Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Film Review: Case 39 (2009)

Case 39 (Review)
United States/Canada/2009
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Warner Bros.)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an effective slow-burn with an ominous atmosphere..."

Social worker Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) begins to investigate the case of Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), who's grades have rapidly declined and who's parents act erratically around...

Case 39 continues to follow Emily as she saves Lily from her parents. She forms a bond with Lily and pleads for the opportunity to take her in -- at least until they can find a suitable family for her. Unfortunately, Emily doesn't realize why Lily's parents were trying to kill her, neither does she realize the string of death she has unwittingly unleashed. The story plays out like a drama-horror hybrid with a lot of buildup and satisfying climaxes. It's not the most original story, but it is refreshing in this day-and-age. The ending was disappointing, though, very abrupt and even underwhelming.

Like I said, this isn't a traditional horror film, it's more of a horror-drama hybrid. It has a stronger focus on story, atmosphere, and suspense. If you've read my reviews, you know I love these types of films, like Bug and The Exorcist. However, the film also uses some jolting jump-scares, especially during the second half. I even jumped once or twice, and I think of myself as immune to jump-scares. All-around, I think Case 39 covers all horror bases, and it covers them thoroughly. Aside from the ending, I also felt the film was a little lengthy; some sequences tend to overstay their welcome and cause the film to occasionally drag.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Renée Zellweger was great, but I think Jodelle Ferland outshines her. Bradley Cooper is also great. The film is shot very well, I liked the cinematography and camerawork. The music blended very well with the film, and it helped build the tension and ominous atmosphere. Director Christian Alvart does well in blending the drama and horror to create an all-around effective experience; the ending feels rushed and there are some pacing issues, though.

Overall, Case 39 is a great film. It's an effective slow-burn with an ominous atmosphere, creepy tension, and some surprisingly great jump-scares; Jodelle Ferland also delivers a very impressive performance. It's one of the more overlooked horror films of the last decade, but well worth your time if you like the type of horror I described.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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