Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • August 5, 2009
‘Orphan’: Beware the child with a clouded past
by Dennis Seuling “Orphan” harkens back to thrillers in which an adorable child is the cause of unspeakable terror and manages to methodically destroy people without remorsele. Think of Regan McNeil in “The Exorcist,” Damien Thorn in “The Omen,” or the blonde, emotionless kids with the creepy eyes from “Village of the Damned.” This horror sub-genre draws upon the common perception of children as lovable, innocent, and pure, making their demonic exploits all the more terrifying. “Orphan” begins with a nightmare, but its waking moments are far more frightening. Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) has suffered the loss of a daughter in childbirth. Fighting depression and alcohol dependency, she is seeing a psychiatrist and trying to put her life back together. Prompted by guilt and daughter Max (Aryana Engineer), who asks whether Mommy will bring home a sister for her, Kate and husband John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt. At the orphanage, one girl stands out. Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) is a perfect young lady, converses intelligently, has artistic talent, and charms both Kate and John, who decide to adopt her. The Colemans make every effort to help Esther feel part of the family. Shortly after her arrival, however, “accidents” occur and she seems to be in the vicinity every time. Director Jaume Collet-Serra takes an old formula, dusts it off, and adds several new spins for a riveting tale that is totally involving, suspenseful, and chilling. He makes a point of avoiding many of the horror movie clichés audiences have learned to anticipate. When the creepy music swells and a character opens a refrigerator door, there will be someone standing there when the door is closed. Right? Wrong. When a bathroom medicine cabinet is opened and closed again, there will be a person in the reﬂection. Right? Wrong again. These moments are purposely set up as a tease with the director in effect saying, “In this movie, the scares are not the ones you think will happen.” “Orphan” is too smart for that. From its screenplay and casting to its carefully staged set pieces, the ﬁlm is a class act, drawing viewers in through concern for the family and their vulnerability in the face of danger they do not recognize. (continued on Crossword page)
Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga, left) has misgivings after adopting Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman) in ‘Orphan.’
SRYT’s sweet treat
Sarah Levitsky and Alex Formento as Charlie and Grandpa Joe in the Saddle River Youth Theater’s recent production of ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’ SRYT, founded in 1996, is an integral part of youth theater education and production in Bergen County. This non-proﬁt, 501 ( c ) 3 organization recently received a 2009-2010 Excellence Award from The Bergen County Department Of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. The team of dedicated theater professionals has sought to enrich the cultural and artistic enjoyment of theater audiences by bringing the Broadway experience to local communities. SRYT has over 140 shows to its credit, and offers a wide array of specialized workshops, including those covering auditioning techniques, acting for ﬁlm, and Shakespeare for teens. Students (ages 6-18) have an opportunity to participate in full-scale shows. Every child gets a part. SRYT offers year-round programming, including an August one-week day camp drama program, for students 6-16, and performances from SRYT’s Teen Workshop of ‘RENT: The School Edition,’ also in August. Information about these programs may be found online at www.SRYT.org or by calling (201 ) 825-8805.
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