Review by Jack Foley
RENEE Zellweger’s Case 39 bears ominous similarities to last year’s Orphan – but is a much less satisfying chiller that has unsurprisingly been sitting on the shelf for some time.
Filmed in 2006, the film actually marked the Hollywood debut of acclaimed German Antibodies director Christian Alvart, who has since gone on to make sci-fi thriller Pandorum.
But it’s easy to see why its distributor lacked confidence in it as Case 39 emerges as a laughably bad demon child movie that features a number of mis-cast actors in forgettable roles.
Zellweger stars as social worker Emily Jenkins who, after saving 10-year-old Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) from being cooked alive in her parents’ oven, offers the girl a home.
But when people around her mysteriously start dying, Emily begins to wonder if the problem lies with Lilith.
Alvart’s film obviously borrows from the likes of The Omen but lacks the intelligence or shock value of either that or the more recent Orphan.
Rather, its shocks feel tacky and exploitative (even though some do make you jump) and its script is laughably banal.
Ian McShane, who plays a sceptical sheriff, sums that up best when he saves Lilith from the oven and promptly asks his deranged parents: “What’s wrong with you people?” Quite a lot, we’d say!
Worse still are the random deaths that befall several of the characters, with Bradley Cooper’s love interest the hapless victim of a swarm of hornets in his own bathroom.
Admittedly, there is a guilty pleasure in seeing just how ludicrous and overblown things get – but Alvart isn’t playing for laughs and genuinely wants to scare the living daylights out of us.
In doing so, he forgets to provide us with anyone worth caring about, as even Zellweger’s kindly social worker is prone to stupid decision making, such as repeatedly locking herself in her bedroom to get away from the demonic presence that always still finds a way in.
Case 39 is therefore a supernatural chiller that’s best left closed.
Running time: 109mins
UK DVD Release: September 6, 2010