VIDEO: Orphan (2009)

BONUS! Full of Questions’ commentary:

Full of Questions (who apologizes in advance for the recovering-from-laryngitis voice) brings you Orphan, the 2009 horror flick with only a slight resemblance to the likes of The Omen and The Bad Seed. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard adopt a little Russian girl (Hunger Games‘s Clove) who seems sweet and innocent, but soon she’s killing small animals, dropping F bombs, and seducing her adoptive father. Luckily, it’s all explained away by an utterly bonkers twist ending.

On a personal note, this is Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, and F.o.Q. will be answering your questions about the condition on her YouTube channel. Please watch this video to learn more, and if you have questions to contribute, she’d really appreciate it!

UPDATED Dec. 9, 2012! In the bonus video, Full of Questions provides commentary on her review of Orphan!

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  • Bouncy X

    yeah that ending was unexpected, i realize they used a double for “certain scenes” but still sometimes it really was that kid and yeah….uncomfortable. lol

  • Cristiona

    While the father was painfully resistant to reality in a horror movie, I
    don’t think he was that unreasonable as a normal person. Just like
    everyone wanted to shove a bully off a slide in the playground but
    doesn’t, most people are willing to accept coincidence long past when it
    ceases to be reasonable.

    If someone offered you three points of info about your adopted daughter
    as vague as “two girls fought, she was there,” you’d probably just shrug
    it off. It’s only because we, as the audience, know that 1) she really
    is evil and 2) this is a horror movie where there’s no such thing as
    coincidence, that we think he’s being exceptionally oblivious to

    Also, based on my 10 seconds of research, hypopituitarism doesn’t work
    that way. It doesn’t make a 33 year old woman look like a child and it
    doesn’t give them some twisted, hyper-violent version of the Electra
    complex. In fact, one of the things it can cause is DECREASED sexual
    drive. It’s like the just googled for “rare disease” and picked one
    that sounded cool. Also, you’d think the doctors examining her after
    the broken arm might have noticed the marks on her skin, the fact that
    she wasn’t 9 biologically, or the fact that she had dentures in;
    something, at least.

    Finally, I think “I’m not your fucking mommy” was supposed to be a
    callback to the son’s earlier utterance of “she’s not my fucking
    sister.” Still, an enjoyable review and your audio levels are good.
    Even though they aren’t needed anymore, I’m glad you kept the
    subtitles. However, when you splash to other images with text
    commentary (like the news clipping towards the end) you cut away from
    them really quick; I’m a fast reader, but I had to replay and pause to
    be able to read both the headline and your comment.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Thanks for the constructive criticism!

      – It didn’t bother me that he didn’t realize she was evil but that he didn’t realize that she may have some unresolved issues.

      -I know. That was a named diagnosis that I feel they could have omitted, since we DO know the symptoms (the description of her mental problems was way too vague for me). I didn’t want to bring it up because it’s actually difficult to find out exactly how it does work without the copious medications that most sufferers take (for a person doing some online research, anyway). However, I don’t think they were implying that the hypopituitarism caused an Electra complex but that whatever made her “dangerously ill, violent” did.

      -The only decent explanation I can find for why doctors didn’t notice anything wrong with Esther when she went in for the broken arm (seriously, you think she’d know better than to get herself into the hospital): When you go to the ER, especially late at night, doctors often want to get you in and get you out- they wouldn’t pay attention to anything but the broken bone. However, I think the signs of hypopituitarism would grab their attention as the disease leads to brittle bones (a possible reason for her arm breaking even when Kate didn’t pull it that hard).

      – “I’m not your f-ing mommy.” Yeah, that does make more sense. It IS still a funny coincidence though.

      -I’m working on finding out how long I need to keep the captions on.

      • Cristiona

        Okay, yeah, I can see your point about the father.  I think head-in-the-sandism is still pretty common and powerful, but he probably should have at least kept it in mind.  Especially once they got to the whole arson thing with her previous family.  Of course, the orphanage really dropped the ball when it comes to due diligence.

