The prequel/sequel that hits Blu-ray some how matches the insanity of the original!
The first Orphan film was admittedly a glaring blind spot for me, that is until I got word that the sequel was some kind of unhinged masterwork right up there with Malignant. Now I use “masterwork” in the realm of horror sequels, where the law of diminishing returns is the rule not the exception. It’s rare, but not completely impossible to once in a while have a film that through some way matches or manages to outshine its predecessor, in some form or fashion.
So not only did I watch the first film, which by some miracle had never been spoiled for me and I was literally floored to discover the awkward adopted pre-teen Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) was in fact a 30 year old Russian woman; but it then raised the bar for that second film even higher before I hit play on the prequel. Somehow First Kill also had my jaw planted firmly on the floor for the entire runtime and I just wanted to warn you before I dig in, spoilers are most definitely coming.
Orphan First Kill, given the end of the original film, is a prequel showing us Esther’s first family and the tragedy that befell them to land her with the family from the first film. Where it starts its meta weirdness is Orphan was released in 2009 and its star was 12 pretending to be a 30 something Russian woman in that first film. In this film she is a 30 something pretending to be a 12 year old, and it adds a surreal filter to the world as most of the adults around Esther wore stilts or used forced perspective a la Lord of the Rings to achieve the gag.
What happens is Esther here is pretending to be the lost child of a wealthy well off family after escaping a mental institution, who in the beginning is welcomed with open arms. This is where you would expect basically the same film as before, where Esther basically kills off those around the family one by one who discover her secret, and the film basically starts off in that direction.
The fun begins when we discover the older son in fact killed the young girl Esther is impersonating and their mother (Julia Stiles) covered it up from the cops and her husband, who appears to be the only one who really missed the girl. Now they knew Esther wasn’t the missing daughter and they turn the tables on her who is warned to not to overstay her welcome or risk facing the same fate as her predecessor. It’s a great scene where Juilia Stiles lays this all out and basically has the viewer actually sympathetic for Esther, the killer, realizing it was she who fell into their trap.
I mean we know she survives, but given the insanity this film is willing to inflict on its audience, nothing is truly off the table. It’s the kind of meta and out of the box pitch that has Esther trying to escape her family that both gives the film some real stakes and some genuinely clever character moments that had me just swimming with glee.
The disc is a bare bones affair, but looks and sounds great. I mean I doubt even the studio realized what they had before it hit VOD where most caught this film. But don’t let that stop you from picking this up and checking it out, you wont regret it. I honestly can’t wait to spring it on unsuspecting folks who were a fan of the original unaware of what laid before them.
It’s not just the concept either, the script and the performances that just make it work so well, I mean everyone is playing it straight and Isabelle Fuhrman just kills it here. There is so much depth to this performance that I honestly wasn’t expecting here as the hunter, becomes the hunted and Julia Stiles is also pretty damn great here. Orphan First Kill is right up there with Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 for me in horror sequels that manage to outshine the original, by using a clever, yet humorous approach. Its not an easy feat to do, but damn I hope they some how make a third one.