Is it a question of case dismissed as dismal or file under ‘E’ for enjoyable for this Renee Zellweger horror? Dean Newman discusses his notes.
I’m pleased to report that this chiller delivers some quite fun and effective hebegeebes and is neither the disaster nor bore that I had feared. It may not be the most original horror thriller ever, taking various cues from the likes of The Exorcist, The Omen and even The Ring, but it certainly more than held the interest.
Zellweger stars as Social Worker, Emily Jenkins, who is handed the Case 39 of the title and discovers all is not well at the Sullivan household where 10 year old Lillith is being abused and threatened by her mum and dad. Things come to a head when a concerned Zellweger gatecrashes the Sullivan’s with cop friend, Mike Barron (Ian McShane) to see the 10 year old being placed in the families’ oven, in one of the film’s standout moments and perhaps cinema’s greatest fridge pummelling outside of Tom & Jerry.
Jenkins takes the child into care, but nothing is as it seems and playing temporary foster mum is far from child’s play (save for the Chucky variety) and events and deaths soon escalate, including an impressive insect set piece that does for hornets what The Amityville Horror did for flies.
The child prays and plays on people’s fears, adding a further dimension to the proceedings, but can Zellweger’s character face her fears and save herself, the people close to her and her own sanity?
Zellweger follows in the footsteps of the likes of Naomi Watts (The Ring), Jennifer Connelly (Dark Water), Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Return) and Julianne Moore (The Forgotten and the soon to be released Shelter) into the realm of Hollywood women headlining oh so creepy horror but thankfully this isn’t as painfully slow paced as the recent likes of The Unborn (shame on you David S Goyer) and The Return, both of which were painfully dull and slow. Note to horror writers and directors, just because The Ring was a slow burner and did good box office it doesn’t mean that slow equals worthy or watchable horror.
Sure, Case 39 is not without its faults and isn’t going to top anyone’s greatest horror movie list but it does have a couple of nice memorable set pieces, as mentioned above, some effective jumps and a fine supporting cast, namely in the form of Bradley (soon to be ‘Face Man’ in The A Team) Cooper and Ian McShane.
For me I found this piece of horror hokum as much fun as White Noise and other recent child horror fare, The Children and Orphan, the latter which also shares a thing or two with this Omen-esque relation. It’s certainly a fun frightfest and I found it far more interesting and engaging than how the ‘story’ in Paranormal Activity, which sound design aside was rather trite, unfolded.