Orphan: First Kill it would be impossible to refer to both this film and its predecessor without revealing details of its resolutions or twists in the plots, so any reader who considers the element of surprise in cinema should stop reading, watch the film, and if they wish, they can then return to this note. In any case, we will never be able to explain why there are readers of movie reviews that they did not see, that will remain a mystery.
Orphan: First Kill in every plot twist there is always a tension between points of view. They give us data that complete a map of knowledge, that is, we reach a point in the film where information is revealed to us about something that actually happened but that we did not see because we were located in a different point of view.
In the Orphan films, both the first by Jaume Collet-Serra and this prequel by William Brent Bell, all of these perspectives are anchored in the character of Esther, in what we know or don't know about her, in our distance from her actions and even in our possible identification, but in turn, in these particular cases, the figure of the actress Isabelle Fuhrman, who shapes her body according to each need, is still important.
We enter Orphan: First Kill already knowing the ending of Orphan: Esther is actually an older woman in her thirties, evil and manipulative in a girl's costume. It is a somewhat crazy resolution but it is consistent with much of what is seen before.
In addition, Fuhrman, a teenager at the time, had to abide by this resolution by putting himself in the shoes of a much older woman. It makes sense that it happens more than a decade after Furhman herself, really adult, makes us part of the perverse customization that her character does. During the first half we share everything with Esther, her plans and her decisions.
The setback that Bell's film produces with respect to the previous one ends up being totally consistent, not only adapting to a new construction of the system of expectations around Fuhrman's body, but also understanding that there will inevitably be a part of the viewer who will seek identification with this villain turned into a protagonist. Something similar happens with Don't Breathe 2 and the villain played by Stephen Lang.
It is easy for us to go hand in hand with Esther in this new installment and perhaps it is due to one of the achievements of Collet-Serra's film. Esther's victims are not necessarily innocent, they also carry their own ghosts, being part of a deliberately bourgeois characterization and in a family model that is visually complete but prone to being broken. But Bell's proposal can afford to be more incisive.
It is no longer about a mother who will have to reconcile with a previous failure (and for that she will even symbolically kill her lost daughter), but about a mother who will take control of each problem becoming a true murderer. We can then make a kind of moral balance and Esther would stop being, halfway through the footage, the most evil character.
At the beginning of 2020, the start of production on Esther was announced, a film that would reveal several of the secrets of the mysterious character we met in La huérfana (Orphan, 2009). The surprise and emotion of the fans was noted through social networks. Although the film did not receive the best reviews from the specialized press at the time, the story remains in the retina of each viewer who immerses himself in this tiny hell in winter. Under the name of The Orphan: The Origin (Orphan: First Kill, 2022), this prequel has already come to light and the sensations are as strange as they are uncomfortable.
One of the great successes that The Orphan had was the inclusion of an actress barely twelve years old to play the villain of the story. At that age, she personified an apparent nine-year-old United States girl who was actually a thirty-three-year-old mature woman with growth problems. That discovery, which occurs at the entrance to the last stage of the film, was a shock that worked like a well thought out twist. Taking advantage of the complexity of the character, and knowing how much can be explored, the new story goes back to 2007 in Estonia to tell us the events prior to the 2009 feature film.
One of the most interesting points of The Orphan: the origin is that Isabelle Fuhrman returns to embody Esther. This is striking and risky: the actress is now twenty-five years old and returns in the skin of an infanta. The result is not encouraging at all. The passage of time is noticeable and the interpretation of the apparent girl is very forced due to the physical growth of the actress. Although this may be an incentive for the general public, it reveals very noticeable shortcomings as the scenes unfold.
The film presents different editing and continuity problems. Its director, William Brent Bell (The Boy), plays with fire. Close-up shots of Esther have Fuhrman herself at the center. On the other hand, when opening them, the protagonist is almost always shown with her back to the action being played (and here she is) by a little girl. This brings with it unconnected, bizarre and delirious scenes. For example, without preamble, we will see Esther driving a car to the rhythm of the musical theme "Maniac" and smoking a cigarette. A wink to the viewers that is cut off abruptly, without meaning, making us think that the course does not have to be that way.
