Girls in Horror Movies: Orphan

This week I’ll be talking about the 2009 psychological horror Orphan. Orphan focuses on a mysterious 9-year-old Russian girl called Esther who is adopted by the Coleman family. Isabelle Fuhrman, who plays Esther, does an excellent job of portraying an unhinged child who, despite having death follow her wherever she goes, just wants to be accepted and loved. The movie was panned by the critics when it was first released but personally, I think this movie is great.

It begins by introducing the slightly dysfunctional Coleman family who are struggling following the stillbirth of what would have been their third child. Kate and John (the parents) decide to adopt a child to help them heal their wounds. They go to an orphanage and find Esther, and immediately adopt her. Esther initially seems to be the perfect child, but she soon proceeds to manipulate the family and attempts to kill the other children РMax and Daniel. Esther does succeed in killing a nun from the orphanage who tells Kate to be wary of Esther, as well as a child she was playing with who appears to “accidentally” fall off a climbing frame. There is a major twist near the end (SPOILER ALERT) – it turns out that Esther is actually an insane 33-year-old woman who has a condition that has stunted her growth! I thought this twist was farfetched, yet incredible. I didn’t see it coming at all even though there are subtle clues throughout the movie.

In terms of Esther as a character, she is strong-willed and assertive. She easily manipulates other characters and carries out multiple murders without even so much as a single flinch. She’s incredibly determined to get her end goal – she wants to be loved by her new adoptive father, John, and she won’t let anything get in her way. By the end of the movie, she has killed multiple people including John, who did not accept her advances. Esther is an incredibly strong character and I almost admire her unwavering focus on her end goal – even if the end goal is decidedly creepy. The theme of a child being adopted and then all hell breaking loose onto their new family is often explored in movies within the horror genre. Honourable mentions include the very famous The Omen and a movie that was released the same year as OrphanCase 39.

Have you seen Orphan? What did you think? Comment below!

-Lexi Burrows
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.


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