Orphan (2009 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJaume Collet-Serra
Produced by
Screenplay byDavid Leslie Johnson
Story byAlex Mace
Music byJohn Ottman
CinematographyJeff Cutter
Edited byTimothy Alverson
Distributed by
Release date
  • July 21, 2009 (2009-07-21) (Westwood)
  • July 24, 2009 (2009-07-24) (United States & Canada)
  • October 22, 2009 (2009-10-22) (Germany)
  • December 30, 2009 (2009-12-30) (France)
Running time
123 minutes
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$78.8 million[3]

Orphan is a 2009 psychological horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by David Leslie Johnson from a story by Alex Mace. The film stars Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, C. C. H. Pounder and Jimmy Bennett. The plot centers on a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious 9-year-old girl.

The film is an international co-production between the United States, Canada, Germany and France, it was produced by Joel Silver and Susan Downey of Dark Castle Entertainment, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran of Appian Way Productions. Principal photography for the film took place in Canada, in the cities of St. ThomasTorontoPort Hope and Montreal.

Orphan was released theatrically in the United States on July 24, 2009 by Warner Bros. Pictures. Although the film received mixed reviews, Fuhrman's performance was lauded and positively received, with some critics compared her performance as Esther to that of Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed,[4] it grossed $78 million worldwide against a $20 million budget.


Kate and John Coleman's marriage is strained after their third child, Jessica, was stillborn; the loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is also recovering from alcoholism. The couple decide to adopt a 9-year-old Russian girl, Esther, from the local orphanage, whom John meets when she is painting. While Kate and John's 5-year-old deaf-mute daughter Max embraces Esther almost immediately, their 12-year-old son Daniel is less welcoming and rude towards her. Kate begins to develop a strong mother-daughter bond with Esther, she teaches her piano and reconciles with John.

One night, John and Kate reflect on their lives since adopting and how Esther is doing, they begin to undress and kiss passionately, and then proceed to have intercourse. John is happy to have their marriage strengthened again while Kate hopes to become pregnant again and bring another new baby into their extended family; however Esther walks in, interrupting the moment. Kate soon becomes suspicious when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than expected of a child her age, but John tells her not to worry about it. Soon, Esther demonstrates some hostile behavior, such as killing an injured pigeon and injuring a classmate at the park, to which Kate becomes suspicious of Esther.

When the head of the orphanage, Sister Abigail, warns Kate of bad things happening when Esther is around, Esther kills the nun with a hammer and pushes her body into a ditch and hides the evidence in Daniel's treehouse. Esther, having caught Daniel spying on her as she left the treehouse, interrogates him and threatens to kill him if he mentions anything to his parents. Kate becomes further convinced something is wrong with Esther, but John does not believe her; when John suggests Esther to do something nice for Kate, she brings her a bouquet of flowers intentionally from Jessica's grave, angering Kate and causing her to grab Esther's arm. Later that night, Esther purposely breaks her arm and frames the injury on Kate; the next day, Esther releases the brake in the car, causing it to roll into oncoming traffic with Max inside. When Esther points out the wine bottle she found of Kate's, John decides to take some time away from Kate, taking the children along before demanding a divorce from Kate. Kate later discovers that Esther came from an Estonian mental hospital and the orphanage Esther claims she was from has no records of her.

When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail's death from Max and searches the treehouse, Esther sets it on fire causing Daniel to fall and be knocked unconscious after trying to escape. Esther attempts to kill him but is stopped by Max. While Daniel is in the hospital, Esther tries to kill him again but he is revived. Kate realizes what Esther did but she is restrained and sedated after attacking Esther; that night, Esther attempts to seduce a drunk John, which causes him to finally realize that Kate was right about Esther all along. Kate gets a call at the hospital about Esther from Dr. Varava, and learns that she is not a 9-year-old child at all. Esther is actually a 33-year-old named Leena Klammer, she has hypopituitarism, a condition that stunted her physical growth and caused proportional dwarfism, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. Kate also learns that Leena has murdered at least seven people, including the last family that adopted her after failing to seduce the husband; the ribbons Esther constantly wears around her wrists and neck have been hiding scars left on those areas from trying to break out of a straitjacket. Meanwhile, Leena removes her disguise and proceeds to kill John, which Max witnesses. After Kate rushes home, Leena grabs a gun and attempts to shoot at Max in the greenhouse, but Kate breaks through the roof and lands on top of her.

Kate and Max escape to a nearby frozen pond, unaware that Leena is pursuing them. Leena attacks Kate, knocking the gun out of her hand and hurls them both onto the ice. Max tries to shoot at Leena, but shatters the ice, causing Leena and Kate to fall into the water. Kate partially climbs out of the pond, with Leena clinging to her legs. Leena hides a knife behind her back and, reverting to her little-girl persona, begs Kate not to let her die, referring to her as 'mommy'. Kate angrily responds that she is not her mother and viciously kicks Leena in the face, fatally breaking her neck and letting her body sink to the bottom of the pond. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.



Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard were cast in main roles in late November 2007.[5][6] Principal photography for the film took place in Canada, in the cities of St. Thomas, Toronto, Port Hope and Montreal.[5]


Orphan had its world premiere in Westwood, Los Angeles on July 21, 2009; the following day, it screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. The film was released theatrically in North America on July 24, 2009, it was then released in the United Kingdom on August 7, 2009 by Optimum Releasing.

Home media[edit]

Orphan was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 27, 2009 in the United States by Warner Home Video and in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2009 by Optimum Releasing; the DVD includes deleted scenes, and one alternate ending. The opening previews also contain a public service announcement describing the plight of unadopted children in the United States and encouraging domestic adoption.


Box office[edit]

The film opened in the 4th spot at the box office, making a total of $12,770,000, behind G-Force, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and The Ugly Truth; the film has since grossed a total of $78,337,373.[3][7]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 55% approval rating based on 152 reviews, with an average rating of 5.47/10. The site's consensus reads, "While it has moments of dark humor and the requisite scares, Orphan fails to build on its interesting premise and degenerates into a formulaic, sleazy horror/thriller."[8] The film also earned a 42 out of 100 rating on Metacritic, based on 25 reviews, indicating "mixed to average reviews".[9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Orphan 3​12 stars out of 4, writing: "You want a good horror film about a child from hell, you got one."[10] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also gave a positive review, commenting: "Orphan provides everything you might expect in a psycho-child thriller, but with such excess and exuberance that it still has the power to surprise."[11] Todd McCarthy of Variety was less impressed, writing: "Teasingly enjoyable rubbish through the first hour, Orphan becomes genuine trash during its protracted second half."[12] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote: "Actors have to eat like the rest of us, if evidently not as much, but you still have to wonder how the independent film mainstays Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard ended up wading through Orphan and, for the most part, not laughing."[13] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D+ score, noting: "Orphan isn't scary – it's garish and plodding."[14] Keith Phipps from The A.V. Club wrote: "If director Jaume Collet-Serra set out to make a parody of horror film clichés, he succeeded brilliantly."[15] Although the film received mixed reviews, Fuhrman's performance was lauded and positively received.


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2009 Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Movie: Drama Orphan Nominated
2010 Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival International Feature Length Competition Golden Raven Won


The film's content, depicting a murderous adoptee, was not well received by adoption groups;[16] the controversy caused filmmakers to change a line in one of their trailers from: "It must be difficult to love an adopted child as much as your own," to:"I don't think Mommy likes me very much."[17] Melissa Fay Greene of The Daily Beast commented: "The movie Orphan comes directly from this unexamined place in popular culture. Esther's shadowy past includes Eastern Europe; she appears normal and sweet, but quickly turns violent and cruel, especially toward her mother; these are clichés. This is the baggage with which we saddle abandoned, orphaned, or disabled children given a fresh start at family life."[18] There is a pro-adoption service message on the DVD, advising viewers to consider adoption.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Orphan (2009) | BFI". BFI. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "LUMIERE : Film: Orphan". Lumiere.obs.coe.int. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  3. ^ a b c "Orphan (2009) – Financial Information". The-Numbers.com.
  4. ^ Portman, Jamie (July 20, 2009). "Audiences Scream for Isabelle Fuhrman's "Orphan"". The Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on September 19, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (November 29, 2007). "Sarsgaard, Farmiga join 'Orphan'". Variety.
  6. ^ Barnes, Jessica (December 1, 2007). "Sarsgaard and Farmiga Join 'Orphan'". Moviefone.
  7. ^ "Orphan (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Orphan (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  9. ^ "Orphan Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 22, 2009). "Reviews: Orphan". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ LaSalle, Mick (July 23, 2009). "Review: Orphan". San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. ^ McCarthy, Todd (July 22, 2009). "Orphan Review". Variety.
  13. ^ Dargis, Manohla (July 24, 2009). "New Kid in the House, Clearly Up to Something". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (July 27, 2009). "Orphan Movie Review". Entertainment Weekly.
  15. ^ Phipps, Keith (July 23, 2009). "Orphan Review". The A.V. Club.
  16. ^ "Adoption groups angry with 'Orphan' stereotypes". San Francisco Chronicle. July 17, 2009.
  17. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (July 10, 2009). "Quick Takes: Uproar over Orphan movie". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Greene, Melissa Fay (July 15, 2009). "The New Movie Parents Hate". The Daily Beast.

External links[edit]