Case 39 (R15)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner4/03/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 109 mins

Enjoyably trashy evil child thriller, enlivened by some agreeably creepy scenes and strong performances from Zellweger and Ferland.

What's it all about?
Directed by Christian Alvart - who made both the excellent Antibodies and the not-so-excellent Pandorum - Case 39 stars Renee Zellweger as social worker Emily Jenkins, who takes the case of 10-year-old Lily (Jodelle Ferland) and pops round for a visit, only to catch her parents (Callum Keith Rennie and Kerry O'Malley) trying to roast her in the oven. Emily rescues Lily and gains temporary custody, but when her friends, clients and colleagues start dying in mysterious ways, she begins to think Emily might be evil and turns to her cop-friend Mike (Ian McShane) for help.

The Good
Thrillers about evil children are always reliably entertaining and Case 39 is no exception, largely thanks to Jodelle Ferland, who is commendably creepy throughout – basically, you know from the moment you set eyes on her that Emily is going to regret pulling her out of that oven. Similarly, Renee Zellweger proves a dab hand at the old scream queen lark and there's enjoyable support from Ian McShane (who nabs all the best lines) and Bradley Cooper as Emily's child counsellor boyfriend, Doug, who has a regrettable phobia of insects.

Alvart orchestrates some genuinely creepy scenes (the death sequences are very well done, with Lily exploiting everyone's worst fears) but he isn't above resorting to cheap tricks such as jarring sound design work and sudden editing, to ensure that the shocks keep coming.

The Bad
To be fair, Case 39 does occasionally feel like it's cobbled together from several other films, to the point where it starts to resemble a game of spot-the-film-reference - Alvart basically chucks in everything from Hitchcock to J-horror to The Omen and back again. That said, it never really spoils the film and, if anything, provides extra fun for horror fans.

Worth seeing?
If you liked last year's Orphan, then Case 39 has your name written all over it – it's not quite as slick or as scary as Orphan but it's enjoyably over-the-top and delivers the requisite trashy thrills. Worth seeing, if you like this sort of thing.

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Content updated: 18/10/2019 03:07

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