Director: William Brent Bell
Writer: David Coggeshall
Starring: Isabelle Fuhrman, Rossif Sutherland, Julia Stiles, Matthew Finlan, Hiro Kanagawa
It’s been thirteen years since the modern horror classic Orphan was released, with its incredible twist, nail-biting tension, and terror. Now with Orphan: First Kill we get to see Esther’s ‘origin’ story, developing the backstory that was briefly touched upon in the original film. Thankfully the prequel lives up to the high expectations of the original.
Leena (Isabelle Fuhrman) escapes from the Saarne Institute in Estonia and pretends to be Esther Albright, the missing daughter of an American family, who has been missing for several years. Both of Esther’s parents, Tricia (Julia Stiles) and Allen (Roffis Sutherlan) are over the moon to have found their daughter. Slowly, Tricia sees a different side to Esther and starts to notice that she isn’t quite the same as she remembers.
Right from the beginning there is a creepy atmosphere, seeing the Saarne Institute and the other patients there. Esther is just as ruthless and brutal as she is in the original film, manipulating those around her to get what she wants. She is an incredibly sinister character, and this time around there’s no hiding that from the audience, her true colours are on show straight away. In the same way the film starts strongly with its setting, and you’re immediately hooked by the dark and grimy institute and the film doesn’t let your attention go until the tense finale.
There are a few jump scares, but that isn’t the full focus on the film. It never reaches true horror, but instead has a captivating story, and a building tension. Isabelle Fuhrman is incredibly sinister as Leena/Esther, as she worms her way into the lives of the Albright family. There’s also a lot of interesting conflict between Esther and Inspector Donnan (Hiro Kanagawa), who was investigating her disappearance and is suspicious of Esther and her return to America. He notices the mistakes she makes, and you can feel there’s a bad ending coming for him almost instantly.
Tricia is also suspicious of her newly returned daughter but is also incredibly happy to see life back in her husband. Previously he’d been more reserved, not painting like he used to, and not appearing at events, until their daughter is returned, and he is back to his old self. He wants to believe without a doubt that Esther is back, leaving Tricia to deal with the situation alone. Julia Stiles is excellent, becoming more sinister herself as the plot progresses and she will do anything to protect her family
While this is a prequel, with all the events taking place around two years before the original film, it would be best to watch the original first if you haven’t already. There are spoilers in this one that will ruin the first film. With that being said, if you have seen the original then there’s still plenty of surprises in store. At first it feels like the story is following very similar plot beats to the first one, and then around halfway through there’s a killer twist that turns everything upside down. It completely comes out of nowhere and works perfectly. Everything is ramped up from there until the final showdown.
In the end, if you’ve seen Orphan, you know pretty much what to expect, and you know how the story must end in order for the original to happen. That doesn’t really matter though, as the journey to get there is definitely worth it. Orphan: First Kill lives up to the original, with its own great twist, creepy moments and a creepy atmosphere running throughout.
Signature Entertainment presents Orphan: First Kill exclusively in Cinemas from 19th August
Thanks for reading! If you liked my review, please subscribe to never miss a post: