Release Date: October 1, 2010
Rated R (mild language, violence, disturbing images)
Starring Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Ian McShane and Jodelle Ferdland
What I Rate It: 3.5 out of 5
Case 39 follows social worker Emily (played by Renee Zellweger) on a crusade to save a severely abused little girl (Jodelle Ferdland). She saves little Lilith from certain death and the hands of her parents only to find out that the parents had the right idea.
I really didn't expect a whole lot from this film. I enjoy a good scare, so I was hopeful, but I figured that any self-proclaimed horror film that starred the likes of Renee Zellweger would be more of a snoozer. I was pleasantly surprised. Though most of the scares in this one were of the jump variety, they were well-placed and entertaining. Full review after the jump. WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Zellweger was what you would expect her to be in any film: slight, quietly voiced, easily manipulated. That is why her character makes a good target for the little demon kid. However, it is easy to get caught up in the early deception that Ferdland's character puts on. As a parent, I found it really hard not to get angry with the clearly abusive parents and want to protect the little girl. It was especially hard to watch as the supposedly crazy parents shoved the sleeping Ferdland into an oven and duct taped it shut. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a movie if they were successful in their murder attempt, but it was hard to deal with nonetheless.
Bradley Cooper should stay out of horror films. I haven't liked him in a single one I've seen him in (Midnight Meat Train was a freaking joke). His character's first scene portrays him as this slightly sleazy best-friend-wants-to-be-boyfriend-or-friend-with-benefits type, but then he turns on the charm as a child psychologist (huh?). His character redeems himself from some of the sleaziness in his early dealings with Ferdland's outwardly traumatized Lily. Even when Lily shows her true colors, Cooper keeps the pace. My favorite scene in the movie is between Ferdland and Cooper, where this little girl not only punks a psychologist, but makes him afraid of her. It's funny and scary all at the same time. Cooper's good performance ends there, unfortunately. His supernatural death scene is borderline ridiculous. He looks more constipated than scared. then the actual death of his character is abrupt and hard to catch. Really, it looks like he would have lived through what happened, but they wanted him dead so they made it worse.
Ferdland is a master at the creepy little girl roles. She turns on a bit of the scariness we see from her in Silent Hill, but the scariest stuff from her comes when she is playing it sweet. Honestly, what is creepier than a sweet little girl that can kill you with your worst fears? The only complaint I have about her character is that she really didn't waste any time pretending to be a good little girl once she was placed under Emily's care. I mean, if she managed to stay with her parents, who obviously did not have any problem killing her, for ten years before that, she had to have played innocent for a lot longer than she did with her new guardian. It makes for good pacing, but was a little confusing.
Bottom line, it's a decent movie if you like a fun scare. A few scenes are pretty disturbing, but if you have a stomach for that kind of stuff, it's worth checking out.