There’s nothing like finding a jewel when you’re expecting junk.
I liked the 2009 psychological horror movie “Orphan,” which has a twist ending some audiences bought and others didn’t (I did.)
I was surprised to see a sequel 13 years later. I was even more surprised to find it’s one of those rare sequels that’s better than the original, with another absolutely bonkers twist that provides for dark humor and even more mayhem.
William Brent Bell (“The Devil Inside”) deftly directs this movie that stars, believe it or not, Isabelle Fuhrman again in the title role as Esther. Bell makes this illusion complete with clever angles, stand-ins and shots that make the now-adult Fuhrman appear to be the size of a child.
The idea here is that the violent Esther has escaped from an Estonian mental facility. She decides to present herself as the missing daughter of Tricia and Allen Albright (Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland – if you think he looks familiar, here’s a hint: He’s the son of Donald Sutherland and half-brother of Kiefer Sutherland.)
The family tries to explain away Esther’s weird and often inappropriate behavior. Right from the get-go, Tricia seems suspicious, and she keeps a careful eye on her newly returned “daughter,” as does the couple’s son Gunnar (Matthew Filan.)
What a great cast this is. Fuhrman is wonderful as the scheming imposter, while the always-enjoyable Stiles has a few tricks up her sleeve, too.
The screenplay is quite smart, and offers witty dark humor from time to time that brings it far above the quality of the usual stalk ‘n’ slash. Also, it has what may prove to be the finest use of a song this year – “Maniac” is perfectly timed here in a scene that’s worth the price of admission, as is the finale’s nod to the classic “Laura.”
Might this become a franchise? I support that idea, especially if Bell and screenwriter David Coggeshall are attached.
3 ½ stars
Rated: R for foul language, violence, gore and sexual situations.
Running time: One hour and 39 minutes.
At Cinemark, Davenport; and Palms 10, Muscatine; and streaming on Amazon Prime.
Watch the trailer here.