Orphan: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Orphan: Collector's Edition

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:

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Evil kid horror movies are nothing new and have been a staple for at least 50 years. The Exorcist, Children of the Corn, The Omen, The Children have all tackled the idea for generations, and there is a long standing precedent of the audience being “in” on the premise way before the characters in the film is, and the premise usually works due to the creep factor of an “evil kid”. However, 2009’s Orphan plays to that trope quite a bit without actually introducing any of the “creep” factor. In fact, it feels much more like a thriller than it ever does a horror flick for most of the 2 hour run time. I remember watching this back in theaters with my best friend while he was going through a divorce (as a good friend, I was the guy who went out to movies with him and had him hang out so he could get through it, so there were a LOOOOOT of films that I saw back in 2009-2010) and promptly forget abut it, only to get re-reminded when 2022’s Orphan: First Kill got released. Now Scream Factory has gotten the rights from Warner Brothers and re-released the aging 2009 WB Blu-ray with a new 2K remaster, and plenty of new extras to go around in a nice collector’s edition.

As I said above, “evil children” flicks are pretty simple at heart, though Orphan gives it a novel new twist that adds some mild enjoyment to the rather stale horror movie. In the aftermath of a tragic event, parents Kate (Vera Farmiga) and her husband John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide that it’s time to get back on the horse and adopt a child rather than try a painful pregnancy again. They find their little angel in the form of Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) at a local orphanage, and she seems to really hit it off with Peter. She paints beautifully, she’s sweet, and seems to get along with their young deaf daughter.

However, Esther has plans of her own. Soon after arrive she begins to manipulate the parents and children alike, and her own back story gets called into question. At first only Kate (a recovering alcoholic) starts to see the darker side the Russian girl, but soon the other children get pulled into her web of lies, deceit and violence and it’s not long before even Peter comes face to face with a monster hidden by the face of a child.

Honestly, Orphan is not the best horror movie, but it’s a decent enough thriller if you don’t have something better to watch. The real twist comes from a nifty sleight of hand with Esther herself, but is also a one trick pony as well (as the 2nd film pretty obviously showed when I reviewed it 2 years ago). On the surface it looks good for plenty of creepy moments, when in reality there are VERY minimalist creep factor going on. That being said, the film as a thriller actually works well enough. Vera Farmiga is great as the torn up Kate, and 12 year old Isabelle is impressive as Esther. Peter Sarsgaard and the kids sort of coast through the film, and the actual reveal and final confrontation near the end feel a bit contrived after the “shock” wears off.

However, the biggest hangup in the film stems from writer David Johnson’s ham fisted writing and dialog. I actually busted up laughing a few times at some of the cheesy lines that both Isabelle and Vera were forced to belt out. Even if you know the ending and the ultimate reveal of Esther being evil, they completely mustache twirl the characters throughout, with just about everyone saying really stupid things, or doing things that made NO sense (Kate and John’s intervention was almost hilariously nonsensical in how it played out. John would have to be one of the dumbest humans on earth to fall for it).


Rated R for disturbing violent content, some sexuality and language

Video: :4stars:
Orphan originally came out a on VC-1 encoded Blu-ray from Warner during the height of the format war, and Scream has supposedly gone back and given us a director approved 2K scan of the digital interpositive. The results are fairly solid, with a good looking image that outclasses the old disc pretty easily. It’s not going to give you night and day shocking differences between the two due to the slightly gauzy and teal drenched aesthetics of the film, but there are color and textural detail enhancements that definitely make the new disc superior. Given a healthy 32-36.3 mbps bitrate, the film really shines in the dark shots, getting rid of the nasty banding and crush that was so prevalent on the 2009 disc. There’s some minor artifacting here or there, but overall this is a nicely nuanced upgrade over the old WB disc (although I would have loved to have seen Scream/Shout! do a 4K UHD upgrade as well, but aw well).

Audio: :4stars:
The Warner Brothers disc came with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track as the main audio choice, while Scream Factory has done a re-encode in DTS-HD MA 5.1. While I would love for the new mix to showcase something crazy or more nuanced, this sounds VERY similar to the TreuHD track outside of some level boosting needed on the older mix (that’s pretty typical as DTS tracks tend to be slightly louder by default). The creepy ambiance is replicated quite nicely, with creaks, cracks, crackling flames, and score cues supporting the suspense come through equally good. Bass is nice, but never shockingly so, and dialog is clean and clear in the center as expected.

Extras: :4stars:
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Critics Emily Higgins And Billy Dunham
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Critics Mike Saunders, Jason Bolinger, Tadd Good & Bryan Clark
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Critics Chris Alexander and Ali Chappell
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Critic Heather Wixson
• NEW "Silent Story" – An Interview With Composer John Ottman
• "Mama's Little Devils: Bad Seeds And Evil Kids" - Featurette
• Deleted Scenes/Alternate Ending
• Still Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer

Final Score: :3.5stars:

Orphan isn’t a bad horror film, but it’s not a good one either. Best way of describing it is “perfectly satisfactory when you’re bored”. I enjoyed the premise of the movie, and Esther’s dual roles was a nice little twist from the usual “Evil Child” trope, but at the end of the day it was a fairly generic film that suffers from some hit or miss writing. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray looks a teensy bit better than the old Warner disc, and the added extras over double the extras of old. Solid release for a decent enough film.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Vera Farmiga, Isabelle Fuhrman
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Alex Mace
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 123 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 14th, 2024

Recommendation: Decent Watch

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