Horror (15) 109min
The current vogue for demonic children flicks doesn’t excuse the unwarranted release of Christian Antibodies Alvart’s long-shelved horror film, in which Renee Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, a social worker who adopts a malevolent girl with the ability to use her victims worst fears to terrify them to death.
Case 39 kicks off in distasteful style as Emily catches a couple in the act of stuffing their daughter Lillith (Jodelle Ferland) into a flaming oven. With Lillith’s parents quickly installed in jail, Jenkins takes on their responsibilities as the child’s guardian, welcoming the little girl into her house. Only when child psychologist pal Douglas (Bradley Cooper) offers to interview Lillith does Emily begin to understand why the girl’s parents were so intent on toasting her alive.
As Lillith dispassionately dispatches those who she dislikes, German filmmaker Alvart attempts a few Omen-style stunt deaths, ranging from swarms of insects to Ian McShane being mauled by a hellhound. But while creditably avoiding the usual supernatural trappings, Alvart’s unwise positioning of the story within a social work context makes Case 39 both ludicrous and morally dubious.
General release from Fri 5 Mar.