Taking these factors into account, and knowing that Fuhrman's height is 1.61 meters, the choice of the cast is also an issue to pay attention to. Rossif Sutherland (Possesor), Kiefer's half-brother, was chosen for the father. Her height of him? 1.96 meters. This decision explains in terms of the context and positioning of the interpreters on stage, where the father-daughter bond is one of the condiments that seeks to generate the most attraction. As for the role of the mother, Julia Stiles (Mona Lisa smile) was chosen and, although she is correct, her character is so confused that she baffles and repels us.
The orphan was awkward. Impossible not to be shocking that a girl (although we know that the character is an adult) decides to seduce her father. However, this film was not grotesque or bizarre. Through subtlety, without telling us much, he managed to build an unbeatable story that is valued even more after the passage of time.
Years later, this prequel seeks to expand the character, but its result is not entirely satisfactory. His reckless start, his abrupt way of narrating events and poor technical decisions form a negative combo.
The orphan: the origin (Orphan: First Kill, United States / 2022). Director: William Brent Bell. Screenplay: David Coggeshall, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Alex Mace. Music: Brett Detar. Photography: Karim Hussain. Editing: Josh Ethier. Cast: Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, Hiro Kanagawa, Matthew Finlan, Samantha Walkes. Duration: 98 minutes. Rating: Suitable for ages 16 and up. Distributor: Diamond Films. Our opinion: so-so.
In 2009, La huérfana surprised with a well-run story, with an unexpected final twist and skilful construction of suspense, which left a good taste in the mouths of the few who saw it at the time. With fewer aspirations, less imagination and more problems comes the continuation, dressed in an unbelievable prequel.
The action of The Orphan: The Origin takes place three years before the original, revealing a little more about Esther's story (again Isabelle Fuhrman), her mental problems and her propensity to go through life murdering people. After this introduction -which takes almost a third of the film-, the girl is adopted by a new family and the plot wanders aimlessly along the same tracks as its predecessor except, yes, for a twist averaging the footage which will be practically the only surprise of the film.
There are inconsistencies in relation to the story that was told in the first film, an unsuccessful effort to make Fuhrman (now 25 years old) look like a 10-year-old girl thanks to special effects, body doubles and conveniently cropped frames, and a series of of situations impossible to be taken seriously even by the most indulgent audience.
For that undemanding viewer, who believes that watching a horror movie is an ideal plan for a playful outing with friends, it may be an option. If, on the other hand, what you are looking for is a proposal that touches some distressing fiber, as happened with the first installment that is magnified in light of this premiere, it is better to continue long.
Just a few months ago I wrote about the most recent installment of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and mentioned how we are in the midst of a renaissance of murderers in the cinema, which seemed to have already been left behind along with the 2000s.
We saw Michael Myers return, Ghostface, Leatherface, there is talk of the return of Jason Vorhees and there are also rumors that Jason Blum wants to bring back Freddy Krueger, but I think I speak for everyone here when I say that nobody expected the return of a character like Esther.
Not only because its impact on culture was much less than that of those already mentioned above, but because the conditions were not favorable at all, nor did they allow a later project to be possible. Starting from the fact that the first installment, Orphan (2009), concluded with the death of the character and adding to that the fact that the actress who gave life to the murderous "girl", Isabelle Furhman, is no longer a girl at all.
However, the magic of the cinema (and her desire to make money, of course) made it possible, against all odds, for the character to return to the big screen in 2022.
The project was given the green light in 2020 and it was announced that it would be a prequel with William Brent Bell in charge of the project, which did not give much hope since Brent Bell seems to me one of the worst horror directors of the last 20 years, with one of the worst catalogs within the genre: The Devil Inside, The Boy, The Boy II and Separation. That is why today I write with surprise that Orphan: First Kill has seemed like a good movie and a worthy piece that is added to the universe that Jaume Collet-Serra started 13 years ago.
