Case 39 Reviews
"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.
It has to be said that after the build up of the story, the ending was a little disappointing.
The cast is good (particularly Jodelle Ferland), its the writing that is just horrible.
It is truly mindblowing just how many holes there are in throughout the plot.
I wouldn't go out of my way to see it...but if it came on some Saturday night while flippiing through the tv...
A social worker (Zellweger) fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.
Case 39 would have been a bit predictable even if the trailer had not revealed the mystery behind its story. For better or for worse, the story is an homogeneous combination of the well known elements we have seen on many movies which show kids involved on paranormal events. However, despite its lack of innovation, I had a good time watching Case 39, thanks to Christian Alvart's concise and dynamic direction and the competent performances from Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland and Callum Keith Rennie. There are various elements in the screenplay we have seen in other movies. However, even though the story lacks of originality, Case 39 is entertaining, because Alvart created a good rhythm and some solid moments of tension. What is more, the story is well structured.
Zellweger made her return to horror with Case 39 after 15 years (since her unworthy appearance on the atrocious The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre). In recent years, she has created a very different image, but her performance in Case 39 feels realistic and effective.Ferland creates a good aura of threaten with her role; I liked not to see her trying to apparent evilness, because that is the point where almost all the child actors I have seen in the past in similar movies fall. And even though he has short screen-time, Rennie brings a good level of intensity to his character.
The most important thing that you need to know about "Case 39" is that it's nothing more than a polished turd. It's not unwatchable by any stretch of the imagination unless, like me, you find Renée Zellweger quite horrific to look at but it isn't a very good film at all. Some people have compared it to last year's "Orphan" and I can see where they are coming from. Jodelle Ferland (who plays Lillith) is good but she's no Isabelle Fuhrman.
The best comparison you can make is to the "Twilight Zone" episode called "It's a Good Life" (which was also redone to some extent in "Twilight Zone: The Movie") and I'm surprised that nobody has picked up on it rather than going down the "it's just another evil kid movie" route. I actually read the short story of "It's a Good Life" back when books still held any interest for me and it was far more chilling than the TV episode. For those of you who don't know, the story was about a little boy who controlled a whole town because they were scared of what he could do with his telekinetic powers. "Case 39" just swaps the gender of the "bad kid" and turns her into a demon for some inexplicable reason. It's not original and it's quite disappointing to have a non-twist like that.
Anyway, not only was Renée Zellweger horrible to look at in "Case 39" but I hated her performance in it almost as much as I've hated her in everything else she's ever done including "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Yes, she's no stranger to the horror genre but nor are any of the other big players in this film. Ian "Lovejoy" McShane, who plays some kind of cop in "Case 39", has been in quite a few weird things including episodes of the "Twilight Zone" and "Chiller". Bradley Cooper, who doesn't get nearly long enough on screen and dies by CGI bees, was in "The Midnight Meat Train" (2008) of course, and even Callum Keith Rennie and Kerry O'Malley who play Lillith's parents have been around the horror TV genre for a while too. It therefore comes as no surprise that they all know what they are doing as actors and do the best they can even if every single one of them apart from Bradley Cooper was horribly miscast. Honestly, who in their right mind would try to pass off Renée Zellweger with her little girly voice and great big face as a social worker? I didn't buy into it at all. All I could think of was those horrible "Bridget Jones" films and how she's managed to slim down everything but her enormous head since. I'm sure she's a lovely person in real life but, as an actress, she just doesn't do anything for me. It troubles me greatly that I can't ever work out if she's supposed to be pretty or not and the amount of extreme close-ups of her fizzog didn't help.
I wish I had something more profound to say about "Case 39" rather than some superficial ramblings but it was a very superficial film and doesn't really deserve it. I suppose I should congratulate whoever wrote the script for a good first half and an atrocious second. Once Bradley Cooper's character dies, everything goes downhill. It's not like I have a man-crush on the guy or anything but that's just the point where you can feel the film change for the worse. Even Kerry O'Malley, who is actually very pretty without the haggard looking make-up, can't save the story with her pathos inducing performance. I think hers was the only character I even cared about in the whole thing.
"Case 39" could have been a really scary tale of the supernatural but it wasn't. If you really have to watch a humans versus a demon film then "Fallen" (1998) should still be your first choice. Perhaps if "Case 39" had gone for a similar downbeat ending rather than the one it has then it would have worked better but then I would have sat here moaning about that too.
I'm not even going to mention the gore since it was so sparse that if you blink you'll miss it. Horror doesn't need to be all about the gore anyway but it certainly does need to have a good story. Just throwing the occasional grisly moment in is just lazy and, unfortunately, getting too predictable. All "Case 39" needed was a cat jumping out of a closet and a lot more loud noises and I could have written it off yet another complete piece of formulaic crap. Actually, even without those elements, it still is.