        Thinking back to when I broke my arm, the doctors weren’t especially interested in anything but the break.  Still, you’d think there’d be some weirdness in x-rays or something to show that she wasn’t really 9.  And you’d think the marks on her wrists would have been noticed!  Especially since hospitals are required to report any evidence of abuse.

        For the captions, I’d say probably doubling the time you leave them up, or maybe 75% longer would suffice, but that’s always a tough thing to manage since everyone reads at different speeds.

  • Sofie Liv

    You know… the character of Esther kind of reminds me of the episode. “Baby-doll.” From Batman Tas, which is indeed, a pretty disturbing episode.

    Only that episode actually dwells more on the idea of the inner psychosis of a grown woman for-ever trapped in a little girls body and that is what drives her crazy, just the final scene in that episode :/

    Any-who, this is not about Batman but this movie, from the clips you showed, it actually looked as a good horror flick to me, as you said, especially the performance of Esther seemed really scary delivering a desired effect, it looks kind of cool, even if I am not an horror fan.

    • Goblin1001

      Absolutely–  BABY DOLL dealt with the character better, because it didn’t feel the need to keep her situation a secret.  We knew her story almost from the beginning.  THE ORPHAN was somewhat handicapped in that area by making it a twist, so it couldn’t tell us about it too soon.

    • Austin712

      I just saw “The Dark Knight Rises”–the first of that particular Batman story arc that I’ve seen–and I am totally in love with the realism the directors employ when drafting villains, so suffice it to say that I wish this film had never been released, and instead allowed Esther’s character profile to be reworked as a backstory for a realistic Babydoll in a future Dark Knight film.

  • Monterey Jack

    Fucking HATED this movie.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Care to elaborate? I’d love to hear why.

  • Rocha674

    Don’t you just love it when you have an epiphany? Sometimes I can guess that a film has a twist just by reading the synopsis. This happened to me with this film. I mean, that big reveal is unsettling but if it didn’t exist then the film would be pointless. what I am saying is that the biggest weakness of this film – in terms of its genre at least – is that it was clearly made up starting off from the ending. That left the writers with at least 80 minutes of time to kill – pun intended. I don’t care for these kind of films that are essentially a one trick pony. There are hints of broader themes that could have been explored, but cheap thrills come first. “We need to talk about Kevin” is the kind of film this one could only aspire to be. Still, I enjoyed your review.

    • FullofQuestions1

      I knew that there was going to be a twist ending right when I saw the trailer. The trailer, by the way, is not very well put together- I was surprised after finally seeing the movie how few of the trailer shots were in the same context that they had been shown to be in.

      Orphan DID scratch the surface of several themes- family tension and distrust, feelings of inadequacy, overcoming past mistakes, coping with a loss. Kate was a very strong character, and I felt that her shame as a recovering alcoholic as well as the resulting distrust by others were portrayed very well.
      The character arc didn’t really seem to belong, though- it didn’t add very much and thus seemed like a distraction.

      I agree with you in this respect; this film was not too creative and frankly safe. The characters elaborated on had arcs that have been done. Like I said, and like Sofie said below, it’d have been a lot more interesting if they explored what Esther felt. I really wish they’d kept the early draft of the movie where they seem to have explored her feelings of not being loved by a man because of her appearance. But no, they just go for the creepy little girl who does creepy things  and hides it by not always being creepy.

      They also could have gone further into exploring the stress of adopting an older child (they only do a little bit). With the need for cheap thrills however, I do see why parents were upset by it. This “adopted child” is not mean or evil because of some issues that are elaborated on, humanizing her. She’s evil because we need a scary movie.

      It didn’t hold up as well as I expected it to, but I stand by what I said- it’s a good movie, and  I enjoy watching it. I don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure as I like it for what it did well, but I can see why people don’t like it- it’s quite silly.

