Friday 11 November 2022

Orphan: First Kill (2022)

"Supremely Entertaining Horror Prequel"

So who remembers ORPHAN (2009)? Jaume Collet-Serra's unassuming little horror picture featured Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard as a couple adopting nine year old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), who actually turned out to be a thirty-something psychopath suffering from one of those fabulous made up horror movie syndromes that made her only look like a little girl.

You don't need to know any of that to enjoy ORPHAN: FIRST KILL, a prequel that's careful to explain all of the relevant stuff in its first few minutes, leaving the rest of the running time to revel in what might just be the most enjoyable exploitation movie of the year. 

At the start of the film Esther resides in one of the worst (one presumes / hopes) Estonian institutions for the criminally insane, where the guards' qualifications seem to consist of unhealthy sexual proclivities combined with an inability to stop a small girl from beating them to death. Soon Esther is out and getting herself inveigled in a family in Connecticut, posing as their long lost daughter.

Somehow the family believe that during her four year period of absence she has somehow learned to play the piano and paint really well (very Bohemian these Eastern bloc child abductors) and we assume she is going to cause similar degrees of mayhem to those seen in the preceding film.

But oh no! Hang on just a minute! Because then ORPHAN: FIRST KILL takes an unexpected right turn so barkingly mad it's just short of brilliant, one which may well make it the most entertaining horror spinoff we'll see this year. I won't say what happens because discerning exploitation fans deserve to find it out for themselves. Add in some endlessly quotable dialogue, the husband of the family wearing the best underpants we will likely see in the cinema for some considerable time, and a tribute to Robert Aldrich's WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE and ORPHAN: FIRST KILL really is something special, and I do mean that in the best possible way.

The director this time around is William Brent Bell, he of THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012), WER (2013) and THE BOY (2016), all B-Movie masterpieces that are keeping alive a venerable tradition in horror cinema. Add in Interpol on the soundtrack and the perhaps inevitable addition of Michael Sembello's iconic Maniac (and by the time it comes on the discerning viewer will be thinking it would be rude not to) and ORPHAN: FIRST KILL might actually be more entertaining than the film that spawned it. If it had been shown at Frightfest the final shot would have brought the house down. If the same team do an ORPHAN III: EVEN MORE KILLS I'll be first in line. Signature's Blu-ray comes with a making of featurette.  Anyway, let's have a trailer:

William Brent Bell's ORPHAN: FIRST KILL is still showing in some UK cinemas, is available from Signature Entertainment on Digital now, gets its DVD and Blu-ray & 4K UHD release on Monday 14th November 2022 and the 4K UHD is coming out on 28th November 2022

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