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Release Date: 08/19/22 [Paramount+]

Genre: Crime/Drama/Horror

Studio: Paramount Players

"After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family."


It's hard to believe it has been 13 years since Isabelle Fuhrman first creeped the heck out of horror fans as Esther; the incredibly cute, impossibly wise little girl who hid a very dark secret. Orphan continues to hold onto its die-hard fanbase for a couple reasons — namely its incredible cast and a twist that flirts with Sixth Sense levels of epicness. 


Fans of the first film will be happy to know that Orphan: First Kill boasts an almost equally cool plot twist, though its reveal comes much earlier than in its predecessor. And all those questions fans had about the logistics of the film — you know, like how a 25-year-old woman can appear younger than she did at age 12 —  do get answered, and the use of body doubles and some clever camera angles create the illusion well enough. 


The cast is quite good, and Fuhrman transitions seamlessly back into the role that made her horror royalty. Incredibly, though, it’s Julia Stiles who steals the show for me. Her character development is wild to say the least (plus, as an elder millennial, I am happy to see her doing well and getting employed.)


Now, for the not-so-good: The film is dark. REALLY dark. And I mean that literally. I found myself needing to squint for at least the first 30 minutes, and these aren’t scenes that necessarily benefit from any type of low-key lighting. Plot-wise, the story takes a nose dive in its final stretch… leaning on the kinds of cheesy horror tropes that fans of Orphan love the film for rebelling against. There’s also some not-so-stellar CGI thrown in that makes me wonder if the artists were in a rush.  


All that said…the story takes a turn many won’t expect, and it raises the question: Who’s the real villain, here? And in a horror landscape that is increasingly asking viewers to use zero percent of their brains, that’s something that we should appreciate. It probably won’t do much for people who are unfamiliar with the characters, but fans of the first Orphan should definitely check it out.

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