Richard appears on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week he has a look at the new Idris Elba thriller “Beast,” the campy horror of “Orphan: First Kill” and Jamie Foxx, vampire slayer, in “Day Shift.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to buy a train ticket! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the man vs. nature thriller “Beast,” the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Carmen.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the Idris Elba vs. angry lion thriller “Beast,” the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Sharp Stick.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Idris Elba vs. angry lion thriller “Beast,” “Sharp Stick,” the latest from Lena Dunham, the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Carmen.”
I join NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the man vs. nature thriller “Beast,” the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Carmen.”
Thirteen years after creepy kid Esther was revealed to be a grown woman in the original thriller “Orphan,” she’s back in a prequel that sets up the events of the first film. Isabelle Fuhrman returns to play the crazed-killer orphan of the title, a thirty-something woman afflicted with a hormone disorder that stunted her physical growth. “She never grew older,” says her doctor, “at least on the outside.”
The action in “Orphan: First Kill,” begins at the Saarne Institute, an Estonian psychiatric hospital, home to a dangerous killer named Leena (Fuhrman). “Leena may look like a child but she is a grown woman.”
One murderous rampage later, she escapes, and, after some quick on-line research, finds a missing kid she resembles. Using the name Esther, she makes her way to Connecticut, and poses as the long-lost daughter of Allen (Rossif Sutherland) and Tricia Albright’s (Julia Stiles). She rocks a Wednesday Addams kind look, wearing old-fashioned ribbons in her hair to disguise the scars from the electric shock treatment at the hospital, and says she picked up her heavy accent after being kidnapped and taken to Russia.
Greeted warmly by Allen and Tricia, son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) isn’t as overjoyed. “She has an accent now and dresses like Lizzie Borden,” he says when asked what Esther is like since her return.
So far, the movie echoes the original film, but then comes a twist that gives new meaning to the old saying about cleaning up after the kids.
“Orphan: First Kill” maintains the mix of camp and gore that made the first movie memorable. The thirty-year-old killer in the body of a child is an absurd premise, but it’s handled with the right amount of dark humor, style and bloody kills, and is campy good fun. Much of this has to do with the twist—which I can’t tell you about—but it also helps that Fuhrman, who last played this character when she was a preteen, is able to sell the idea of Esther as a child-woman.
Director William Brent Bell uses a number of tricks, like forced perspective and child actor doubles, to create the illusion that Esther is a teenager that creates a sense of continuity with the first film. Thirteen years is a long layover between movies, but the two films fit together snugly.
“Orphan: First Kill” may be the prequel nobody was waiting for, but after a slow start in the movie’s first half, it picks up and freshens up the story with a ghoulishly fun twist and some good creepy kid action.
There are a couple of lines necessary for the success of every Creepy Kid movie. Chief among them: “I have a surprise for you, Mommy!” Why is the line so successful? Because the surprise is never good. A close second is the old, “I don’t think Mommy likes me very much” gag. These lines work because of the juxtaposition of innocence against a malevolent backdrop. In other words, evil children are scary. Orphan, starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard is the latest Creepy Kid movie to hit the big screen, but is it as disturbing as the classics of the genre like The Omen or Village of the Damned?
The story begins with a heartbreaking loss. John and Kate Coleman (Sarsgaard and Farmiga) are reeling after a miscarriage. The loss has taken a toll on their marriage, which seems about as stable as the bond between that other Jon and Kate we’ve been hearing so much about lately. In an attempt to right their awful situation they decide to adopt a child from a local orphanage. Finding themselves drawn to Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) they welcome the young girl into their home, but as soon as they do strange things start happening. Certain that something is wrong—really, really wrong—with her new daughter Kate tries to convince John that Esther isn’t the little bundle of joy they bargained for. He doesn’t heed her warnings until it is too late.
Orphan has echoes of many creepy kid movies but sets itself apart with (a probably unintentional) sense of camp that permeates its later scenes. It’s the kind of over-the-top dramatics that turned Mommy Dearest from bio pic into giggle fest. Its sense of hysterical fun makes it a good Friday night late show kind of movie with the right audience.
Orphan bills itself as a horror film, and it starts with a bang—well, more of a spurt or a gush, really—but many of the scares aren’t so much scares as they are jolts caused by loud audio cues and red herrings. I call them “booyas,” little unexpected shocks that snap you to attention. It’s a cheap way to get a rise out of people but it does create a bit of tension.
Modigliani beauty Vera Farmiga is effective as the woman on the edge of a breakdown. Peter Sarsguard wins the Least. Supportive. Husband. Ever. Award and has one insane, cringe worthy scene near the end of the movie that I assume he didn’t read before he agreed to take the part. It’s a ridiculous but of overacting but fits the camp feel established by director Jaume Collet-Serra.
The parents are the foundation that holds everything together but the kids are the stars. As younger sister Max Aryana Engineer has mastered the art of the terrified face and Jimmy Bennett as brother Danny has bored teenage boy down to a science but it is Isabelle Fuhrman as evil Esther who steals the show.
She’s a particularly good Creepy Kid, just other-worldly looking enough to be freaky but able to turn on the charm when she needs to. Her facility with Hieronymus Bosch-style paintings and claw hammers are definite signs that something’s not right with the little girl John and Kate invite into their home, but what can you expect when you spend less time deciding to adopt Esther than most people spend deciding on which kind of ice cream to buy.
Esther is a stern mistress who I could see inspiring a drinking game. How about a shot of Jäger every time she gives someone the creepy kid stink eye? You’d be on your butt before the forty minute mark.
Orphan isn’t great but it does provide a few campy laughs and a couple of squirmy scenes.