MOVIE: Case 39 (2009)

I’m not really a huge fan of the “evil child” horror genre, in part because once you’ve seen The Omen and The Bad Seed, there isn’t anywhere to go but down.  It’s very rare that anybody tries to do anything new with that story, and even when they do, they aren’t often successful (for example, I appreciated the idea behind the twist at the end of Orphan more than I appreciated the actual execution of that twist).

— NOTE:  SPOILERS BELOW (though if you have any brains, you will read on so you’re never tempted to rent this movie yourself) —

This movie, unfortunately, is about as boringly straight-forward as flicks in this genre tend to be.  Which is too bad, because despite the fact Renee Zellweger is, in my opinion, a painfully terrible actress, the movie itself started out pretty entertaining.  It began far more like a thriller than a horror film, for one thing, and even though I knew the evil-child thing was coming, there was a point during the first hour when it seemed like the filmmakers might actually be taking things in a new direction.

And then, bam!, they didn’t.  Man, I hate it when that happens.

The movie’s about a social worker, Emily Jenkins (Zellweger), who becomes obsessed with helping a little girl named Lilith she believes is being abused by her parents (one of whom is Callum Keith Rennie, Due South fans).   There’s no physical evidence, so Jenkins can’t do anything official, but her gut keeps telling her something is terribly wrong.  One night, she gets a call from a terrified Lilith that suddenly cuts out.  Panicked, Emily grabs her cop buddy, Mike (the awesome Ian McShane — and what the hell was he doing in this, by the way?) and heads over to Lilith’s house, only to find her parents have trapped her in the oven and turned it on.  Horrified, Emily and Mike save the girl and her parents get sent off to the local mental institution.

Emily petitions to get custody of Lilith, who seems like a sweet, quiet, damaged little girl in desperate need of saving.  But then weird things start happening — and soon, Emily’s friends start dying (one of whom is Bradley Cooper, Alias fans).  When it turned out those people were all getting phone calls “from a man” before committing what looked like a series of bizarre suicides, I had this moment where I thought maybe Lilith was innocent and either some actual man was following her around killing off anyone he perceived might harm her or, at the very least, she was possessed by a demon and therefore had no control over what was happening.

That might’ve been an interesting twist, I thought.  Especially having the evildoer be “just zis guy, you know.” (No, not Zaphod Beeblebrox). (<– joke only Douglas Adams Über-Geeks will get.)

Alas, that’s not where the movie goes.  It goes right where these movies always go instead.  And that lack of originality, coupled with Zellweger’s absolutely astonishingly lame performance, results in a movie you should never, ever spend ANY money on.

You’re welcome.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Horror
Cast:  Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie



9 Responses to “MOVIE: Case 39 (2009)”

  1. sarah Says:

    Spoiler please.

  2. megwood Says:

    Really? What kind of idiot would ever rent this movie? I mean, you know, besides me.

    (Note about spoilage added, though.)

  3. sarah Says:

    No I meant please tell me how this movie ends.

  4. sarah Says:

    I never would have watched it, so I was happy to read your review, but now I just kinda wanna know what happens, even though its lame.

  5. megwood Says:

    Oh my god, hilarious. I thought you were scolding me!

    SPOILER ALERT!! (Just in case.)

    It turns out she’s this evil demon that thrives on other people’s fears — she isn’t a human being at all and never was. So, the moral of the story is: when a creepy little girl asks you what your greatest fear is, you should totally lie (though it should be noted that “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” is probably not a great substitute in this situation unless you have crossable streams and Ernie Hudson on speed-dial).

  6. sarah Says:

    Scold M-Dub?! NEVER.

  7. RogerBW Says:

    Yeah, the plot of this one was pretty obvious from the trailer.

    As I tend to do these days, I came up with an alternate plot from which the same trailer could be made. Same setup, but while the girl does have psychic powers she’s not so much demonic as terrified and lashing out (because her fundie parents have filled her with “weird powers are EEEEEEvil” bs and she’s trying to deny that all the strange stuff is anything to do with her). The first act is up to the oven sequence, the second is RZ going “odd stuff is happening, eek, is it the child” and the third is trying to establish an honest relationship. It would need a desperately good child actor, of course, and probably a better actor for the protagonist than RZ.

    Now that‘s a film I’d like to watch.

  8. Melinda Says:

    I didn’t even recognize CKR from the trailer!! But I’m afraid not even he could draw me in to watch this one. 😀

  9. Hollie Says:

    I’m glad you explained what the ending was, because I was almost tempted, too. Dude, this blog saves me so much money. You’re awesome.

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