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HORROR

‘Orphan: First Kill’ Review | A Fantastic, Demented, Gothic, Camp, Thriller

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Orphan: First Kill is a fantastic Demented Gothic Camp Thriller showcasing Esther’s terrifying Return from Signature Entertainment UK. This thrilling prequel to the original is nail-biting, nerve-racking & had me on the edge of my seat. Isabelle Fuhrman returns as the master manipulator 

After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family. Yet, an unexpected twist arises that pits her against a mother who will protect her family from the murderous “child” at any cost. 

Isabelle Fuhrman as “Esther” in Orphan: First Kill from Paramount Players, eOne, and Dark Castle Entertainment.

The first “Orphan” movie was released back in 2009 and instantly became a cult classic for fans of the horror genre. The film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra starred 10-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, an orphan adopted by a couple desperate to expand their family. However Esther begins to make things rough and the iconic twist is that the young girl suffered from Hypopituitarism, a disorder that caused her to stop growing, making her look like a child even though she is, in fact, a murderous adult woman in her 30s. She feels like a freak and this truly leans into her psychosis, which has inevitably led her to go mad and become destructive. Esther is hyper-intelligent and is able to pit people against one another. 

The screenplay for the film’s prequel was written by David Coggeshall from a story by producers Alex Mace and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. They’ve put Esther in a new set of circumstances which help the narrative and will truly lead the audience to think they’re getting something they’ve witnessed before, however, the filmmakers pull the rug from underneath and show an origin like no other as we witness a tense beginning inside the Saarne Institute in Estonia where Esther is residing as a patient. It’s an intense start to the film as suspicion builds because we watch Esther devise her plan to impersonate a Connecticut couple’s missing child, who had disappeared four years ago. 

Once the creative team solved the story, especially the all-important twist. Director William Brent Bell was brought on board to direct the film and he brings Esther’s psyche visually to life. 

Orphan: First Kill also sees the return of Isabelle Fuhrman reprising her role as the titular character. The actress, now 25 years old still possesses her youth and it’s a testament to the filmmakers for crafting this illusion so that the audience is convinced that Fuhrman is thirteen years younger. Special makeup effects artists collaborated with the actress and other departments. They relied on old-school Hollywood techniques such as contacts, makeup, and raising tables on apple boxes, and the cast wore very high heels to alter the perspective. Fuhrman also had to undergo a transformation to act more childlike, a lot of that came from the fantastic young body doubles and bringing back the dialect she has painstakingly studied for the first film. Some things which are to be questioned about Esther will be answered but once the twist happens, Orphan: First Kills becomes a different movie. 

We’re also introduced to the wealthy, suburban Albright family- Tricia, Allen, and their son Gunnar- had a tragedy of unspeakable magnitude as their youngest daughter, Esther, disappeared four years ago and we witness the reflect this incident has had on each of them. The Matriarch, Tricia Albright is played by Julia Stiles who shines in the role as she brings such depth and personality. The movie showcases the uneasy reconnection with her mysteriously returned daughter and I absolutely loved Esther and Tricia’s complex relationship as it truly created tension. 

Passing herself off as the real Esther, she uses the same manipulative techniques that she’ll eventually use on Vera Farmiga. We see her gaslight Tricia, awkwardly seduce the father Allen( Rossif Sutherland) and threaten her new sibling Gunner (Matthew Finlan). However, she underestimates the dynamic she’s conned her way into. 

Orphan: First Kill fully embraces its self-awareness and dials up the madness as it injects energy and plenty of camp unhinged moments that are certainly entertaining.

Signature Entertainment presents Orphan: First Kill exclusively in Cinemas from Friday 19th August 

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HORROR

Longlegs: An Atmospherically Distressing Exploration of Evil

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Longlegs [credit: neon]

Longlegs has been the talk of the town with early screening reactions terming it as “the scariest movie of the decade”, which not only raises eyebrows but also significantly raises expectations. Neon is backing it with a strong marketing campaign that has got many horror fans extremely excited about it. Oz Perkins’ latest horror feature stars Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Blair Underwood and Alicia Witt.

 

The official synopsis says “In pursuit of a serial killer, an FBI agent uncovers a series of occult clues that she must solve to end his terrifying killing spree.” Maika Monroe plays Lee Harker, the FBI agent on the hunt for Longlegs, described as highly intuitive and sensitive, while Nic Cage who also produces the movie, plays the horrifying serial killer. Perkins sets the standard right off the bat with the very first scene of the movie, which proves to be just an appetizer for what’s to come.

 

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie is divided into 3 parts that act as the standard three acts in a feature. The first two acts are heavily focused on Lee as we get to know her and follow the FBI’s pursuit of a serial killer on a spree. Lee is a single child, lives alone in a cabin in the woods, and is highly intuitive, maybe even psychic. She is able to decode the clues left behind by Longlegs at the locations of the murders. Her performance is restrained yet penetrative and often symbolizes how the viewer feels while watching Longlegs.

 

Nicolas Cage is horrifyingly creepy as our serial killer. He is the best horror villain since Bill Skarsgaard’s Pennywise in my opinion. His screen time is limited but, highly impactful. The makeup and costume design deserves a lot of credit for his extremely gross appearance and at times you won’t be able to recognize that it’s Cage under that wig. He has a certain mannerism that is extremely distressing and just his words are enough to scare the hell out of you. Perkins manages to get the best out of both his leads, while the supporting cast is decent as well.

 

When it comes to the visuals, this is a very aesthetically strong film. Perkins manages to create atmospheric tension and fear with constantly changing aspect ratios and his color grading choices which are supported by a crisp sound design. Where he falls short is the writing. The movie is too slow at times which causes it to lose its intensity. Some of the dialogues also feel very generic or amateur, with jokes that feel abrupt and unnecessary.

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie also slips into multiple genres, most of which are intentional but do not necessarily work. It is a horror movie at the outset but also a serial killer crime drama, an investigative thriller with shades of noir and supernatural. The writing really falls off a cliff in the third act, with a twist that makes sense, but massively underwhelmes. That said, the way it explores evil is intriguing and offers a lot of food for thought. I would suggest going into this movie without any knowledge, the lesser you know the better.

 

Longlegs may not be the scariest movie of the decade but has more than enough to crawl under your skin and deliver pulsating chills. It has strong lead performances, effective jumpscares, and a beautifully unnerving aesthetic and works best when it explores evil and focuses on its characters. Horror fans should definitely experience this suffocating and haunting ride. Perkins’ latest feature is his best so far, but that said, it gets buried under its immense expectations.

Longlegs will be released in cinemas on July 12.

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The Exorcism | Official Trailer

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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Genre:

Horror, Thriller

Release Date:

June 7, 2024

Director:

Joshua John Miller

Cast:

Russell Crowe, Sam Worthington, Samantha Mathis

Plot Summary:

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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Trap | Official Trailer

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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Genre:

Crime, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

August 9, 2024

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:

Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, Marnie McPhail

Plot Summary:

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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