Case 39 (2010)
Directed by Christian Alvart
Written by Ray Wright
Release Date: October 1, 2010 United States
August 13, 2009 New Zealand
Starring: Reneé Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper
Budget $1M Box Office $28.2M
IMDb 6.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 21% Metacritic 25/100
Interestingly, this was a film I have wanted to see for quite some time. I think it was the idea of the creepy little girl because other than the movie Chicago, I am not a Reneé Zellweger fan. Yes, I know the whole “you complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire and that’s overplayed and completely unrealistic in love. But I’m going to leave that alone. This isn’t a daytime talk show episode I’m doing here.
Unfortunately, as I looked through reviews for this film, it seemed that nobody really liked it or gave it any kind of favorable review. But you know me. I am going to watch regardless of what the average review ratings are.
In this film we have Emily (Zellweger) who is a social worker. Her case load, as is all those of social workers, is outrageously beyond her capacity as one single human being. However, she does her best to do her job, which she sees is protecting children from abuse, neglect, and danger in and out of their home environment. That’s when she comes into contact with this one particular child, Lilith (Jodelle Ferland).
Now, on the outside Lilith looks and acts and seems very much like a normal little girl. It also appears that she is in an incredible amount of danger from her parents. Emily is assigned to investigate the circumstances at Lilith’s home and find out why her grades are slipping and what the problem is exactly between Lilith and her parents. Apparently there has been some emotional discord at the house and well, Emily is tasked with getting to the bottom of the issue.
While meeting with Lilith at her school Emily gives her her home phone number and tells her to call anytime if she needs anything or feels she’s in trouble. Emily gets this phone call in the middle of the night and upon hearing Lilith screaming on the other end of the line, Emily rushes over to intervene on whatever is going on.
Emily busts into the kitchen through the back door and finds Lilith trapped in the oven and both her parents fighting to keep her in and her poor little body struggles to get out. They’ve already turned the oven on as high as it can go so it is only a matter of time before the child’s airways are scorched and she dies. Emily springs into action and the good rescuer and after battling the parents for a minute, frees Lilith from the oven just in the nick of time.
Lilith’s parents are immediately arrested and sent to jail to await trial and such. They tell Emily that Lilith is not a normal girl, that she’s evil. They try to explain that this little girl is not a little girl, she’s a demon and she’s not to be trusted. Of course, Emily thinks they are nuts and they do in fact spend some time in a psych ward.
Meanwhile, Emily takes Lilith to her own home until the family services department can find her a permanent home. But since Lilith seems to be doing well, happy and healthy and thriving at Emily’s, the family services people don’t consider finding her a new home a priority. This is when things start to take a turn for the worse for Emily and her relationship with Lilith.
Emily soon learns that Lilith isn’t the sweet, charming and innocent child she seems to be. Once the truth is known, it becomes a battle of wills, a test of endurance, persistence and faith. The age-old battle of good against evil with the outcome unknown…unless you watch the movie.
As I said in the beginning, there were pretty much no favorable reviews for this film. I applaud Zellweger for trying to step out her comfort zone and expand her acting to other film genres. However, she falls just short of convincing as a terrified foster mother and victim. Although she seems to go to great lengths to show fear and always seems to have tears welling up in her eyes at every moment of the film, that’s about as far as her horror acting ability goes. I feel she is much better suited for the corny rom-coms and drama films.
Jodelle Ferland is spectacular at being a creepy little childlike thing. She reminds me of the little boy in the Twilight Zone episode called ‘It’s a Good Life’ where this young farm boy has incredible mental powers and can “think” anything he wants to happen into reality. Even the most unimaginable things one could think of, this kid does. This kid is able to materialize and terrorize those who live with him with these outrageous imagination creations.
Lilith is no different. She’s a “special” child with “special abilities”, to put it nicely. If we were to be blunt, this is a psycho evil little heathen with nothing but death and destruction on her mind until she gets exactly what she wants. She’s hard to fake out too because unfortunately, this little brat can read minds. So not good. So now, in order to win against her evil little ass, you have to be able to make her believe the opposite of the things you are thinking of doing to her.
Play complicated mind games much?
Anyways, I didn’t think the movie was as bad as the rest of the reviewers but it wasn’t something that I am going to rush to watch again. Even though I own it. But it wasn’t so bad that I would never watch it again. I’ll let you all make your own decision on whether or not it’s worth watching, let alone worth watching more than once.