The Orphan: First Murder
Oct 17, 2022
In a significant sequence of The Orphan: First Murder, we hear the song "Maniac," a Michael Sembello disco tune that was heard on Adrian Lyne's Flashdance (1983). It makes all the sense in the world that William Brent Bell brings him back in this prequel to The Orphan (2009). Not surprisingly, the theme in question was inspired by a sleazy 1980 slasher, Maniac, by William Lustig, starring a serial killer brought to life by Joe Spinell.
In Maniac and other similar films, low budget and custom gave way to a peculiar aesthetic. In pursuit of gritty realism, these films were often characterized by slightly hazy, dark, and grainy photography, giving us the impression of looking at a 16mm report. Quite rightly, or perhaps making a virtue of necessity, The Orphan: First Murder recovers that atmosphere, which the modern viewer can confuse with what we generically call "television format", but which veterans will associate with continuous session cinemas and video stores.
The protagonist of The Orphan, that girl who is actually an adult murderer, returns in this film played by the same actress, Isabelle Fuhrman. Her impeccable acting work, added to the intelligence of the script, makes the public have a great time despite the humility of the proposal.
The Orphan: First Murder is an ingenious film full of black humor, which twists the original premise and achieves something difficult at this point: surprising the viewer.
The film places us several years before what happened in the 2009 film. Little Esther (Fuhrman) is one of the most dangerous psychopaths in a hospital in Estonia. She appears to be nine years old but is actually thirty and addicted to homicide. The worst of all is that she does not accept the confinement and manages to escape. Shortly after, this con artist and criminal infiltrate an American family with whom she will play cat and mouse, in a somewhat unpredictable way, throughout the entire footage.
Blood, malice, and lurid twists. There is all of this in this film that, without giving it the slightest importance, manages to get the stalls back to the pleasure of seeing a suggestive and fun horror story. Would it have been better in the hands of a more ambitious director? Probably yes, but even in this simplicity, it reminds me of most 80s slashers.
I leave for the end the other element that animates the function. I am referring to Esther's mother, Tricia Albright (Julia Stiles), a well-written character, who excellently acted and was decisive in the life of the protagonist.
Lena (Isabelle Fuhrman) manages to escape from the Russian psychiatric hospital where 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 expected, and she will face a mother who will protect her family at any cost.
A prequel to the horror film The Orphan (2009), told the story of a couple who, after losing their baby, adopt a 9-year-old girl who is not as innocent as she claims to be. The film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starred Vera Farmiga, Isabelle Fuhrman, and Peter Sarsgaard.
This time William Brent Bell (The Boy: The Brahms Curse, Stay Alive) goes behind the scenes to direct Julia Stiles (The Prophecy, Wall Street Swindlers) and Isabelle Fuhrman (The Orphan, The Hunger Games), who repeats in the role of Esther.
See you tomorrow!
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