The film begins in January 2007 with the escape of Leena Klammer from the Saarne Institute in Estonia who, after leaving behind a couple of bodies in her flight, steals the identity of Esther Albright, a girl from Darien, Connecticut who has been missing since 2003.
Having passed this stretch of the story, which seems to me to be the weakest part of the body of the film, Esther settles down with her new family in what until then she had painted to be a repetition of the structure and dynamics of the first film, where Esther tried to corrupt the nucleus of her family, taking advantage of their vulnerability and hope after having recovered what was lost.
However, and this is where I find the film's greatest success, the writers put Esther on the ropes with a small twist, making her fall into an unexpected and violent dynamic against her mother, which revitalizes the drama and suspense of the film, even making Esther look at a disadvantage for a while and looking like the victim of the story, although the prequel condition of the film warns us of the predictable and inevitable ending.
It is true that Orphan: First Kill risks little or nothing, both narratively and visually, but in this case it seems right to me. Brent Bell refers to materializing on the screen information previously provided in the first film, but which reinforces the internal logic of the cinematographic universe that these two films pose.
There are moments in which it seems that the film wants to address social issues around discrimination and xenophobia, mainly in the moments that involve the character of the brother, Gunnar, such as when he calls Esther a "weird immigrant", or when he affirms that "people like me matter", but fortunately he never delves into them, since that would have put them in a swamp from which I don't think they could get out without giving others grief.
13 years ago, “The Orphan” was released in theaters, which did not charm critics for its somewhat generic execution, but whose memorable twist won enough fans to justify a prequel. “La Huérfana: El Origen” (“Orphan: First Kill”), by director William Brent Bell, not only brings us a work that lives up to the original, but even surpasses it and stands on its own merit.
After escaping from a psychiatric hospital in Estonia, Leena (Isabelle Fuhrman), a 30-year-old woman with a strange condition that makes her look like a girl, steals the identity of Esther, the missing daughter of a family, who takes her in with the open arms. Although her father (Rossif Sutherland) seems overjoyed to have her back, her wife Tricia (Julia Stiles) seems unconvinced of her, and she will do anything to protect the family from her.
Like “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and “Annabelle: Creation,” this prequel improves on several aspects of its predecessor while introducing new and interesting elements to an origin story we think we know. Since the audience already knows the secret of our protagonist, the script can move more freely to build a more solid story. While the allure of “The Orphan” lay in the sinister twist that Esther was actually a psychopath with an obsession for her father, here we can follow her and see firsthand her manipulative tactics and ruthless personality.
Much of the success is due to a brilliant twist by screenwriter David Coggeshall, playing on audience expectations of the previous film and turning them on their head to deliver a series of unpredictable and very clever surprises. In a satisfyingly twisted way, one ends up empathizing with Esther: she's no less a cold-blooded killer, but the situations in which she puts them in Coggeshall make us almost want her to come out on top.
This is also due to the great work of Isabelle Fuhrman (“The Novice”), who maintains the essence of her iconic character while adding layers of personality that make us understand her and her motivations. While the 2009 movie treated her as a cruel, home-wrecking villain, here she is given moments to show some humanity.
Added to this, there is the challenge of playing Esther not only as an adult woman, but one who pretends to be a girl: although more than a decade has passed, the actress is able to convince us through her voice, gestures and a very beautiful face. sweet at the right times. In “La huérfana” her ability to act convincingly as a 30-year-old woman when she was just a girl was applauded, and here she achieves the opposite with the same skill.
Julia Stiles fully joins the exaggerated and chaotic tone of "The Orphan: The Origin" to play Tricia, who far from being the mother in danger becomes a worthy opponent for Esther. Her rivalry gives our protagonist an antagonistic force and places us in an interesting dilemma. This is a great prequel because she never turns her villain into an antihero but she does make us step into her shoes, which is very difficult to do.
