The movie opens with a dream sequence that gives us insight into a great tragedy in John and Kate's life (get the proverbial Jon & Kate jokes out now before I continue). Their third baby died in the womb- and while Kate seems to be harboring a darker secret inside- the couple agree to adopt their third child. While at the orphanage the couple meets Esther. A well spoken, authentic Russian gal with a talent for painting. John and Kate agree that Esther would be a terrific fit to their family of an already existing 10 year old-ish early douche bag and a cute deaf girl. It is not long before strange tragedies start to happen and the funny thing is that Esther is always around when they happen. Clearly as the movie's poster says, something is wrong with Esther.
So let's get what everyone is talking about out of the way. Did they pick the names John and Kate on purpose?! What? Oh right. wrong thing everyone is talking about. Esther IS the best part about this movie. Coming from someone who just watched The Omen, The Village of the Damned and The Children all in a matter of a week- I was genuinely terrified of Esther. I think it was a combination of her creepy Russian accent and her remarks about the son's hairless prick that really set me off but then again I'm not sure. No no it was definitely the hairless prick comment. Not to mention she likes to watch John and Kate have sex....in the kitchen! Sex in the kitchen is really only acceptable when you have children that are babies- god John and Kate what were you thinking? So by far Esther's performance is what makes this movie.
Now other than Esther, the movie has some pretty valid points. The dream sequence although a previous annoyance with me was actually pretty effective. The disgusting and bloody swaddled baby comes to mind, and the blood that seeps out when Kate is getting rolled away in the wheelchair. I also enjoyed the impact of Esther on Kate's psyche. The part where she chops all the roses off from the bush was jaw dropping and how Esther cleverly manipulated Kate's alcoholic past with everything that was going on--so evil! I also loved that first scene with the pigeon- it really served up Esther's cruelty and put it right into your face. Whoops I just realized all the valid points were about Esther! Damn this!
Something I definitely wasn't crazy about was the length of the film- running about 2 hours. 2 Hours for this kind of horror movie is way too long. The perfect length for a horror movie is an hour and 30 minutes- anything longer that isn't a Stanley Kubrick or an insanely artistic and provocative movie just drags on and starts churning out boringness. As a result I found the end of Orphan to be a bit formulaic. It soon almost turned into a joke- how many times will Esther rise from the dead?
Peter Sarsgaard and that other woman were ok, but sometimes I really can't stand P. Sarsgaard's twangy voice. I also loved the deaf girl. Those sign language sub titled scenes were surprisingly moving to me. And as much as I dig hysteria and things not going according to plan- all the Kate is an alcoholic with psychological problems geared towards Esther grew kind of tiring. Any Doctor that was convinced Kate could break Esther's arm that badly needs to get a new license. Speaking of which that arm breaking scene...holy mother of Christ.
Overall the movie provides an original take on the classic devil child story. Esther's performance alone is enough to warrant a viewing of this movie- but don't be surprised if your attention starts to wane at parts. Another very interesting thing I encountered was reading the trivia about the earlier drafts of the script- which in my opinion are far superior to the final draft of the script. SPOILER P. Sarsgaard's death for one was much more violent and amazing and creative., also the son is suppose to have died in the hospital, AND the final fight in the ice never happened and originally ended with Kate shooting Esther between the eyes with the final "you are not my daughter you bitch" (or however it went) line of the century. There's also an extensive history behind Esther's persona involving sexual abuse, incest and prostitution. All very interesting spins on the movie that probably could have made me like it more. Poor kid that played Esther though. I bet she's suffering from Linda Blair syndrome- surely if I saw her in public my first impulse would be to jump out a window or maybe to kill her- I guess it would all depend on my mood.
Other notable freak out scenes- the discovery of Esther's nudie black light paintings, her transformation, and her seduction scene(ahhh!) Where did she get black light paint anyways?