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‘ORPHAN: FIRST KILL’ REVIEW: a thrilling, albeit familiar, reworking of Jaume Collet-Serra’s contemporary classic

SYNOPSIS: After orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family.

Shall we address the elephant in the room first? Jaume Collet-Serra’s, frankly bonkers horror/thriller, Orphan worked perfectly well as a standalone picture and features a rug pull that’s so brilliantly WTF, it automatically became the yard stick by which any sequel or, in this case prequel, would be measured by.

So, how does the twist in director William Brent Bell’s (The Boy) follow-up compare?

Well, when it came, this reviewer said the following words out loud: “Wait, what? No way!” and then began to laugh (in a good way, mind). It’s more than a little surprising and a wee bit ridiculous, but it leads to some amusingly choice banter and face offs in the second half of the movie.

First Kill, basically works as a re-tread of the first film as after Esther’s violently bloody escape early in the film, she shacks up with her carefully chosen family, the Albright’s.

Fuhrman, who is now in her mid-20’s, still looks unbelievably young and, thanks to some neat effects work here (or witchcraft – ha!), still does a great job of convincing us that she’s still just a child. Gradually, suspicions arise, and with cop Detective Donnan (Hiro Kanagawa – Start Trek: Discovery) beginning to snoop around and mother Tricia (a deliciously entertaining Julia Stiles – The Bourne Identity) beginning to suspect that all is not as it seems, folk inevitably start being bumped off in unpleasant ways.

The only person that doesn’t see any problem is dear old dad, Allen – a perfectly cast Rossif Sutherland – whose life has been rejuvenated since his ‘daughter’ came home. The two bond over their love of painting and Esther begins to covet Allen in more than just a fatherly way.

This latter element, whilst so effectively disturbing in the first film, proves to be less so this time around as we know she is an adult. It’s also light on scares, with Brent Bell’s unshowy direction making this more of a thriller than a scream-a-long jumpfest; however, the welcome presence of Julia Stiles helps to elevate proceedings – in fact, she ends up stealing the whole movie.

Things end up neatly linking back to the original movie and overall First Kill is a fun ride that whilst unexpected, is certainly worth a look for fans of the original.

VERDICT:

Orphan: First Kill is available in Theaters and On Digital in the US and UK and also Streaming on Paramount+ in the US this August 19, 2022.

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