MOVIE REVIEW: “Case 39” stars Renée Zellweger (Judy, Jerry Maguire), Jodelle Ferland (The Tall Man, Silent Hill), Ian McShane (John Wick, Deadwood [TV series]), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born , Silver Linings Playbook), Callum Keith Rennie (Born to Be Blue, Californication [TV series]), Kerry O’Malley (Why Women Kill [TV series], Snowpiercer [TV series]), and Adrian Lester (The Day After Tomorrow , Primary Colors). It is directed by Christian Alvart (Pandorum, The Island [TV series]) and written by Ray Wright (Greta, The Crazies).
After saving a child (Ferland) from abusive parents, social worker Emily (Zellweger) decides to adopt her, only to realize that there is something evil lurking within this girl.
Talk about unsettling.
Before I made my big move to Atlanta this past weekend, I sat down to watch one more film with my family. What was chosen? “Case 39,” a freaky horror movie dealing with a demented child. Gotta go out with a bang, am I right?
I had never heard of this before that night. A Renée Zellweger horror never appeared on my radar, let alone one that co-starred both Ian McShane and Bradley Cooper (this was clearly before Cooper made a big splash in cinema). The power trio made for an entertaining night, though the definition of “entertaining” may vary for some. For me, this was a disturbing picture. One that had me look away from the screen a few times and wonder how dark they could truly get. The answer? Pretty dark.
Christian Alvart is no stranger to horror. According to his portfolio on IMDb, the spooky genre is his wheelhouse, and he knows how to best capture frights. There are a few jump scares littered throughout, but for the majority, Alvart relies on both the haunting performances and horrifying visuals to sell the story. And boy, does he get good results. From start to finish, I’m locked in and wiggling to be set free from the chaos that unfolds. It’s predictable where everyone will end up (or the fact that this girl is the center conflict to begin with), but the execution of everything left me completely uneasy and all the more unsure as to how far Alvart will go with the scares.
I’m not a big fan of demonic stories. When I watch one, I feel like I have to take a shower afterwards. Any time satanic worshipping, rituals, or demon possession is portrayed in cinema, it is often taken to extremes, with little to no light in sight. Granted, it’s the horror genre; that stuff is expected. But when it comes to preference, it isn’t my bag. So seeing this freaky girl (possessed by some spawn of satan) torture this social worker made me want to run for the hills. Time and time again, for almost two hours, this woman seeks an escape and doesn’t find one. It’s quite unnerving – sometimes exhausting – and I found myself a few times wondering when the madness would end.
Zellweger, McShane, and Cooper are the capstones of this venture. Their performances are solid, and Zellweger is compelling. Not to mention the little girl, played by Jodelle Ferland. I don’t know where they found this actress, but she gave a bone-chilling turn-in. Man, was she creepy.
If you are a fan of horror, you may enjoy “Case 39.” As someone who doesn’t watch much in this genre, I am probably less privy to potential similarities it may share with other horror flicks (as there are a ton of scary kids/demon possessed pictures out there), but all in all it stands as a fairly unique feature solely due to its direction and performances. I was unsettled, which was the goal of the filmmakers, though I can assure you that I will avoid watching this again. FINAL SCORE: 78%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: