(guest review from Jason from invasionofthebmovies.com!)
Normally my fiancee doesn't like horror movies and whenever I wanna see one I have to beg and plead to go with me until she gets tired of me begging and goes "ALRIGHT SHUT UP ALREADY!!" I had to do that with "The Orphan". Granted, when I first heard about this movie, I said to myself "Another little kid goes crazy and murders people" movie? Then I was intreged cause this one was rated R. And when's the last time you saw and R-Rated horror movie? A long time. So I had to see what that was about.
The movie starts and it takes forever to get all the backstory told. The mom was a drunk, the little girl is deaf, the son is rather bland, and Peter Gyllenhaal is there not playing a creepy guy this time around. We dive head first into the lives of these people so much to the point where it's like I know what to get them for Christmas.
Finally around the 30 minute mark, they talk about adoption cause their third kid died before being born or something and a lot of time was spent crying about this. They go to some orphanage run by nuns and look around at all the kids.
I never thought about adoption but how exactly do you pick a kid to adopt? Do you make them put on a presentation on why they're the best choice? Do they have to write essays? If I was looking for adopting, I probably would do like an "American Idol" thing and let it drag out for 18 weeks until it's down to two kids and then pick the one kid that's popular now but will probably fade out of the spotlight in a year. (Anyone remember Fantasia? My point exactly.)
So Peter hears some creepy singing upstairs and finds Esther alone in a classroom painting. Despite the creepying singing, the stilted way she talks, and the fact she doesn't seem to be popular among the other kids, Peter and Mom picks her.
Esther arrives at home and Son is immedately ignored so he goes and looks at porno mags in his treehouse. Esther is a fast learner, able to pick up sign language and the piano within 20 minutes. Then the fucked up stuff starts happening.
First Esther pushes some snotty little girl that she don't like off a slide. Then when one of the nuns comes by to visit, Esther, who's making Deaf Girl tag along, not only make her crash her car but she kills her with a hammer. Esther threatens Deaf Girl so she don't tell. Then she threatens Bland Son not to tell either by threatening to cut his nuts off.
Soon, Mom realizes something's up with Esther but Peter spends the entire movie going "Nah, she's fine. You're the crazy one, drunk bitch who may or may not be the cause of Deaf Girl being deaf." Esther could probably kill someone in front of Peter and he'd be like "AWWW how precious!"
So Mom freaks out and starts investigating. Bland Son wants to help out by looking for the evidence Esther hid after killing the nun, but Esther soon sets the Treehouse of Porn on fire with Son locked inside it. He escapes by jumping out but he breaks some bones.
After Esther tries to kill Son in the hospital, Mom totally freaks out, beats the shit out of Esther and Peter checks Mom into the hospital to "calm down." Then the REAL messed up stuff happens.
Oh and this is a spoiler so if you wanna see this movie just stop reading here. I warned you.
Esther and Peter are at home alone and Esther dresses up like a slut and tries to seduce a drunk Peter, who almost falls for it but then stops before it's too late. Esther gets pissed and runs away. Mom gets a call in the hospital from some Russian doctor who tells her that Esther isn't a 9-year-old girl...but a 30-something midget!!
At this point in the movie, my fiancee turned to me and gave up on the movie. Honestly, I didn't see it coming but it did sorta ruin all the fucked up stuff that happened before that reveal. It was more messed up to think a kid was doing all of that, and making another kid do it along with her. But now knowing it was an adult doing it, makes it less weird, y'know?
So there's a big rush to get home to stop Esther, a cat-and-mouse game in a dark house, a couple of fight scenes, and some tense moments when you don't know who won the fight at the end. You gotta wonder though when the police did show up at the end, what they thought when they heard "I had to kill her, she was really a 30-year-old midget who killed everybody!!"
Three Things I Liked About This Movie:
1. The chick that played Esther was a good actress. She's a 12-year-old playing a 30-year-old playing a 9-year-old DISGUISED AS ANOTHER DUDE! (No wait scratch that dude part.)
2. How tense parts of the movie got.
3. How well Esther played Peter and Mom off of each other just simply being.
Thing Things I Didn't Like About This Movie:
1. The 30 minute build up. I could probably explain the booze, dead baby, and deaf kid in probably 10 minutes.
2. Casting Peter Saarsgaard in a role that doesn't require him to be weird and/or creepy. Really, it's just his voice. He talks like a calm serial killer.
3. The fact that Peter kept sticking up for Esther, despite the fact all this fucked up stuff didn't start happening until she showed up. How much evidence do you need, dude?
Overall, I do like this movie but I wouldn't watch it again. The twist at the end, which I did like, was maybe the coward's way out. It's like the film studio went and said "Well, we can't have a kid REALLY do all these things, including dressing up like a slut and trying to get it on with Peter. So let's say she's really an adult midget! YEAH!!" They might as well just say "Well, let's just say she's a werewolf. That makes sense. YEAH!"