way, to the point he is blind to the obvious and growing signs that, indeed, something might be wrong with Esther.

Eventually, in fact, Esther, the charming little psychopath, makes an attempt to seduce her very adult albeit naive adopted father, who has previously had a tendency to stray from the confines of his marriage, especially following the stillbirth of the couple’s last child. This in fact is the event, portrayed at the movie’s beginning in a horribly grotesque and bloody dream sequence, which leads to Esther’s adoption. Due to Kate’s tendencies to engage in alcoholic binges, John blames her for the miscarriage, just as he blames her for the accident that lead to the near-deafness and muteness of their daughter Alex, due to an accident on a frozen pond that occurred while Kate lay passed out drunk.

John and Kate is in fact a delightfully dysfunctional couple, and they play their roles to the hilt, as do the film’s child stars. Another treat for fans of the old FX television series The Shield will be the appearance of an old friend, CCH Pounder, in the role of the nun who runs the orphanage from where our hopeful couple meets and adopts Esther.

Finally, while it is true that this at first glance seems to be a typical standard evil child movie, this film has a twist that should be so unexpected, it would leave you stunned, breathless and, yes, even horrified. Unfortunately, it is easy enough to find out what the plot twist is merely by browsing the internet. It is so devious, so calculatingly cunning and diabolical, it is all I can do to keep from shouting it out in bold all caps, but I will restrain myself.

I advise you to similarly restrain yourself from reading any spoilers and just go see the damn film. The character development and the acting (especially from Isabella Fuhrman as Esther) are on their own reason enough to see this film, but if you positively have to have a clue as to what the surprise twist of the film is, I will give you one hint, and one hint only.

There is a very good reason why no one can find any records pertaining to Esther’s birth and origins.

That’s all I can say, though I will add one observation for the sake of those adoption advocates who seem determined to read something into this film that just isn't there-that Esther, at least on some deep, subconscious, symbolic level, is somehow representative of your average adopted child. If you do happen to stumble across a prospective adoptive couple who might be swayed against child adoption by the subject matter of this film, I would advise you to refer them to a good animal shelter.

3 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

I saw a screening of The Orphan. It was a hoot. I enjoyed it for what it was.

A much better movie is the 1950s The Bad Seed. It was the first US movie in history, with a heel, murdering little girl. The ending was changed from the original stage presentation, because of the Hayes Commission.

I wish you'd get a template that loads faster. Even with fast computers, your page opens slow.

The Pagan Temple said...

It might be the browser you're using. Juno is crap. Are you still using that. I don't know why else you would be having problems, unless its the filter on the computer you're using having a problem with my content. I seriously doubt it's the template.

I went ahead and took Sonia off my blogroll, along with some others that rarely if ever update. I bookmarked her site though, so if she ever starts blogging again I'll put her back on. Have you heard from her?

Anonymous said...

So many people don't care about global warming. They disregard the need for conservation and instead drive SUVs. They don't care about the Federal deficit/debt (outside of partisanship) and they don't care earning $400k for an $80,000/year job will eventually bankrupt the country. They have awarded themselves $400k pay and retirement packages, loading up their friends on the payroll during the boom 90s through the real estate bust while all services which the program were intended to fund now get cut to pay for it.
These people are often common public university labor. Not Ivy League, not private university.
This labor isn't good enough to earn the salaries they are earning. And they understood this when they applied to the public university they settled on.
You can't expect a top-tier salary with a second-rate education.
They think they are going sometime during/at the end of this life, and disregard the poor souls who are left behind.
Sounds like the Italians who were used to plan World War II and the Holocaust, and not by accident.
These are the people who will be here in the United States when bankruptcy is declared and society deteriorates into chaos. And they will deserve the anarchy which ensues.

The gods used the Italians to ruin life in the 20th century.
The gods used the Italians to ruin life in A.D. with The Church.
The Church controlled Western Civilization. As the largest land owner in Europe they controlled the monarchies. They were responsbile for slavery, revenge for African invasion and rape of Italy. They created religious discontent, ultimately leading to the disfavored dumping ground known as the United States.
And each generation of these Italians were sold on "earning", only to be reincarnated as a lesser life form subsequently, punishment for their evil.
"The West Bank, where the end of the world will begin." With xtianity.

The gods are the commensurate rapist pathology, focussed on control.
It is appropriate they picked the Italians for the downfall of man. The perception offered is exactly how the gods are. Unfortunate for the Italians, they were deliberately altered to match this pathology so the god's behavior could be justified in the context of the god's positioning.

I may not have learned as much as I have but I WOULD have gotten more done and made more progress, and at the end of this life that's all that matters. We will all be reincarnated and must re-learn about the gods and their methodology in each sucessive life.
The upside down star is my symbol. There is of course no Satan. That's just the gods with different clothes on.
You're all in big, big trouble. Everyone who failed to ascend before 1900 is. But the importance of this Situation is to ensure people learn the god's system while they have enough time to fix their relationship and ascend before The End.
Don't forget:::Ascending into "heaven" is not the same as entering clone hosting. One is good while the other is evil. The clue is their request to work multiple clone hosts to "earn", for if you were welcome into heaven you would be invited directly. My example of someone who ascended is John Muir. His "fake" went on to accomplish BUT NOT IN A DISCIPLINE WHICH HURT PEOPLE OR PROVIDED FOR SOME TEMPTATION. What happens after speaks volumes.
You're on the clock. This is where the cream rises to the top.