People often question why a prequel would be made many years after the original movie was made. They also ask themselves whether it lived up to the expectations of the original movie. I have seen many prequels, and I’ve been impressed with some and disappointed with others. Orphan: First Kill just left me feeling neutral.
The first Orphan, from 2009, focused on terror and shocking discoveries. Orphan: First Kill adds in-depth detail and backstories about the discoveries in Orphan. It also lays out the foundation surrounding the evil Leena/Esther; Leena being her real name, and Esther being her imposter name. Isabelle Fuhrman is back as the evil and demented Leena, and this revival is one of the few exciting parts of the film.
In Orphan: First Kill Leena is in a mental institution in Estonia and she finds a way to escape. As a ravenous and evil person, she creates an escape plan from Estonia and makes her way to the states by pretending she is someone without parents, a girl named Esther. A family, the Albrights, takes her in. The Albrights include parents Tricia and Allen, and their son Gunnar, played by Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland, and Matthew Finlan. Esther begins exhibiting strange behavior and there are increasing signs of troubles, but she’s initially more mentally scary than violently scary. Mrs. Albright begins to realize that Esther may be an impostor and Orphan: First Kill becomes a cat and mouse game of questions and answers. The Albright family does not want to believe what may be true about their Esther, and the film begins to feel more like a big family crisis rather than a pure horror flick. So the disturbing factors are toned down many notches in Orphan: First Kill, compared to Orphan.
Director William Brent Bell has an eye for a chilling, child terror premise. One of the more bizarre features of the film is that due to a rare hormone disorder Esther looks like a child, but she is actually a grown woman. A woman who looks like a young girl is repulsive and scary for many, including myself.
The foundation of Orphan: First Kill is in tune with Orphan, but It was just a little too obvious—a girl who is a killer escapes and finds a way to be an impostor, and then tricks a family into taking her in. Fuhrman’s return performance as an evil princess type is again daring and beyond deranged in an enticing and haunting way. So although Orphan: First Kill is obvious, it’s still a fun adventure of suspense. Overall, though, I give the film just two and a half stars.