  • The Blockbuster Chick

    Awesome review, this is one of those horror movies I was curious to take a look at but I’m glad I saw your review of it first.  It drives me nuts when they have the old cliche of 1 person being completely oblivious to the events occurring around them when it’s blatantly obvious something’s not right in Whoville lol.  Anyway, absolutely loved the video and think you are a really entertaining reviewer 🙂

  • Goblin1001

    I am adopted, and the controversy is pretty stupid, since we’ve had plenty of movies like THE GOOD SON and THE BAD SEED about evil non-adopted children.  If all it takes is a movie to prevent a family from adopting, I doubt they would have made very good parents, anyway.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Well, the Bad Seed had an evil adoption plot in a roundabout way.

      I think the reason THIS got so much attention (granted, The Omen and Mikey were both controversial for other reasons) was because it was a story about an evil adopted kid, and you didn’t need to see the movie to know this. All people needed was to see the poster to know this, whereas, in movies like The Ring and The Omen, you need to watch the whole movie to know that they’re adopted. 
      It also didn’t help when, after the movie’s release, people started posting (hopefully) joking Tweets, Facebook posts, and Youtube comments along the lines of “Omg just saw Orphan am never adopting ever!” 

      Orphan also got flak for having the “child” have what appeared to be Reactive Attachment Disorder, which I think is pretty fair- watching this after watching a tape of Martha Welch “Therapy” (I use the term very loosely) causes an association I really wouldn’t want to make. I actually thought about using a clip of her in the video to make that point but decided it would be too upsetting.

  • Goblin1001

    Check out THE GODSEND if you haven’t seen it.  There’s a flick about a really evil adopted child–  Who really is a child!

    • FullofQuestions1

      I hadn’t heard of it before; just read about it on IMDB. That sounds like something I’d watch  sometime.

  • Moo

    If I recall correctly, there was actually a disclaimer on this video about your voice being less than your best. You might not be Cyndi Lauper, but your rendition wasn’t bad, Miss Full.

  • CBob

    Had to look up the attachment therapy thing, as I’d never heard of it before. The disorders it’s supposed to treat seem entirely plausible a far as I understand such things, but the therapy itself is eye-crossingly spectacular cracktalk. “Pseudoscientific” doesn’t adequately cover it: I’m not convinced the people who came up with… that… were themselves socialized well enough to understand how other people’s emotions work. And that’s coming from a guy who’s not at all well socialized himself. Damn.

    Good to know it’s not considered legit by the general psychiatric community.

    Also, at the end there, am I the only one who had a giggly mental re-dubbing moment of William Shatner/captain Kirk going “I have HAD eNOUGH of YOU!” over “I’m not your fucking mother!”?

    • FullofQuestions1

      I did some research on it for a school paper last year. As I said below, I thought briefly about putting in a clip of Martha Welch (I seriously can’t believe she was ever in practice), but as I can barely get through some of her taped sessions, I didn’t think it was something people would want to look at without deciding to Google it. 
      For people considering looking it up: It has a woman lying on top of what appears to be a toddler and screaming in the toddler’s face that he or she (I can’t tell by the haircut) has to give a kiss before getting a meal.
       It was actually used to “treat” autism a couple of decades ago- the idea was that the parent or therapist would stop the session of sitting on the person’s stomach or chest after the person gave in and made eye contact. Sickening. 

      Funny idea for a dub there by the way. 😀

      • chromesthesia

         Yes, because tormenting a child helps them learn to trust you >< Arg. Thank heaven's there's some folks who help kids with attachment issues who do NOT do things like that….

  • edharris1178

    It’s funny, but when I first heard about the film I figured the twist would be either she’s the spawn of Satan or a deranged dwarf.  And to be frank, I would have put money on it being the first option, I never thought it would really be door number two.  Just an inspired bit of lunacy in terms of plot twists.

    • FullofQuestions1

      The funny thing was that it was spoiled but not spoiled for me before I saw the movie. I was following all the TV spots for it, and rumors about the ending started flying just as the movie was coming out: “She’s a ghost!”, “She’s a demon!”, “She’s working for a serial killer!”, “She’s actually an adult!” By the time I saw it, I was still completely in the dark as I had no idea what to believe.


  • Jackie

    I’m confused about the “reasons why the kids are really taken away from their family thing”. Good review though.