Take a Drink: whenever the sound design makes you jump
Take a Drink: for warning signs, or anything that sounds like it might be
Take a Drink: for evil glances
Take a Drink: for fucked up violence
Do a Shot: haha, Russian roulette
Do a Shot: for blacklights
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Jaume Collet-Serra has made a career of creating credible badasses from less than dangerous material.
The amount of editing tells you everything.
His greatest trick in that regard has to be Orphan. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard play a happy married couple with two bouncing babes, but Farmiga never quite recovers from losing a third, and they eventually decide to adopt a precocious nine year old Russian girl (Isabelle Fuhrman). This is a horror film. Adoption agencies and orphanages everywhere weep.
Orphan starts out very well. Collet-Serra establishes a foreboding tone early, particularly through bravura use of sound design, and admirably shows more than he tells. Everything is slickly, if dourly, shot, and Farmiga and Sarsgaard’s easy chemistry makes you care about them. When we first met Fuhrman, she has a slightly creepy air about her that is offset by our ability to root for her underdog status. When violence first strikes, the first instinct is to cheer…
Orphan is almost impressively subtle and morally ambiguous… until it isn’t. Suddenly everything is evil stares and hamfisted foreshadowing. If you have even rudimentary Dora the Explorer skills, pretty much the rest of the plot is laid out for you.
Cuidado! Constata a sus dientes!
The direction also loses several shades of grey. Now we get jump scares aplenty, complete with screeching score, and characters making stupid decisions because the plot says so.
The plot, so subtle and patient in the beginning, suddenly turns a corner and starts barreling towards insanity, shedding brain cells like an Alaskan Malamute some bastard brought to Miami sheds dignity.
Fuhrman, somehow, amps up her performance to match the craziness, and is the only reason to stick with it, up to the admittedly successful mindfuck of a final twist.
Orphan is half compelling dramatic thriller and half silly B-movie, because they have to get to that whopper of a twist somehow. It’s not a good mix.