Directed by: William Brent Bell
Written by: David Coggeshall
Starring: Isabelle Fuhrman, Rossif Sutherland, Hiro Kanagawa, Matthew Finlan, Julia Stiles
When there’s no way to move forward, sometimes you have to move backward when you want to reprise a character that brought on so much success. When it involves a child actor it seems nearly impossible to go in that direction but that certainly will not stop Orphan: First Kill from telling its story in the most bonkers and unexpected way possible, which makes sense going by the surprises the first film had in store for us.
Suffering from hypopituitarism that makes her continually look like a child even if she’s 31, Esther finds a way to pose as a missing child to get adopted by an American family. This leads her to a situation where she can endear herself to the husband and try to get rid of the others, but things get a bit more complicated than she expected.
With this film serving as the prequel to what occurs in Orphan it would be unwise to do the exact same plotline this go-around as the last one seeing as the horror of the narrative proved to be quite dependent on the major reveal occurring. First Kill instead forgoes the big twist of revealing Esther to be an older woman in the body of a young girl and instead goes in a much more entertaining and fascinating direction in the way it explores not just the familial unit but one in the elite circles that makes individuals do things to protect their status. It shows what a mother would be willing to do to save her family but without the innocence that came with Kate in the first film.
This film switches the perspective as well instead of seeing everything happen through the eyes of a distressed mother, we follow Esther seeing as she has nothing else to hide from the audience This allows for a different point-of-view that eliminates much of the horror this film has to offer, but it accomplishes it in a different way when looking at the societal structures set in place to protect certain individuals at the expense of others. It makes for such a different viewing experience as compared to the preceding film in such a brilliant way and I love the creative team thought of going in this direction.
The big elephant in the room, however, comes from having Isabelle Fuhrman reprise her role as Esther in the film 13 years later with her still portraying a nine-year-old child. They certainly employ tricks and distant shots to give the appearance of a young girl and closeups when she does interact, but you just have to buy into the silliness of the situation as a whole and simply accept we’re doing this. There’s nothing to contend with and the film does not ever feel the need to address it, thankfully. Fuhrman is Esther and in her reprisal she does a fantastic job once again in portraying the serial killer by showing her fake sweetness along with the murderous rage she can set forth. Most certainly her defining role thus far in her young career and she has assuredly made it work.
With this film, we swap out mothers and get Julia Styles instead of Vera Farmiga and she becomes a welcomed addition to Esther’s story. An actor who has worked interspersedly on the big screen recently and she absolutely devours everything this role provides for her. She does not operate in the same way and chews it up along with Fuhrman to create quite a different head-to-head as compared to what Ester had to encounter the first time around. It makes the fight for the affection of the husband that much more different and even in a much more fun way.
In no way did I expect Orphan: First Kill to turn into what it does and it makes for such a wonderful viewing experience in the way the narrative shifts completely on its head to make for a completely different type of story and one that works in its own merits. It allows us to experience Fuhrman as Esther one more time, but in all honesty, they should just keep going with her and continue to pull off her looking like a nine-year-old child for as long as possible. Even if it makes no sense, just keep it going because Fuhrman just owns this character and has mastered exactly what makes her tick, which made this film such a treat.