Case N39

  • 2009-08-19
  • By Michael Litvinsky

EMILY JENKINS: saving the girl she will later want to kill

Director: Christian Alvart

Despite the high budget and starry cast (Renee Zellweger, Bradly Cooper) new suspense 'Case â„–39' can only be compared to a second-rate '80s horror film, and feels more funny than scary. Surprisingly unoriginal, doubtfully filmed and diffidently performed, it doesn't make a good impression, either during the film or after it.

The rather simple plot starts with Emily Jenkins (Zellweger), an experienced and talented social worker fighting to save a little girl, Lilith, from her abusive parents and afterwards makes a decision to take custody of her, only to find out that the situation is much more dangerous than she expected. The girl turns out to be some sort of a supernatural creature (most likely a demon), that  turns Emily's life into a nightmare.

I regret to say that it is hardly possible to come up with a story more typical and common   than this one. Unfortunately it continues with no particular originality. A manipulative kid with superpowers begins to kill each and every human being somehow connected to Emily, frightens the  daylights out of her, but, of course, is killed in a dramatic scene at the end of the movie.

Surely noticing the lack of originality, the viewer rightfully awaits some sort of quality acting; besides, there are plenty of actors in the film capable of saving the picture with just his or her appearance on the screen. Still, even this natural wish from the consumer has gone unnoticed. Ms. Zellweger, despite all her skill, creates a hysterical, improbable or even anecdotal character (the one that is usually shown in a less classy movie by much less talented actresses), when all the rest of the acting crew is completely humdrum and/or unnoticeable.

A strange Hollywood tendency to make a monster out of a little girl, one that was actually pretty solidly executed in movies like 'The Ring' and 'The Grudge,' didn't come from the hands of the makers of this film. An unprepared viewer, after watching a couple of the latest Hollywood-made horrors (especially 'Case N39'), can seriously form an impression that everyone in the world should be aware of ten-year-old girls, because it seems to me that just about every third girl is an evil creature waiting to kill you. Why is it so hard to get rid of the children-monsters, and come up instead with some different villains, I simply cannot understand.

As is usual for these kinds of films, it includes way too much blood and violence, which actually stopped being scary about 20 years ago, and became simply disgusting. I assume that it is very hard to understand that blood, nowadays, can scare only children and the ones suffering from hematophobia.

The music and sounds are very common for a horror film, with a lot of high (mostly irritating) tones, filming with sudden appearances and changes of angle, predictable ninety eight times out of a hundred, and tons of other, less noticeable cliches, make the film not only unpleasant, but nearly impossible to watch.

The director, Christian Alvart, in my opinion did make a crucial mistake, forgetting the first  and only rule of a good horror movie: A good horror movie has to be original. An original story, an original villain, original music or acting. Just one of the several components will make the film worth watching. Forgetting this rule will lead to unpleasant and doubtful results.   

Opens in Estonia September 9,  in Latvia September 4, in Lithuania September 11.

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