Movie Review: Orphan: First Kill (2022)

Synopsis: A 31-year-old Estonian psychiatric patient with a genetic disorder that leaves her looking like a young child escapes the asylum she's imprisoned in and impersonates Esther, the presumably abducted daughter of a wealthy American couple. However, her disguise doesn't fool everyone, including the mother, who knows what really happened to Esther.

Who's in it? The movie stars Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, Matthew Finlan and Samantha Walkes.

Review: My wife and I enjoyed the movie Orphan when we saw it a few months ago and, because of that, I added this prequel to our library when I came across it on one of our movie channels. We watched it tonight and, while it was an OK film, it did lack something when compared to the original.

I think there are a couple things that really hurt this film. One of the main ones is the whole adult personating a child thing just doesn't have as much impact when the viewer is already in the loop. Not to mention Fuhrman, who was 12 when she starred in the original, might have been a little too old (25) to play the same character today, when Esther herself was supposed to be younger. To be fair, Fuhrman didn't look 25 but she did look closer to 15 or 16, at least in my opinion, than someone who people believed was 7 or 8.

I will admit the movie's big twist involving the real Esther did make the film a little more intriguing by effectively adding two more villains and an extra element of danger for the main antagonist. However, my wife and I both thought the plot twist seemed a bit too much like a couple different episodes of Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit. In fact, some elements of this movie played out almost exactly like one of those episodes, which aired almost exactly 13 years ago.

Even without that familiarity, I thought the twist was poorly timed. I'll try not to give too many spoilers about it, but think the writers gave the big reveal too early. I think it would have had a lot more impact had the mom (Stiles) waited until closer to the end to tell Esther the truth and could have even created a few surprises in an otherwise predictable movie (it's a sequel and the original already told us how this movie ends).

Of course, I was questioning the premise long before that, mostly because I found it very hard to believe authorities wouldn't at least attempt to confirm the fake Esther's identity via DNA. As I told my wife, a premise like this would be much more believable had it been set in the 1980s or even early 1990s, when it would have been harder to prove her identity. Again, timing is everything.

Final Opinion: Waiting 13 years to film a prequel to a movie while still using the same actress was probably a mistake in itself. The overall execution didn't help matters. Again, it was an OK film but I'm not sure if it was worth taking the time to make it.

My Grade: C-


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