You know those movies where bad things happen to the family when the husband disregards the fear and warnings of his wife? Or how about the ones where a creepy little kid brings all kinds of stress to everyone’s life? Even better, the movies where the antagonist gets away with their shit entirely too long because everyone around them has very poor communication skills? Well, Orphan is all of these. All. Of. Them.
When Kate and John Coleman’s (Vera Farmiga and Peter Saarsgard) third child is stillborn, the grief doesn’t just hit the entire family badly, but has a negative impact on their already strained marriage, and threatens to undo Kate’s hard won victory over alcoholism and years of sobriety. Rather than go to couple’s counseling, or at least take a family vacation and focus on the two healthy kids that they do have, the couple decide to instead adopt a child from the local orphanage to help fill the void. Initially planning on an infant, Kate and John meet Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), and are completely taken with her bows, manners, and very out of place Eastern European accent, and decide to adopt her instead.
Esther is a little bit odd, but Kate and John, as well as their deaf-mute daughter, Max (Aryana Engineer) immediately warm to her. The only person who isn’t here for her is the Coleman’s son, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett). Kate is the first person to become suspicious of Esther, then her son, but both fail to stop her or talk to one another as more and more people turn up missing or seriously injured around her, and when Kate tries to warn her husband that something is very wrong with their new daughter, he uses her alcoholism to invalidate her concerns.
Orphan is fantastic because it is scary, but not too much as to keep you up at night, and realistic, but just ridiculous enough that you never forget that you’re watching a movie. Filled with drama, trauma, family dysfunction, and a wild twist that you’ll never see coming, Orphan reminds us all of the importance of open lines of communication, and accurate dental records.
I give this one 3.5 stars.