William Brent Bell gives us without a doubt his best work to date. After the terrible “The Devil Inside” and “Brahms: The Boy II”, and the disappointing “The Boy” (all with terrible endings), the director finally presents us with a piece in which his exaggerated and melodramatic tone fits perfectly. to the history. He deftly navigates the plot's twists and turns and keeps the suspense throughout: just when you think the movie is heading down a predictable path, he slaps you in the face and heads off in another direction.
In addition to drawing good performances from his cast, he applauds himself for his decision to use practical effects to turn Fuhrman into a girl. Very old school, various camera tricks were used to play with perspective and make the actress look small. Her costumes were tailored to give her a childlike appearance, and body doubles were used for the parts where her face is not seen. The cast even wore gigantic platform shoes to make up for the height difference. Although if one watches both films in a row one can tell a little that Fuhrman is no longer a girl, the result is still great and is free of distracting and unconvincing computer rejuvenation effects.
Although "The Orphan: The Origin" has some inconsistencies with respect to the original story (like all these prequels) and feels extremely rushed, especially in the third act, it is difficult to blame it when it is so entertaining. This movie shows us that reviving a franchise doesn't have to result in a lifeless piece whose only goal is to make money, but that it can be an opportunity to improve on the past and give us a good job that respects its audience.
William Brent Bell, responsible for "The Devil Inside", "The Boy" and "Brahms: The Boy II", is now the one who inherits the direction from Jaume Collet Serra in this now franchise.
As expected, the film leaves aside the horror component, to focus much more on a thriller. His story, despite the fact that at times it feels like a mirror of the first film, has a surprising twist, which is what is purposeful and authentic about the film.
Despite not having a high budget, the production does an outstanding job, mainly in visually recreating Fuhrman as a 12-year-old girl (the age the actress was in the first film).
On this occasion Fuhrman, who once again completely loads the film in the acting category, is accompanied by the outstanding participation of Julia Stiles in the role of Tricia (Esther's mother); being basically the highlight of the film, since due to the very nature of the production, they are the two characters with the longest frame time.
For the music, Brent Bell again enlists the help of Brett Detar, who collaborated with him on both "The Boy" movies, "Devil Inside," as well as "Wer" and "Separation." The work is enough, helping the setting, but being far from being something to be remembered or that can stand out on its own.
Although it could feel unnecessary or worse, “unwanted”, “Orphan First Kill” serves more as a justification for many things that were left up in the air from the first film, and that dares to be original and unexpected instead of being a complacent tape for the very burnt slasher genre.
What is it about? Lena manages to escape from the United States psychiatric hospital in which she is confined and travels to the United States, posing as the missing daughter of a wealthy family. But her new life as Esther will not be as she expected, and she will face a mother who will protect her family at any cost.
In 2009, Orphan hit theaters and quickly won over audiences searching for a Ring heiress. What few expected was that more than a decade later Orphan: First Kill would be released, a prequel explaining how Esther Coleman came to the United States and what happened to the family that brought her from US.
Bringing back the mystery of the original is impossible: this new story needs to start from the basis that all viewers know that Esther, or rather Leena Klammer, is an adult woman who has a condition that makes her look like a child. But one of the biggest flaws in this film is that it doesn't completely trust the viewer and falls into over-explanation on more than one occasion, something that is counterproductive and makes the final product feel much longer than it really is. it is.
Where Orphan: First Kill does benefit is in the rapid change in weather, while the first feels entirely like a typical horror film of its time, this new installment, directed by William Brent Bell, surprises by transforming into a black comedy who is not afraid to put his protagonist in a completely unknown and unpredictable place.
Although the viewer never loses sight of the fact that Leena, or Esther, the identity she adopts to arrive in the United States, is clearly the villain, her level of evil seems relative when meeting truly terrifying characters in this new story.
After escaping from the psychiatric institution in which she was locked up, Leena decides to pass herself off as an American girl who disappeared years ago with whom she bears a great physical resemblance. Many questions are raised here that the film never answers, such as how a girl is repatriated without first verifying her identity, but the story does everything possible so that viewers never ask themselves that question, and although it fails in this, later it is understood that it is not something very relevant to the plot.
