Case 39 (2010)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

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

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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 on her way to a more loving home, under the guidance of Emily and psychiatrist (Bradley Cooper), dark forces surrounding this young girl come to light and, little do they know, their attempts to protect her will only bring on greater horror... -- (C) Paramount
Rating:
R (for violence and terror, including disturbing images)
Genre:
Horror , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Renée Zellweger
as Emily Jenkins
Jodelle Ferland
as Lilith Sullivan
Ian McShane
as Det. Mike Barron
Bradley Cooper
as Doug Ames
Callum Keith Rennie
as Edward Sullivan
Kerry O'Malley
as Margaret Sullivan
Vanesa Tomasino
as Javier's Wife
Mary Black
as Custody Judge
Domenico D'Ambrosio
as Plainclothes Cop
Benita Ha
as Therapist
Michael Bean
as Co-Worker
Lesley Ewan
as Co-Worker
David Patrick Green
as Chief Psychiatrist
Deejay Jackson
as Bus Driver
Taya Calicetto
as Young Emily
Alisen Down
as Emily's Mother
Darryl Quon
as Inmate
Fulvio Cecere
as Fire Marshall
Colin Lawrence
as Police Sergeant
Dagmar Midcap
as News Anchor
Fran Gebhard
as Coordinator
Bill Mondy
as Interviewer
Andrew Airlie
as Doctor
Sarah-Jane Redmond
as Barron's Wife
Charles Zuckermann
as Demon Person
Yvonne Valdez
as Mrs. Lynch
Paul Duchart
as Priest
Daniel Bacon
as Businessperson
Darren E. Scott
as Young Cop
Dallas Blake
as Detention Center Cop
Phillip Mitchell
as Lead Guard
Yvonne Valdez
as Mrs. Lynch
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Case 39

All Critics (74) | Top Critics (8)

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

Full Review… | October 7, 2010
Boston Globe
Top 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.

Full Review… | October 5, 2010
Time Out
Top 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 4, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 3, 2010
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 1, 2010
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 1, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Case 39

½

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

three stars

MisterYoda ?
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.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

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