Esther is back in a long awaited prequel that reminds us of a horror period from a long time ago…..
No fan in horror asked for a sequel to Jaume Collet-Serra’s 2009 entry ORPHAN, a horror/thriller that for the most part was a decent watch thanks to the standout performances from Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga whose characters John and Kate decided to adopt a nine-year-old girl called Esther played equally impressive by the very young Isabelle Fuhrman.
The film was offering a blueprint seen many times before as we all knew that there was something wrong with Esther, until it wonderfully pulled out a barn storming stunner of a twist at the finale, which raised the film to virtually a cult status among the modern genre fans.
Now, we can’t review this prequel without mentioning that twist, so if you haven’t seen the original, then stop reading and come back hopefully having been blown away like a long percent of those first time watchers.
Entering SPOILER ALERT NOW!
Having shown menace and murder through out, the reveal that Esther was not a kid all set to hit ten years of age but a 33-year-old Estonian psycho who loves her new found Daddy a bit too much and wants the rest of the family out of the way, meant the film achieved a rare much appreciated finale that has helped the film gain much popularity over the years and now an amazing 13 years later, Fuhrman is back in a prequel which cries out “do we really need this film in our lives?” The simple answer is “not really” But having just watched, I am more than happy that it has arrived.
Knowing that they can’t do the same thing twice, now that the twist is out there, director William Brent Bell and writer David Coggeshall decide to go in the other direction of slasher camp that dips its horror heart right into the glorious days of the early 90’s where the genre was awash of psycho of the month entries be it a police officer (Unlawful Entry) a nanny (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle) to a jilted mistress (Fatal Attraction) – watch out for a sort of bunny boiler moment in this flick and we also had cheap sequels to some, most notably The Stepfather 2, a film that Orphan: First Kill reminded me so much of.
For many, Terry O’Quinn will always be LOST’s John Locke, but in my eyes he is Jerry Blake, a murderous guy who by the time the sequel hits, he escapes from a Mental Asylum having killed a few on his way and makes his way into a new town and eventually straight into the arms of an unsuspected new family.
For the opening half, this follows suit. Esther escapes but unlike the original in which she awaits to get adopted, she decides to become Esther Albright, an American girl from a wealthy family who disappeared four years ago at the age of six.
With the police informing the family that they have found their daughter, the parents Allen Albright (Rossif Sutherland) and mother Tricia (Julia Stiles) bring her back to America, convinced that they have their little girl back, even if Esther’s brother Gunner (Matthew Finlan) is a little more reserved and for the most part, the prequel is following the standard of its original story but its still an entertaining watch thanks to Fuhrman who once more excels in the main role.
Yes! she does not look like a nine year old, no matter how much clever editing and body doubling you can do will disguise that, but if you embrace the craziness on show then you’ll no doubt be on board especially as you should be thinking, “do I really care now that the infamous twist is out there?”
So what is the point in watching if we are just getting a retread with no sucker punch to entice us? Hold on to your horror hearts as FIRST KILL contains a doozy of a reveal that will floor many of you. No spoilers here, but its a worthy excuse for this prequel’s existence and with both Fuhrman and Stiles clearly having fun as they bounce off each other with gleeful energy, you’ll soon start to realize just how much fun you are having, watching the carnage unfold.
This is not fine art by any means and is so far removed from the likes of Hereditary and the rest that some modern fans will be switching off just as Esther is getting into the groove of killing again, but with its camp direction and unintentional laughs, ORPHAN: First Kill much like its predecessor is no masterpiece but has solid performances, some cool kills and a “pull from right under you” reveal, which just generates a really good time.
A sequel dipped in 90’s nostalgia, what’s not to like?