What’s Wrong With Esther? Orphan (2009)

Loved by horror audiences, 2009’s Orphan is disliked by adoption groups and certain film reviewers. Let’s examine why, shall we?

First of all, take a look at the plot basic plot of Orphan: After losing a child in birth, Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a child from a local orphanage. Who do they decide to take home with them? None other than Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a charming, primly dressed,well-mannered and highly intelligent girl. She even exhibits considerable artistic talent. What’s not to love, right? As you probably already know, appearances can be deceiving, and you never, ever should get on Esther’s bad side.

Certain critics would already hate this idea, considering it predictable. I say, “Okay, but how else could this movie have panned out?” A tale of happily ever after? Maybe Esther could have become a little crazy, but soon learn her lesson? Nah! It wouldn’t have had the same effect, obviously. In fact, it might have sucked. I like Esther the way she is in Orphan.


When Esther gets bullied at school, she takes care of it. Maybe she doesn’t do it as gracefully as she could have, but she does something about it — broken ankle style. When faced with a bratty foster brother (Jimmy Bennett), Esther takes care of that, too, in a no-nonsense approach that’s sure to cause some squirms. Even a snooping nun (CCH Pounder) from the orphanage isn’t let off easily. You might say Esther really hammers her point home. I could say more about the story, but let’s just say that I liked it. Some critics don’t agree, but they can slither back into the abyss…

Or just get hammered.

Orphan is quite simply a kick-ass movie, made a lot better by Fuhrman’s acting. After seeing her play Esther, I don’t think of her as a child actor anymore. I think of her as an actor who happened to be under 18. In fact, there is no wiggle room for me on this one. It’s set in stone as far as I’m concerned. Yes, Esther is definitely the main antagonist of this movie, and I feel a bit sorry for the other characters here. They don’t do a bad job by any means, but there’s just no way any of them could have come near the main performance skillwise. She’s so good at playing bad here, I’m not sure I’d feel safe around Isabelle Fuhrman.

While Orphan understandably gets compared to The Good Son (starring Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood) and similar films, this movie can still be appreciated on its own. Then again, it might be a good idea to have a “killer kids” movie night sometime. PopHorror has even conveniently made a list of such films for you. Check it out!

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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