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Case 39 (2010)



Average Rating: 4/10
Reviews Counted: 74
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 58

Director Christian Alvert has a certain stylish flair, but it's wasted on Case 39's frightless, unoriginal plot.


Average Rating: 2.6/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 0 | Rotten: 9

Director Christian Alvert has a certain stylish flair, but it's wasted on Case 39's frightless, unoriginal plot.



liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 67,113

My Rating

Movie Info

In CASE 39, family services social worker Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) thinks she has seen it all... until she meets 10-year old Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland) and the child's cruel and dangerous parents. Her worst fears are confirmed when the parents try to harm Lily, their only daughter. Frightened for her life, Emily enlists the help of Detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane) and takes Lily in while she continues the search for the perfect foster family. Just as it seems as though Lily is


Mystery & Suspense, Horror

Ray Wright

Jan 4, 2011


Paramount Studios - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (74) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (58) | DVD (2)

It's a bummer when the audience is smarter than the protagonist.

October 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Comments (3)
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

From a bevy of cheesy jolt scares (alarm clock! barking dog!) to the embarrassing sight of Zellweger and Ian McShane treating this Orphan-style B-movie silliness with grave seriousness, the film proves to be one hokey-horror riot.

October 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Comment (1)
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By the time the killings start, it's clear that Ray Wright's screenplay is more interested in following formula than in breaking new ground.

October 5, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (2)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The devil made them do it, but that doesn't mean you have to see it.

October 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter | Comments (2)
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Plays] like one more piece of multiplex in-box clutter, ready for the circular file in our moviegoing consciousness.

October 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Comment (1)
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An aggressively inept demon-seed chiller starring a bunch of grown-ups who should've known better.

October 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A soulless amalgamation of several horror classics, and marks another dud in the career of Renee Zellweger.

March 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Despite its initial premise showing promise, Case 39 turns out to be boring, predictable and nothing new.

November 9, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

The end of Zellweger as we've known her.

January 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

While it's able to pull you in at some points with its eerie mood, it needed a lot more originality and better scares than the cheap kind of just having things pop up out of nowhere.

September 23, 2012 Full Review Source:

[A] dumb thriller.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source:

...a decent little horror flick...

January 30, 2011 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Directed by Christian Alvart (Pandorum) with a less than giddy hand, Case 39 is truly terrible. But at least it scores a few 'so bad it's good' points.

January 26, 2011 Full Review Source:

Not only is Case 39 deplorable and morally off-center, the film is dull to boot.

January 16, 2011 Full Review Source: IGN DVD | Comment (1)

What starts out as slight and fairly obvious turns into a frequently colorful horror tale.

January 9, 2011 Full Review Source: FEARnet

...we get a couple of moments of genuine suspense combined with a whole lot of cheap thrills.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

What do you do with a crummy horror movie that has been sitting on the shelf for a couple, or maybe three, years?

October 30, 2010 Full Review Source: KWQC-TV (Iowa) | Comment (1)
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

... before the movie is half over, the usual cliches take over ...

October 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Its time to put the nail in the otherworldly evil child genre until someone comes up with something original. The only thing supernatural about Case 39 is its ungodly presence on this planet.

October 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

What do you do with a crummy horror movie that has been sitting on the shelf for a couple, or maybe three, years?

October 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Quad City Times (Davenport, IA) | Comment (1)
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Neither so awful as to be enjoyable nor eerily artful enough to be anything other than a snoozy also-ran.

October 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

in the meantime, director Christian Alvart went on to make the effectively moody "Pandorum," but this movie is a dud.

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

It's as lame as can be, and despite sitting on the shelf for four years, it's not even bad enough to be unintentionally funny.

October 8, 2010 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

Unremarkable except for its subversive subtext.

October 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

As demonic children movies go, it?s really not bad -- and the acting makes it seem a little better than that.

October 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for Case 39

While a Zellweger fan (and she does well here) this story about innocent looking and acting DEMON CHILD! has been done before and better, and hoping and wishing for a new wrinkle here won't make it real. Ahh, well ... better luck next time.
May 19, 2013

Super Reviewer

three stars
May 4, 2013
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

Edward Sullivan: They say when you're born you're given your eternal soul. The part of you that lives on, lives again. Whatever evil she is,didn't come from us. It was already there. From the moment she came into being, she brought something with her. Something older, destructive. Soul of a demon. 

"Some cases should never be opened."

Not as terrible as I expected, but I expected the worst. Case 39 is still just recycled parts from better evil kid horror movies, like The Bad Seed and Orphan. It ends up playing like a more entertaining form of The Good Son. It also has a lot of things that just don't add up when examined closely, but that is the least of its problems. The biggest problem the film has is that its target audience is going to hate it and find it repetitive in the least. The target audience for this film are the people who enjoy the evil kid horror genre. And guess what; we've seen them all. So this isn't going to cut it. When you try to make a movie like this, you have to come up with something new, strange, and terrifying to add to the formula. If you can't, the result will be a failure, like Case 39.

The sweetness of the little girl is played off terribly. I don't know if that is a result of her acting skills or bad writing. It may just be a combination of the two. To be honest though, the movie does have a decent start. It all goes downhill quickly though, because the writing is terrible and stuff just doesn't add up. Why would the little girl be afraid of telling the social workers about her situation because the father gives her a nasty look? She's the evil one. I know we aren't supposed to know that then, but damn have some foresight in your fucking script. 

There is some entertainment value in the movies awfulness. I can say I was never bored by the movie. I can also say that a lot of the entertainment I got from it came from me laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the scenes. I could talk about everything I hated in the movie, but that would take all day. Let's just leave it by saying it's bad. Maybe if you have never seen another movie in the sub genre, you will find it intriguing; but if you have, I would suggest skipping it.
June 14, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

It actually wasn't as awful as I thought it would be. Despite a fair amount of cheese and predictability, I stayed interested enough to watch the whole thing. Do not mistake this bone for high praise, however.
February 18, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Emily Jenkins: Are you scared?[Lilith is trembling] Well I'm not...
    – Submitted by Rawballs B (2 years ago)
    1. Wayne: I interviewed many children till now, but never felt like this.
    2. Emily Jenkins: How did you feel?
    3. Wayne: Threatened.
    – Submitted by Srikar D (3 years ago)
    1. Lilith Sullivan: What are you doing, you silly pumpkinhead.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Emily Jenkins: They say when you're born you're given your eternal soul. The part of you that lives on, lives again. Whatever evil she is,didn't come from us. It was already there. From the moment she came into being, she brought something with her. Something older, destructive. Soul of a demon.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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