Orphan: First Kill
I was in the mood to watch a horror thriller last night and so I did zero upon the new English film Orphan First Kill which is a prequel to the original smash hit Orphan. It pretty much does seem like a season of prequels. It was Prey, a prequel to Predator and now it is this. The one thing about prequels may well be to retain the essence of the original character with the motive to bring in new people to the existing franchise. Now this can head in both directions – either the prequel may well end up destroying the legacy of the original and subsequently its franchise, or it may well be successful to pulling the younger lot and introducing them to the franchise. I had watched Orphan years back and was absolutely intrigued by the banger of a twist which in retropect was a brave one. But at the same time I was skeptical about the prequel, on it being a mere cash cow. With a bit of hope and skepticism, I decided to watch and review the film Orphan First Kill, is it worth your time, stay tuned!
Story & Screenplay
A prequel to the original film Orphan, Orphan First Kill traces the journey of Leena, a dangerous con woman with a hormonal disorder, to eventually transforming into Esther. The story is decently interesting and engaging provided you do not go in with the expectations of a horror. Also, straight up if you would compare this film to the original, you may end up feeling disappointed. But if I had to look at this film individually, it has quite a decent storyline tagged to it. The screenplay standing at less than a 100 minutes means that it is a crisp watch.
The first thing that I did notice about the film was that it was poorly lit. I am a little uncertain if this was done purposefully to create an ambience of fear or whether done unknowingly but it somehow didn’t work right throughout. The opening sequence is decent enough to grab your attention where there is a small element of fear which grasps you psychologically. The moments involving the killings are a little unconvincing and probably a closeup shot may have been beneficial.
The drama keeps all its threads in check as it unfolds further. You are given a feeling of the drama being fairly predictable once the main storyline begins. You are quickly transported to a new setting where you are introduced to the main players and you do get a fair idea of where the drama is heading.
The biggest challenge for the makers would be to time that one big twist in the tale especially when the drama is predictable on either side of it. And here the twist in the tale does come into the story at the right point thereby changing the trajectory of the drama into a cat and mouse game. The twist is good and intriguing and I was hoping for more such surprises from there on. But all the cards lay on the table from there on, making the drama fairly predictable although consistently watchable. The final act could have had a little more buildup as it felt too simplistic but overall this is a decent attempt at penning a psychological horror. The only thing is that the horror quotient is low so do keep your expectations in check.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are adequate, nothing much to write or shout about them. The BGM is decent and does what is required of it although a better BGM would have been crucial in adding ambience to the drama. The cinematography is good but it could have been better in several scenes to evoke an element of fear. The editing is crisp and pretty impressive. Director William Brent Bell does a pretty good job here although the drama is fairly one-dimensional. The direction keeps the drama consistently watchable and engrossing right throughout.
The performances are pretty good. Hiro Kanagawa as Donnan, Samantha Walkes as Segar and Gwendolyn Collins as Anna have their moments to shine. Matthew Finlan as Gunnar is pretty good. Rossif Sutherland as Allen is quite endearing. Julia Stiles as Tricia is outstanding in a multi-layered role. Isabelle Fuhrman aa Esther/Leena is terrific with a towering presence and she does a brilliant job here.
Despite its shortcomings, Orphan First Kill is a decent prequel to the Original film Orphan which can be watched once.