You may remember Isabelle Fuhrman from her role in the first Hunger Games movie as District 2’s knife-throwing assassin Clove but many of you remember her as Esther Albright, a serial killing child who is far more than the eye can see.
It’s been thirteen years since “Orphan” was released with the very young Isabelle Fuhrman. Given the nature of the role, it will be hard for people to see how they can do another film 13 years later, especially an origin story. However, Paramount Studios decided to give it another go, this time telling an origin story of how Leena Klammer became a cult classic killer.
“Orphan: First Kill” stars Fuhrman as Leena Klammer aka Esther Albright, a 31-year-old killer in the body of a child due to hypopituitarism. Esther is a dangerous Orphan who kills her way out of an Estonian psychiatric facility. It is there that Esther travels to America under a new identity by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family. Esther thinks she is going to con the family out of a fortune and leave but unexpected to her, a twist puts Esther against a mother who will do anything to protect her family from the murderous “child.” The Predator has become the prey.
“Orphan: First Kill” does a pretty solid job of adding a new twist to an old story. The choice of making this film a prequel required an additional level of workaround given the fact that Fuhrman it’s much older than she was when she first did the role in 2009. A lot of camera tricks, de-aging, and body doubles were used to make the character believable in the setting. The fact that the character is far older than she pretends to be allows the filmmakers to work on that issue without being too jarring to the story.
What makes this film entertaining is how they turn the tables by making its antagonist into a protagonist. In the first 10 minutes of the film, audiences are established with the dangerous and manipulating ways of Esther when she kills her way out of the psychiatric ward in Eastern Europe. By giving you the false sense of security that this movie is about a psychopath killing innocent people, the midway twist of the film puts our killer in a vulnerable situation dealing with a family that’s even more psychotic than she is.
Evening the playing field introduces more entertainment value into the story making it a far better film. By flipping the dynamic, audiences sympathize with a character who is cold-blooded in nature but the family in question is far more ruthless.
The film lives on the performances of Isabelle Fuhrman and Julia Stiles and the dynamic between their characters. The horror is far more psychological but doesn’t shy away from the brutality of Esther’s character.
For a film that is made for streaming, there is certainly a level of care and respect for the franchise that makes it an above-average effort and an enjoyable watch. Orphan: First Kill is a fun horror film proofing that Isabelle Fuhrman deserves more work as a leading lady.