Orphan: First Kill is the prequel to the 2009 horror Orphan, seeing the return of the murderous Esther 13 years after the original film.
The film opens in Estonia and Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), real name Leena, is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital two years before the events of the first film. She’s violent and desperate to be free and masterminds a plot to escape from the hospital, leaving a number of bodies in her wake. On the run, she identifies an American family with a missing daughter whom she can impersonate and soon transforms into the missing Esther Albright.
In the US, Tricia (Julia Stiles) and Allen Albright (Rossif Sutherland) are attending a fencing tournament in which their son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) is competing. After watching Gunnar win, the Albrights head outside and come face to face with Detective Donnan (Hiro Kanagawa) who notifies them that their daughter has been found. Tricia heads to Russia to collect Esther and bring her back home on a private jet to the rest of the family. While Gunnar proves hesitant to the return of his sister, Allen rejoices in having his daughter back after her disappearance devastated him.
Esther attempts to integrate herself into the Albright family using clues in the missing daughter’s bedroom, however she falls foul of the family psychiatrist and Detective Donnan who begin to have suspicions about her. As Esther tries desperately to fool the family into believing she’s their missing child, she soon discovers that all is not as it seems with the Albrights and that Esther herself might be in danger.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Orphan, I absolutely loved the twist and how the story turned out as it was completely unexpected. My main concern about this prequel was how they could possibly pull it off when the viewers already know the twist and I was expecting this story to just be a rehash of the original, however I was pleasantly surprised. The story does start off as expected however midway through there was a shock twist that I hadn’t seen coming that made the plot a lot more interesting. I’m so glad they decided to go down this route as it allowed the characters to become less stereotypical and also gave a new dynamic for Esther to work with, and it is truly a genius move.
It’s a shame though that the rest of the film doesn’t live up to this twist. Esther has lost some of her threat and ominous presence since the reveal in her first film, although it is still quite creepy to watch her cold and calculated manner as she dispatches her victims. I also think they’ve done a great job with the special effects, body doubles and camera shots to bring back Isabelle Fuhrman and make her look like she’s still a child. Unfortunately, it’s a little too obvious in her face that she’s older than she’s meant to appear, but the rest of her outward appearance is well done. Julia Stiles also shines, especially once we learn more about her character, although the rest of the family and cast are a little forgettable. And aside from the midway twist, the rest of the story plays out exactly how you’d expect which was a bit of a letdown. Alongside some second-rate effects and a sometimes cheesy script, this doesn’t live up to expectations despite some decent blood and gore.
Orphan: First Kill doesn’t quite live up to the entertaining and intriguing original, however, it still manages to score a killer twist that makes it a decent watch.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!