Case 39 was directed by Christian Alvart and written by Ray Wright. Alvart is unknown and while I can’t say he hasn’t done anything substantial as I haven’t seen anything else he’s done, I’m going to go ahead and say that this was his break through piece. The same can be said of Wright with the exception to The Crazies which he has written then screenplay for.
The film is about Emily (Zellweger), a social worker with a big heart and empty home. As with all women who go into public service, Emily is damaged by a mildly toxic childhood and has no real friends, family or love life to speak of. Already swamped with 38 cases of children with this that or the other wrong with them, she gets hit with, you guessed it, her 39th case. This case is about Lilith (Jodelle Ferland), who on paper is an antisocial, underweight ten year-old with a sudden drop in academia. Emily goes to visit Lilith and her family and is greeted by a situation that does indeed look abusive. Since there are no physical evidences to prove the child is being beaten, she’s left there. Don’t you just love the system?
Emily goes to visit Lilith at school after being repeatedly denied the go-ahead to remove Lilith from her home. Emily sees how visibly shaken and scared the girl is, so she does what any professional would do and gives her her home phone number. She calls that night apologizing in advance for falling asleep because they’re going to come get her. So of course, Emily goes to get her. She arrives just in time to rescue her from her parents baking her.
This is the oven scene. It’s worth a look. They really do try to bake her.
Okay so long story short, the girl is a demon and her parents were trying to send her back to hell. Instead Emily adopts her and Lilith ruins her life.
I’ve noticed from reading other reviews that the majority of fellow bloggers are being really hard on this movie. I really liked it, even more so after doing the research to find out who was behind it. IMDB is such a powerful tool. Know your stuff, kids.
The plot is well developed, the characters are dynamic, Ferland did a bloody brilliant job acting out the character change over from victim to villain. There were even a few scenes I watched on playback. I would not classify this as horror. There was only one scene that I felt frightened because of and I can give the credit of that to my womb drying up every time I think of having children. As far as a psychological thriller goes, this film is aces.
I wish the ending were more conclusive, but with most films of it’s actual (not intended) genre, they never are, and thus I am able to forgive.
My official rating:
as horror: **
as psychological thriller: ****