Review: Orphan – First Kill

The Gonzo Journals

January 29th, 2023

First of all, it is IMPOSSIBLE to review this film without spoilers for the original film. DO NOT read this review unless you want to have the twist totally ruined for you. Trust me, these twists are worth it to the point that M. Night Shyamalan jerks off to these films and calls them “Daddy”. Maybe. I can’t officially back this claim up with eyewitness accounts. Let’s just run with it.

Here is the trailer for the original 2009 film:


You’ve been warned.

The Orphan was one of those films I slept on for an awfully long time. A decade to be exact! Somehow, I managed to avoid spoilers for ten years and watched that film with no ideas regarding the plot. I just knew the thumbnail of the film had a mean looking brat with pig tails. The fact she was a grown woman in disguise freaked me the fuck out, but I’d seen that twist before. There were several Looney Tunes cartoons back in the day which used this plot. I just never imagined a serious writer would use it in a horror film. Kudos to them!

During the original film, it’s touched quite a bit on the premise the main character Esther escaped from a mental institution in Russia and used her “condition” to swindle and murder other families. This back story is where we get Orphan – First Kill, and it’s brilliant!

Here are the synopsis and the trailer:

After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.

That’s all you need to know.

Sometimes, a film has such an amazing back story that you’d want to see a film made of it rather than the film you got. Not true with the Orphan franchise. You’ll be glad they made both films! No chemical enhancement needed!

The Orphan – First Kill was released last year in 2022 fourteen years after the original. The lead actress, Isabelle Fuhrmann has aged slightly within that decade and a half, but it doesn’t distract from the believability of the film at all. She’s still very youthful looking and replays her Esther character flawlessly.

The premise is as follows: Esther is a total fucking psychopath and has a genetic condition which causes her to look like a ten-year-old forever. Think of the missed opportunity of riches she could’ve been making from priests and politicians alone! Instead, she’s managed to get her tiny ass in trouble in Estonia and is housed inside a creepy mental facility. Why do all these places look the same in movies? I was waiting for Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito to pop up at any moment to bounce little Esther on their knee. Especially DeVito. His essence just oozes with “Pedo”, doesn’t it? Just me? Danny DePedo? Anyone?

Anyway, she seduces a guard by shaking her tiny booty and speaking like an adolescent and escapes. Some may believe this to be farfetched but, I worked in a correctional facility for quite a while, and detention officers got sacked on an average of once every ninety days for “falling in love” with an inmate. One of them I knew was forced to perform a strip search on an inmate who was hung like a donkey. She, being a young, fairly attractive woman, was changed forever at the sudden sight of the elephant trunk this mutant had hanging between his legs. She wound up pregnant and unemployed simultaneously. Dick. It’s what’s for dinner. Dick, the other white meat. I know this is a roundabout way of explaining the commonality of this type of thing, but it’s the best I can do right now. Read and accept it.

“Esther” then searches the internet for missing children who may resemble her physical traits. She manages to find one, tricks local law enforcement into believing she’s been kidnapped and shipped off to Russia and fools the emotionally distraught family into believing her bullshit.

What follows is a plot twist I NEVER saw coming. This sets up a domino effect leading to the events of the original film.

If you’ve been sleeping on this prequel out of fear you’ll be forced to sit through another horrible horror legacy reboot/sequel, don’t be. This one is pulled off masterfully and worth your ninety minutes of attention. I won’t say anything else for fear of ruining the above-mentioned twist. Just know that they’ve managed to top the twist revealed in the first film and cranked it up a notch. This is a rare feat in modern horror. Most of them are CGI bore fests focusing on jump scares rather than character development. This is not the case with the Orphan franchise.

Is there a trilogy in the works here? I hope not. It’s perfect the way it is, and the main character isn’t getting any younger. Another prequel would be out of the question and a sequel to the original wouldn’t work either without Esther using some type of de-aging technology of Lucasfilm proportions. In other words, money.

If you’ve read this far, I’ve already spoiled the plot of the original 2009 film. Still, watch it regardless. Then, enjoy a banger of a prequel which will keep you on the edge of your seat for an hour and a half.

4/5 Stars, easy.


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