Vera Farmiga seems to have her hands full with child issues lately, and we’re not just talking her offscreen brand new baby boy. Or assorted parental aggravation while facing off against her deviant kid in Joshua: The Devil’s Child, and Nazi offspring in The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. For someone who would seem to have had her share of hard knocks maternal experience in movies, nothing could have probably prepared Farmiga for her latest mom in crisis misadventure, in the domestic chiller, Orphan.
Directed by Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (House Of Wax) and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Orphan is an adoption from hell terror spree starring Farmiga as Kate, a depressed, recovering alcoholic mother of two who has just experienced a devastating stillbirth. Kate and devoted spouse John (Peter Sarsgaard) seek emotional healing by looking into a child to adopt from a local orphanage.
There Kate is instantly drawn to impeccably well mannered and suspiciously precocious nine year old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), an Eastern European immigrant orphan of mysterious origins and a too-good-to-be-true seemingly perfect child. But beyond Esther’s cheery artificial facade and magnanimous curtsies, trouble looms. Including fomented sibling rivalries, excessively doting on dad, stalking Kate and John in the middle of impromptu kitchen sex and, well, a tendency to bludgeon living things.
But a little applied background snooping isn’t the formidable ordeal it used to be for amateur sleuths back in Hitchcock’s day, with just a Google click away into this problem child’s murky family tree. And audience tensions abound throughout, with momentum stuck in neutral only towards the freaky finish line, when the police, as is all too common convention in these horror thrillers, have a problem showing up to sort out multiple dangers, for what seems like just about forever.
Orphan: Nerve-shredding creepy kid home invasion alert, and takeout tween foundling traumas galore.
3 1/2 stars