I’ll admit, when I first learned that a prequel was in the works for the unforgettable and utterly unnerving movie Orphan, I was skeptical on many levels. Now that it’s out today, I can give you my two cents.
I was wondering how director William Brent Bell would pull off transforming a now 13 year older Isabelle Fuhrman into an even younger Esther than in the 2009 horror. The answer, a de-aging program, makeup and lighting. Unfortunately, all the special effects just didn’t do the job. The character looks much older in First Kill than she did in the first movie. Which isn’t good seeing that First Kill is meant to be set years prior to the original.
Warning mild spoilers!
In First Kill we are introduced to the family previous to the one in Orphan. After escaping an asylum, Fuhrman’s character picks a child on a missing persons website and sets out to steal her identity and her family. I’ll tell you this. You will get hit with a huge twist, but it just doesn’t sit right. Esther has met her match with her new mom (Julia Stiles) and new brother (Gunner Albright). They are freaking twisted! It all just seems like a bit of stretch. Yes, I know parents will do crazy things for their kids, but allowing a strange con artist to pose as a child you know is dead is just a bit much. From the moment we meet the family that something is off and it’s easy to guess why that is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an interesting story and a well executed film, it just lacks believability.
The first film plays out against a shadowy background that is filled with darkness and shadows where as most of First Kill plays out in brightly lit rooms which influences the feel of the movie greatly.
As always, Fuhrman gives a great, chilling performance. Stiles plays a role like we’ve never seen her play, twisted and brutal. And Rossif Sutherland does fantastic, playing the heart of this unusual family. He’s the one we’re meant to feel for, and you will.
Does First Kill stand up to the original? No. But it’s still worth watching if you want to know more of Esther’s back story. Just don’t expect the same dark terror as the original. Sure, there’s death and blood, but First Kill just doesn’t feel as deep, as dark, or as chilling as the original. But let’s be honest, sequels/prequels rarely ever live up to the original.
Orphan: First Kill is out today in theaters, on Digital, and streaming on Paramount +. Check it out and let us know what you think.