Grave Encounters seemed to be a letdown as far as our witchhunt for ‘The Scariest Movie Yet To Be Watched’ goes. So we decided to do it again, this time trusting our instincts. We zeroed in on Case 39, a scary film with a creepy child involved – a plot no one can go wrong with. Did we succeed? *SPOILER ALERT: THE MOVIE’S PLOT IS DISCUSSED IN THIS POST*
Director: Christian Alvart
Writer: Ray Wright
Stars: Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane and Jodelle Ferland
The Plot : Case 39 centers on an idealistic social worker who saves an abused 10-year-old girl from her parents only to discover that the girl is not as innocent as she thinks. As a social worker, Renée fights to save a girl from her abusive parents. Later the situation reveals that the case is more dangerous than she ever expected.
The second movie in the quest for ‘The Scariest Movie Yet To Be Watched’ continues is Case 39. Renée Zellweger stars as the caring social worker helping abused children find better homes. Because of her complete involvement in her job, she manages to mix both work and personal interests. The story picks up when a routine case invoving just another troubled child turns into a nightmare. The movie also stars Bradley Cooper as a child psychologist and ‘the good guy’ in the film.
Like any good spooky film, the writer and Director make sure the film has it all – from empathetic characters to a child so innocent that it’s scary. However the film doesn’t have anything groundbreaking in form, technique or content like The Ring or The Blair Witch Project.
The story begins with the child-activist, Emily Jenkins (Renée) just pulling through her 38 cases. While she is barely making it across, her boss puts Case 39 on her desk and the journey begins. The case speaks of a sweet little girl, Lilith, who seems to be under some form of assault from her creepy parents. This is where the film gains respect and shows her parent to be complete nut-jobs. The film’s writer manages to stock everything you don’t want a little girls parent to be: creepy, violent and mentally ill. But I personally love a particularly disturbing and grim scene, when the parents plan to bake the little girl alive in their home oven. It is now when I feel the movie has its chance to creep the living daylights out of me.
I found the most intense scenes in the film to be the interactions between Lilith and Emily. Several scenes between the demon (yes, there’s a demon in this movie) and Emily have a chilling feel because one can’t see the face of the demon; it is just portrayed though heavy breathing sounds, and in one instance, the child banging on a door with a power of Hercules. I have to say that the new-age obsession with having demons disguised as innocent children is effective and a little discomforting.
I was enjoying the film till the demon shows its true form for the first time. This is what ruins a lot of movies for me, when they don’t make the demon believable. Most of the time the make-up is overdone and clichéd – blistered faces and torn clothes, like all the other ghosts in the past 300 odd films. In this film, it would have helped if they didn’t show the face of the ghost and just played the scene through a series of aggressive voices and other sound effects.
The movie also houses a set of deaths that have been covered in other movies. Like Brandon’s death by bees and the child mother’s psychological haunting in the asylum. In spite of having strong characters and a good storyline, it seems that the Director got lost between telling a scary story and just plain scaring the audience. The movie moves too fast in the second half, before ending abruptly.
Case 39 promises a good story and bone chilling moments, but hardly delivers to my expectations. I think you can pass this one.
DO: have a back up movie.
DON’T: get too excited and cancel plans for this movie, it sure can wait.