She puts the entire family through hell with the cold detachment you'd expect from a serial killer, playing the parents off each other and even threatening poor Danny's distinctly male attachments with a wicked grin. It's more than a little unnerving at times, seeing this little girl do some distinctly terrible things. It's also faintly hilarious.
That's the divisive point here: Orphan is funny. Unintentionally, perhaps, but it's hard not to watch Esther go perfectly about her violent business without cracking a smile every so often. You might also enjoy the stunned laughter, a silent, breathless chuckle as your jaw hangs slack toward the screen. That one happens a lot. Every time Esther gets angry, for example, which happens about as often as you'd expect in a two-hour film.
It's all just ridiculous. Even before the earth-shattering twist — oh, the twist -- near the end, Esther does some pretty astonishing stuff, feats of subterfuge so incredibly brilliant and un-childlike that you can be excused for saying, "Oh, okay. Riiiight."
Right. That's what it comes down to — a horror film with some genuinely frightening moments, including an extended finale that would seem cliché if it weren't so edge-of-your-seat intense. It's also marvelously campy, a concept incredibly silly but still undeniably entertaining, a blast to watch and even more fun to discuss in subdued tones with your friends once the credits start to roll.
Oh. The credits? A montage of gruesome imagery, just the icing on top of the entire bloody cake. There's no particular reason for it, but you can almost imagine the directorial meeting that spawned this kind of thing: "You know what we need? More blood. Thick, syrupy finger nail polish as black as Esther's heart." You'll see what I mean.
And you know what? It works. It does the job just as well as every other part of the film, cementing Orphan in that hazy gray area between horror and comedy. It's fun to watch, fun to make fun of, and probably the most nonsensical thing you'll see all year — so what are you waiting for?