Action / Horror / Mystery / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 59% · 163 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 63% · 250K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.0/10 10 254115 254.1K

Top cast

Vera Farmiga as Kate
Margo Martindale as Dr. Browning
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
750.43 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
Seeds 13
1.60 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 3 min
Seeds 43

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Xstal 7 / 10

It's a Hard Knock Life...

You've decided to adopt, now the pain's begun to stop, after traumas of the past, have resided at long last, like to increase two to three, making five in this family, there's an orphanage that has one, what could possibly go wrong. Esther makes a perfect fit, extremely charming: we shall commit; welcome her to our abode, open doors to a new road, but soon troubles bubbling, and events are troubling, as you sense there's something wrong, with this girl who's quite headstrong...

A perfectly executed escalating thriller, whose vice like grip will keep your hands upon the tiller, a few twists as you'd expect, there's no gruel I could detect, gets you thinking what you'd do, if these things happened to you.

Reviewed by christopher-underwood 7 / 10

I enjoyed much of this but there were a few silly moments

I enjoyed much of this but there were a few silly moments and I feel if the film had been cut down to 90 minutes we could have got rid of those embarrasing bits and made the whole ting tighter. The acting is fine, especially the two girls and that of Isabelle Fuhrman, who at times seems to be carrying the film, is remarkable. Inevitably, perhaps there are unfortunately those times, as in 'gas lighting' films where we sit frustrated urging those on screen to notice the obvious to no avail and then on we go as everything gets more and more embroiled.

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 6 / 10

Here Be Dragons

"Orphan" is sometimes regarded as a horror film, but in my view it is an example of that sub-genre of the thriller which I have come to regard as the "…… from Hell" movie, a type of film which enjoyed great popularity in the late eighties and early nineties following the success of "Fatal Attraction". The basic premise of such films is that the life of the protagonist is turned upside-down by the arrival of a stranger who initially seems friendly but who quickly turns out to be dangerous, generally a murderer or psychopath. In most films this stranger is an adult, but this film brings us the adopted-child-from-Hell. The expression "from Hell", incidentally, is not to be taken literally; "Orphan" might start out like an unacknowledged remake of "The Omen", but the child's evil is explained by a plot twist which has nothing to do with Satan or the supernatural.

Like a number of recent American films, this one was actually shot in Canada, presumably for financial reasons, but owing to the average American cinema-goer's lack of interest in anything that happens north of the forty-ninth parallel the film-makers were forced to pretend, through the use of Connecticut licence plates, that the action is taking place in New England.

After their third child is stillborn, John and Kate Coleman, adopt Esther a 9-year-old Russian girl, from the local orphanage. Unfortunately for them, Esther turns out to be a badly behaved little girl, one whose bad behaviour goes far beyond the normal bounds of childish mischief. By the time the film is over, she will have killed several people and attempted to kill several others.

The film has been criticised for a lack of realism, and it certainly seems strange that John and Kate are permitted to adopt a child in the first place, given their obviously unsuitable background. Kate is recovering from alcoholism, and we learn that she was at fault in an incident when her own daughter, Maxine, nearly drowned in the garden pond. It also seems strange how slow John is to accept that there is anything wrong with the behaviour of his adopted daughter; Kate grows suspicious at a much earlier stage. I was interested by the suggestion of another reviewer that John's reluctance could be explained by the fact that he is, at a subconscious level at least, sexually attracted to Esther, but idea this was, for obvious reasons, something the film-makers were unable to pursue. The idea that an otherwise respectable husband and father might harbour latent paedophile tendencies is something audiences would find extremely disturbing. The final twist (I won't say what it is) has also struck many as implausible, but at least it is a twist which, if one can accept it, helps to make sense of what has gone before. Too many films these days, especially thrillers, end in a surprise twist which makes everything which has preceded it seem like nonsense.

The film does have its good points. The 12-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman is excellent as Esther, in some ways wise beyond her years yet also strange, emotionless and creepy. Incidentally, most of the best villains in "….. from Hell" movies are female, such as Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction", Rebecca de Mornay in "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" or Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Single White Female". There are films of this type with male villains, ("Pacific Heights", "Bad Influence", "Domestic Disturbance") but they tend to be less memorable. Another good performance comes from another child-actress, eight-year-old Aryana Engineer as the deaf-mute Maxine; both girls, in fact, stand out more than any of the adults.

The film is also suitably atmospheric, being shot against a snowbound winter landscape, even if it does make it seem as though winter in Connecticut lasts all year. (At least it makes a change from all those films, "Housesitter" and The Cider House Rules" being recent examples, which suggest that the New England climate consists of twelve months of permanent autumn).

My own criticism of the film would be of some of the social attitudes revealed in it. The Cold War may be over, but there is still a tendency in America, and to some extent in Britain and Western Europe as well, to regard Eastern Europe with suspicion. Anywhere east of the former Iron Curtain is regarded as a strange, mysterious land whose inhabitants pose some vague threat to the West, whether by stealing our jobs, dragging us into their internecine tribal quarrels or by exporting their criminal elements to us. The film taps into these fears; it is significant that the menacing Esther claims to be Russian and is actually from Estonia, a part of the map which, as far as most Westerners are concerned, might still have "here be dragons" marked on it.

The film also taps into some of our anxieties about adoption, specifically middle-class fears that adopted children, especially if originally from working-class stock, are likely to be contaminated by "bad blood", or inherited criminal propensities. Even if they do not actually suffer from any such genetic taint, there is always a fear that such children will never be able to bond with their adopted parents in the same way as they would with their biological parents.

Overall "Orphan" is a reasonably well-made film, a tense and gripping, if occasionally implausible, thriller, with a couple of good acting performances. The prejudices it reveals, however, are worrying. 6/10

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