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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Another Case of the creepy kid

Halloween is quickly approaching, and this means plenty of new tricks and treats will be coming to theaters for horror fans to enjoy.

Case 39, the new psychological thriller from director Christian Alvart (Pandorum), joins the ranks of popular evil-child films like The Omen, The Ring and Orphan. The film offers a new variation of the trend that is sure to satisfy the sweet tooth of any horror movie buff.

The beginning of the story centers around Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger, Monsters vs. Aliens), a family services worker whose latest case involves a 10-year-old girl named Lilith (Jodelle Ferland, The Twilight Saga: New Moon), whom Emily believes is being abused by her parents.

When Lilith's parents attempt to burn her to death in the oven, Emily rescues Lilith and takes the young girl into her home until she can find a suitable family. As time goes on, terrible things start happening to the people around Emily and she begins to wonder if Lilith is really as innocent as she appears.

Alvart does a decent job with the material from screenwriter Ray Wright (The Crazies), but relies heavily on jump scares such as dogs barking and co-workers popping up from behind the desk, rather than true horror.

The highlights, however, occur during the quieter, more psychologically intense moments. A scene where Lilith sits at the kitchen tables cutting her peas in half is one of the creepiest parts of the entire film.

Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) plays Doug, a child psychologist and friend of Emily's who tries to aid her effort to help Lilith. It's interesting to see the serious side of Cooper, and it's a pleasant surprise how convincing he is in his role.

The highlight of the film is Ferland's performance, which steals the show and outshines the bigger Hollywood stars. Ferland, best known for her performance as Alessa in Silent Hill, brings exceptional depth and emotional range to the character. As the story progresses she slowly transforms from an adorably troubled young girl to a terrifyingly evil monster.

The character of Lilith is the centerpiece of the film and Wright does a fine job creating an interesting horror-film character.

Ferland excels at embodying the demon child. Her portrayal of Lilith's ability to psychologically torment her victims is what makes the character both terrifying and fascinating.

Ferland is especially good in a scene where her character has a one-on-one interview with Doug. Her subtle gestures and chilling tone of voice make the scene one of the most disturbing in the film and will surely send a chill down the audience's spines.

Another concept the film delves into is the idea of nightmares coming to life, a theme horror fans are more than accustomed with. Alvart brings some unique visual scares, including a chilling scene where Cooper is attacked by a swarm of giant wasps, which start to fly out of his eyes, ears, and mouth.

The film does transition into the ridiculous, towards the end, when the supernatural aspect of the story comes to fruition. Some laughable moments come when less-than-Spielberg-worthy visual effects attempt to transform Lilith into a demon, causing the film to briefly lose some of its horror credibility.

With the slew of new horror flicks coming out around this time of year, it would be easy for Case 39 to fly under the radar, but it is definitely worth a watch and horror fans will be pleased with the new spin on a classic idea.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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