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Young married couple Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) are devastated at the tragic loss of their unborn child, a loss that has taken a toll on both their marriage and Kate's fragile psyche. When the couple decides to adopt another child they find themselves drawn to Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), at the local orphanage under the care of Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder). Almost as soon as they welcome the little girl into their home an alarming series of events begins to unfold, leading Kate to believe that there's something wrong with Esther-this seemingly angelic little girl is not what she appears to be. Concerned for the safety of her family, Kate tries to get John and others to see past Esther's sweet facade. But her warnings go unheeded until it may be too late...for everyone

Review by Andrew L. Urban :
There's something wrong with Esther - says the marketing tagline to this film, which sums up my response to the film itself. And what is wrong is the sledge hammer used to forge the film. It's not enough that everything is oversized and overblown but the filmmakers fall into the trap of thinking that more is better. We don't need three endings, guys.

I get irritated with most horror films (The Birds and Don't Look Now excepted), so it's not surprising I get irritated with this one, in which the adult characters - especially John the husband and father (Peter Sarsgaard) is infuriatingly stupid and stubborn and insensitive. Of course, most horror films have to have stupid characters who do things you and I would not do - or there wouldn't be a plot. But that's the challenge: make it real.

The premise is basically great: adopted little girl is not what she seems, and turns into manipulative witch with a serial killer's attitude. Girls whose evil side wreaks havoc are some of the most powerful and iconic figures in horror, and far more terrifying than big ugly blokes on a rampage. But the execution is flawed. Isabelle Fuhrman is outstanding in the role of the evil Esther, as is Aryana Engineer as the sweet little deaf and dumb daughter of the house. Jimmy Bennet is also great in the smaller support role of the brother Daniel, while Vera Farmiga delivers a range of emotions and expressions that draw us into the world of this troubled family.

But the screenplay and direction are heavy handed, adhering too hard to formula; and it becomes predictable too early. Oh, and there is a tad too much confusion about the previous death of the family's third child - stillborn or drowned in the lake?

DVD special features include additional Scenes - including a chilling alternate ending.

Published January 20, 2010

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(US/Canada, 2009)

CAST: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jimmy Bennett, CCH Pounder, Aryana Engineer, Margo Martindale, Lorry Ayers, Rosemary Dunsmore

PRODUCER: Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Downey, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Joel Silver

DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra

SCRIPT: David Johnson


EDITOR: Tim Alverson

MUSIC: John Ottman


RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes




SPECIAL FEATURES: Additional Scenes - including a chilling alternate ending

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: January 20, 2010

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