Review – Orphan First Kill

The issue with Orphan: First Kill is you know how it’s going to pan out. Even if you haven’t watched the original, it’s easy to guess how things might go. But for those that have watched the original, this is a copy of that story which makes you wonder exactly why it was made. 

Orphan: First Kill is set a year before the original film, Orphan. It sets the background to where Estonian Esther, who looks like a young girl but is in fact, a 40-year-old woman, came from and how she came to be living with a family in the USA.

When an art therapist starts working at an Estonian psychiatric hospital, Esther sees an opportunity. Creating a distraction and killing some guards, Esther manages to escape and hide in the therapist’s car as she drives home. Inside the therapist’s home, Esther kills her and then uses her house to create her next persona.

Searching online for missing children in America, Esther finds a missing girl who has some similarities to her appearance. Setting the plan in motion, Esther is escorted safely and comfortably to America to meet the wealthy but still grieving parents of their missing child.

Convincing the new family she is who she claims to be, she is sent to see the family psychologist. Doing a great job of convincing everyone, there is slight disbelief from her mother, Tricia (Julia Stiles). It turns out Tricia isn’t quite being forthcoming herself and is hiding the truth about her missing daughter. 

Tricia uses Esther’s arrival to her benefit and manages to blackmail her in an attempt to stop her from flirting with her husband, Allen. This doesn’t go to plan, and as things start to get worse between Tricia, her son Gunnar and Esther, everyone’s world comes crashing down. 

The plot of Orphan: First Kill is almost a copy of the original. Infiltrating a family, falling in love with the husband, and then killing everyone to be with the husband. Alone, it’s a fantastic concept but not one that needed to be duplicated. 

The film does become rather dark and twisted, which adds to the whole messed up concept. A child in love with its father. The brutal murders. The family secret and the blackmail that comes with that. It’s what makes the film work. If there were any attempt at trying to come across maybe a little softer, it would fail.

Playing Esther is Isabelle Furhman (The Hunger Games, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions), who played the character in the original. Aside from the character being exceptionally creepy, Furhman manages to create a child-like character whilst all the time being a 40-something-year-old. Little mannerisms expected of a child whilst slipping into a dark and twisted character were seamless.

Writer David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick is behind the prequel. Having also written the original screenplay, he does have a unique ability to work with weird and wonderful stories. Johnson-McGoldrick is also part of the writing team of The Conjuring 2 and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

Overall, Orphan: First Kill is nothing more than what you would expect from the title. However, if you’ve seen the original Orphan, you’ll know exactly how the story goes. For these reasons, the movie doesn’t quite hit the mark. Which begs the question if it was worth making at all. If there are any positives to take from this, it’s a wonderful performance from Isabelle Furhman and kudos to the team for making her look so young without using any CGI.

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