‘A mother protects her family, no matter what’, says Julia Stiles who stars alongside Isabelle Fuhrman in this shockingly amazing prequel to 2009’s Orphan.
Orphan followed married couple Kate and John, who adopt a 10-year-old Estonian girl named Esther. After mysterious things start happening in and around their family, it is eventually learned by the couple that their adopted daughter is actually a 33-year-old named Leena Klammer, who escaped a mental facility and has been posing as a little girl to evade capture.
Orphan: First Kill, the prequel, picks up long before the events of Orphan and explores how Leena was able to escape the Saarne Institute in Estonia and pose as a missing girl named Esther Albright from the United States so that she could flee authority. Starring alongside Fuhrman is Julia Stiles as matriarch Tricia Albright – a philanthropist who cares more about appearances than anything else. Rosif Sutherland plays father Allan – a wealthy artist who had lost his touch since the disappearance of his daughter, and Matthew Finlan as son Gunnar – your typical entitled rich kid who is profusely shielded by his mother from any hard work and responsibility.
As sad as it is to say, Sutherland and Finlan’s characters are easily forgettable, but it is Julia Stiles who absolutely shines in this film. An actress who only takes on roles that she truly wants to perform in, and this shows as she kills it alongside Fuhrman as the two play a mother who wants to protect her family, and a daughter con-woman who pines after Stiles’ husband, pitted against each other.
What concerned me going into this film was how they would capture the essence of the first. Leena’s secret is out and everyone knows what it is going into this film. But writer David Coggeshall shocks the audience with a plot twist on par with the original that almost has you on side with Leena, who becomes somewhat of an anti-hero of the film, despite all the evil acts you know she is set to commit down the road when the events of the first film pick up.
Speaking of, it’s admirable how Fuhrman easily steps back into the role. A role she initially played at nine years old and coming back nearly fourteen years later. The absence of CGI and the use of clever makeup and camera techniques to make Fuhrman look ten again — for example some impressive tracking shots that seamlessly swap between Fuhrman and her two child body doubles, make this film quite unforgettable.
In the age where almost every film gets a reboot, remake, prequel, or sequel, Orphan: First Kill is one that all horror fans were waiting for, and it doesn’t fail to deliver a masterpiece that is on par with, if not better than, the original.
Written by Daniel Viglietti
Header image courtesy Paramount