Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vera and Peter and Demonic Daughter, Oh My!

Swirling the print rags (EW) and movie trailer websites ( are peeks at the latest child-as-killer thriller, "Orphan," starring two of my favorite on-the-sidelines scene stealers, Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. You may recall that Farmiga dabbled in this exact genre not two years ago in George Ratliff's pooryly received "Joshua" opposite Sam Rockwell. This time out, the kid's a little older, the stakes are a little higher and Farmiga's costar is a little more Movie Buddy-friendly (Sarsgaard's had my full attention since his fiery, Oscar-worthy turn in 2003's "Shattered Glass").

Farmiga and Sarsgaard play a tragedy-stricken couple (they lost their last baby) who add to their growing brood (they've got two other kids) by adopting a nine-year-old girl named Esther. Esther's got issues that would make Damien proud and, before long, tragedy strikes the couple again at the hand of the wicked youngster.

Sound familiar? Of course it does, in an every-movie-involving-evil-kids sort of way. But Farmiga, insisting she's not a one-trick pony (as if we needed confirmation), claims that "Orphan" isn't your average "Omen" spawn, saying she "shrieked" when she finished the script and just had to sign on to do the film.

I'll agree that some parts of the trailer (such as an implied mother-kills-child accident and a much-emphasized "secret") look -- let's just admit it -- dramatically promising. But the rest of this project has a reeking generic odor, and makes me wonder even more why these two wildly talented thesps aren't nabbing some more um, prestigious, work. The pairing is exciting enough to make me eventually seek this one out on DVD, but not in theaters, a deal sealed by the silly, obligatory jump-scare that pops up at the end of the prevew. When the devil will that stop?

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