Disclaimer: If you read this review; you will be actively spoiling the original Orphan film. This movie plays off the major plot twist of the first movie, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please watch the first film. If you don’t care, then read on.
Our story opens with a psychiatric hospital where we find the titular character Leena Klammer (Esther), played by the original actor Isabelle Fuhrman. The institution is well informed of her rare physical condition and is aware how dangerous she can be. Leena, as we know from the original movie, is very capable of taking care of herself. Even at an earlier age, she proves this by breaking out of the psychiatric asylum and conning her way into an art therapist’s home. It's there where we find a striking resemblance to a young girl named Esther who disappeared. Leena uses this to her advantage and heads to the police station where she can con herself into America under the guise of this ‘Esther’ child and back into the home of Esther’s grieving parents. The story starts off simple, but the execution wasn’t completely there for me.
The real Esther’s mother, Tricia Albright (Julia Styles), arrives in Estonia to take her back to America, mostly thankful that she is alive and well, after being missing for an unspecified number of years. It's there where we meet the other members of the family, Esther’s dad Allen (Rossif Sutherland) and her older brother Gunnar (Matthew Finlan). At this point, the movie is quite like the first film and Leena begins to try and manipulate the family to her bidding, before enacting nefarious deeds of her own. The film drags in this first half because it treads a similar ground that the first one did. Leena makes her way to a family, falls for the father and disregards the rest of the family. It’s the second half of the film that really shines for me and unfortunately it would be a major spoiler if I were to go deeper than that.
To be honest, I wasn’t feeling the film in the first half. The film appeared as if it was going by the numbers to follow the same path the first film did. I was halfway asleep by the start of the second half, but then a fun little twist happened. From that point on; I was pretty invested until the end. The film makes some interesting choices and really causes Leena to act on her feet to survive the predicament that she got herself into. Although it may not be original in its storytelling, the actors do manage to keep the interest of the viewer even during the most mundane situations. The film illustrates how skeptical the people around Leena become as she navigates her way around this new country and by the second half, we are introduced to a threat that is potentially worse than her own. The movie did falter in some of the way the cinematography plays, leaving an almost uncanny valley type of viewpoint, especially since the original actor is made to look like she is around 9 or 10 years old, but they try to detract from that with smart camera angles and movie magic.
The cinematography wasn’t completely perfect. There is a specific scene where Leena is shown driving a car and it completely looks like an unfinished video game. Additionally, the last act has a decent downgrade in quality as well, which is unfortunate. Admittedly, Orphan: First Kill has some interesting moments, especially in the last half, but a forgettable story, nonetheless. They made some good use of the camera magic making Esther look young again, but it also had some unwanted uncanny valley type emotions. If you have Paramount+, then I would say jump in. If you don’t, then you can pass on this film.
Review By: Dimitreus Newell