Orphan: First Kill will hit theaters and on Paramount+ on August 19, 2022.
Orphan: First Kill by William Brent Bell is a mind-bending prequel on paper that defies its conceptual odds. Writers David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and David Coggeshall crack a code in Alex Mace’s story that somehow undermines expectations, despite revealing the plot in 2009’s Orphan. An escaped Estonian mental institution, a con man who steps in, her ruse as a missing girl now found – it’s all backstory carried over in Jaume Collet-Serra’s frenzied thriller. Not only that, but the alleged orphan’s chameleon trick has already been revealed in Esther’s identity. How could Bell recreate all that tension and ambiguity when we already know what’s happening? Smart and shocking, the answer is simple: he doesn’t.
Orphan: First Kill turns the clock back on Esther, despite actress Isabelle Fuhrman aging more than a decade and recounting the beginnings of the European convict in Connecticut. By pretending to be the lost daughter of Allen (Rossif Sutherland) and Tricia Albright (Julia Stiles), the middle-aged patient with a growth disorder takes on her role as a beloved child. It’s the same concept of Orphan, which gives us a sense of familiarity that gets knocked over quite aggressively, maybe halfway through Orphan: First Kill. A perfect family is manipulated by a criminal who passes as elementary school age as we watch in disbelief – but Bell’s production has more than one villainous trick up its sleeve. The American dream shatters again, but in a prequel that dissociates as hard as screen prodigy Gunnar (Matthew Finlan) pushes his fake sister away.
Fuhrman’s ability to tap into Esther’s childish mannerisms is on display now that the 25-year-old actress has to play 8 years old again. allegedly with minimal digital effects with regard to physical properties. Bell’s ability to manipulate Esther’s figure using lighting, body doubles, and specific shooting angles keeps Esther deceptively youthful when Fuhrman isn’t allowed to break her character’s playground costume. A significant obstacle to Orphan: First Kill is the credibility of an already ridiculous home invasion scenario, which Bell manages to execute through Hollywood magic. No fancy aging technology or deep fakes – Esther thrives on both Fuhrman’s portrayal of an American Girl dolly come to life and Bell’s transformative filmmaking techniques. It’s a welcome return to see Esther confuse and terrorize a prosperous household like a knee-high tormentor who laughs shyly and plays puppeteer with such sociopathic glee.
Care is taken to establish Esther’s villainous habits in Orphan, whether that be learning to paint her darkest thoughts in invisible UV blacklight colors or previous examples of a masterly devil manipulator. Orphan: First Kill functions as an information-packed prequel, but is best when it stands out in unexpected ways. It all depends on the appearances of Julia Stiles and Matthew Finlan, when the facade of the suburban royal family disappears before Esther’s eyes. A more stern tone about Orphan is thrown overboard, making Orphan: First Kill feel chaotically ambitious and banana pants unfathomable. To detail such victories in storytelling, spoilers are needed, so you won’t find any further explanation here – but understand it’s a joy to see Esther, Gunnar and Tricia tiptoeing around each other. Stiles fires all cylinders with respect for her Dexter role, fanning dangers that are not pure replicas of Orphan.
Bell embraces more of him stay alive and We Styles Here, which makes Orphan: First Kill more successful than his recent work on The Boy of Brahms: The Boy II. It’s never downright gruesome, but still unnerving in the blade’s development. Orphan: First Kill feels like a rampant ’90s relic like James Wan’s malicious, both brutally brutal and effectively unhinged as revelations unfold. A war of ruthless wit and betrayal rumbles in the Albright’s estate, barely the first chapter Orphan fans can predict. It would have been so easy to see precious little Esther tearing up another marriage from the inside – Orphan: First Kill closed the easy road, which is why it can feel like a new franchise development as it works backwards in areas thought to be that they were understood.
Yet there are struggles despite creative freedoms swinging so heroically hard. The prototype of the warm father of Rossif Sutherland feels underexposed as the patriarch comes out of his shell, only to head for heartbreak again. The overall finale feels light and rushed given the established stalemate, as Esther’s inferno payoff doesn’t quite match the excitement of her predatory behavior and what’s happening. Bell’s command as a director is appropriate, but never flourishes beyond an adequate shot selection that so lacks the extravagance and lavishness that Collet-Serra indulges in his horror projects. Orphan: First Kill is carried on by pitch-savvy performances and reckless screenwriting – other aspects struggle, especially before the film goes into overdrive once an explosive twist changes everything.