Esther is back! 13 years after Juame Collet-Sera’s Orphan (2009), we have a prequel Orphan: First Kill. On paper this shouldn’t work, prequel sequels rarely do, many are only about keeping franchises alive a bit longer. William Brent Bell’s film is a highly entertaining thriller that exceeds all (low) expectations.
Isabelle Fuhrman returns as the molester of families ready to terrorize once again. When the actress originally filmed Orphan she was virtually the age Esther was meant to be. She been a child who is actually an adult, can the 25 year old pull off being the child?
We can’t deny the one of the best twists in Orphan was Esther’s actual age, or should we say Leena Klammer is actually 33. The reason why she can get away with pretending to be a child is all thanks to a medical condition makes her look younger and stumps her growth.
In First Kill takes us back to 2007 and the Estonian Saarna institute which Leena resided. She cunningly escapes the facility all thanks to perverted security guard who was under her hypnotic spell. Like her other victims slashed to death with his pass finds a way out into the snow storm that awaits her outside. Thankfully for her she finds escape in new art therapist Anna Troyev (Gwendolyn Collins), car boot.
Finding our way back to Tallinn and like Lena’s other victims finds her impending doom. At Anna’s home she gets herself onto the internet, a search later she learns about a wealthy family whose daughter is missing. She would be 10 and called Esther and decides to make contact she is Esther Albright. She travels to USA and Tricia (Julia Stiles), Allen (Rossif Sutherland), and their son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) greet her. Happy but cautious Esther and the family start to bond together especially Allen thanks to art.
Early on cracks are starting to appear, Gunnar has hatred for his newly found little sister who calls her Lizzie Borden. Tricia might be delighted to have her back, she’s not 100% that it’s Esther. Same can be said about the police officer behind missing persons case Detective Donna (Hiro Kanagawa). It’s only a matter of time Leena’s secret will be out, there is another twist someone else has a secret too.
Fuhrman pulls it off as our young girl come sociopathic killer once again. All thanks to the use of camera angles, carefully place sets and child body double (as used for the Hobbits in The Lord Of The Rings films). They conjure illusion perfectly and Fuhrman unhinged performance is richly entertaining. She picks up the mannerisms of the child she is playing very well, throw in a few cosmetics to convince us her youthful looks are genuine. She’s sadistic when she has to be and like a child throw the toys out the pram. Julia Stiles looks to be having a fun time as Tricia and the pair hit off each other with brilliant chemistry.
Orphan: First Kill is perfect however it’s weirder, maybe even better than Orphan. Throw in Michael Sembello’s Maniac from Flashdance camps things up. Delivering an unpredictable, fun slasher that will actually have you rooting for Leena or is it Esther??