The new life of Leena, now Esther, seems idyllic, but her new family belongs to the American lineage, the mother in fact boasts that her ancestors arrived in the American territory on the Mayflower, making it clear that «they matter." Leena quickly discovers that everything that seems ideal about her new situation is far from it.
But the most interesting thing about this prequel is how she manages to keep the mystery about the ending, since it is known from the first installment that that family died in a fire and they suspect that she was the one who caused it. Even knowing this, the film manages to deviate from the traditional path and surprises with a film that turns from horror into a black comedy in which one cannot help but feel sorry for this "orphan" and hope that she can escape from such a situation.
But no matter how good an actress Isabelle Fuhrman is, her interpretation of the protagonist is affected by the clear passage of time and how unbelievable it is that they have convinced themselves that this woman, obviously with an adult face, is a 9-year-old girl. years. If it is possible to overcome this, that half an hour into the film she already forgets, she enjoys herself completely. To this is added a great performance by the always great Julia Stiles, although there is no doubt that the best in front of the camera are the two of them.
Orphan: First Kill fulfills its objective: it entertains and gives a twist to a well-known story, but the reflections that terror sometimes offers to talk about society, you have to look for them elsewhere, because they won't go away.
More than a decade after the premiere of La Orfana, the prequel to what has now become a saga finally hits theaters. Entitled Orphan: First Kill –La huérfana: El origin, in Spanish- it tells the story of how Esther became what was originally known in the initial story.
The film will have its premiere in theaters in Chile on September 22 and will recount the events after the protagonist escapes from a psychiatric clinic in Estonia. She thus travels to the United States and poses as Esther, the missing daughter of a wealthy family.
This new installment promises to leave viewers in shock and ensures an unexpected twist that would amaze the audience, as described in its advertising. However, there are several doubts raised by those who saw La Huérfana in 2009, both in terms of production and history.
Sabelle Fuhrman, who played Esther in 2009, is the same actress who will do so nearly 13 years later. She, already 25 years old, will give life to her character, a woman in her thirties who suffers from dwarfism and looks like a girl despite her age.
"Isabelle acted very well in the first film, in a unique way," notes William Brent Bell, who has directed both productions. “She stood out and created such a believable character that we couldn't see any other way to make the movie without her coming back. It would have been an injustice for the film”, he stated.
Fuhrman, who was just 12 years old at the first release, was excited by the idea of returning. "Brent really supported me to be in the movie and I thanked him because I was really intrigued if they were going to make her look like a girl and how this would work," she said.
One of the benefits of having the same actress play the role was that this time she was an adult playing an adult, even though Esther sometimes looks like a child. “We know her secret from the beginning of the movie, which makes it that much more interesting,” added Bell.
Alex Mace, who created the story, says that one advantage was that the actress looks younger than her real age, so it wasn't difficult to adapt her. “Her face of hers is similar to the one she had when she was ten years old. This does not happen to many people, ”he assured.
To achieve a youthful effect, they also had to use makeup and create special visual effects. Among them they focused on the costumes and some camera effects at the time of shooting and CGI for the body.
The work was reduced to complementing some of his features with techniques that Doug Morrow, head of the Department of Makeup and Special Effects Created with Makeup, classified as “old”.
“One of the hardest things to do in makeup is to make someone look younger, particularly now that everything is visible with digital technology. Because of that, it can be a big challenge,” he explained.
Although he points out that there were some simpler things. "She has great skin, eyebrows, eyelashes and features, so it was more about emphasizing what she already has, which was very easy," he said.
Fuhrman, for her part, admits that her character's first makeup test scared her. “She was pretty amazing to see how she looked herself and how it all came together,” she describes. "I think the biggest change was actually my eyes," she said.
“In the first movie, when I was a kid at the end of the movie, I had contacts put in to make the iris smaller, because when you get older, the whites of your eyes stand out more. That's why for this movie, I wear contact lenses to make the iris bigger. I had fun wearing them because my eyes looked bigger and they radically changed my age,” she concluded.