When Orphan came out in 2009, I instantly loved it. The ridiculous story of a 34 year old with dwarfism convincing everyone around her that she was a child was made believable by brilliant performances by the entire cast and some great screenwriting. The film took itself seriously enough that I took it seriously too. How could they possibly top this?
In Orphan: First Kill, the filmmakers took the familiar character of Esther, played again by the brilliant Isabelle Fuhrman, and went back in time to when she escapes an Estonian mental hospital and finds her way to America by impersonating a missing child. But it isn’t Fuhrman’s performance that brought me into the narrative this time. That honor went to Julia Stiles.
The story does a 180 when Esther realizes she has met her match with her new mother (Stiles). The family she tries to manipulate ends up manipulating her in a plot twist I didn’t see coming. Stiles is brilliant in ways I didn’t think possible. She won me over with this.
This incantation of Esther’s story knows exactly what it is, and owns every second of it. While the first film used suspension of disbelief in subtle ways, this new film throws it all at you like it doesn’t even care if you believe the story or not. And it’s all the better fit it.
Orphan: First Kill deserves a viewing in the theater but it’s also streaming on Paramount+ if that’s you jam.