July 24, 2009
Husband and wife John and Kate (plus eight?) suffer the unimaginable, ultimate tragedy when they lose their baby. To help alleviate the loss, they decide to adopt a sweet little nine-year-old girl named Esther. This wouldn't be a summer movie, though, if that was all there is to the story. If it were, it would either be a schlocky French movie that somehow manages to win awards and get "best foreign film" nominations, or it would be a self-indulgent independent movie that plays to rave reviews at Sundance. In fact - you guessed it - this is a bad little nine-year-old girl. Pure evil, actually. After the adoption, Kate gradually begins to suspect something is wrong and that the girl isn't normal and tries to convince John and others of the problem.
Peter Sarsgaard (who has a series of well-regarded performances including Shattered Glass and Jarhead) is John and Vera Farmiga (The Departed) is Kate. Unknown Isabelle Fuhrman plays Esther. (Seems like Dakota Fanning would have been the more obvious choice, though.) Jaume Collet-Serra directs the thriller from rookie David Johnson's screenplay of Alex Mace's story. You may recognize Collet-Serra as the director of House of Wax, which had the misfortune of starring Paris Hilton. That is quite a promotion to go from Paris Hilton to Sarsgaard and Farmiga.
A movie like this might normally be suited better for the September-October time frame, but a well-made thriller can succeed any time of year. Orphan opens in theaters nationwide in July 2009, as an alternative to superheroes, Pixar animation, sci-fi, and other big-budget extravaganzas. (Michael Bentley/BOP)