Minimally creepy and all too conventional, Case 39 finally makes its way into theatres. The movie was filmed a couple years ago (2006) and for some reason it is only now seeing the light of day, in US theatres at least. Starring Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper (before he was a huge star), Case 39 really doesn’t do a whole lot that we haven’t already seen. It’s not particularly scary, it’s in no way original or innovative, it’s awkwardly predictable and to be honest, there’s not much I can think of in terms of reasons to see this film. Of course there’s the token ‘creepy and disturbed’ child, played fairly well by Jodelle Ferland, but aside from that, the film doesn’t offer much.
Case 39 tells the story of Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger), a social worker who is assigned to investigate the Sullivan family. Emily suspects that Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan are abusing their daughter Lillith. Emily’s suspicions seem to be confirmed when Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan attempt to murder Lillith.
Luckily their plan doesn’t work and Emily is able to intervene. She takes Lillith into her own home and starts to care for her. Pretty soon strange events begin to occur and Emily starts to fear that Lillith may not be entirely normal. As the movie progresses, Emily finds herself in a situation that is far more dangerous than she bargained for.
As mentioned before, everything in Case 39 just feels so routine. In such an over crowded genre, Case 39 really does nothing to stand out. It’s not an especially terrible film, there are a few genuinely creepy moments, but you still have to wonder, why would Case 39 even both with theatres, why not head right to disc?
Director Christian Alvart takes a bit of a heavy handed approach behind the camera and his direction is uninspired. He takes pages out of many other horror films and he doesn’t do anything particularly unique or interesting. The ‘evil child’ story has been done to death and putting out yet another rehash on the tale is a bit of an audacious move, at least give us something fresh.
The supposedly grisly death scenes all have little to no effect on the audience as they were all seen from a mile away. Everything is predictable and nothing shocks or surprises. The film also suffers from some dull production values and isn’t very well polished.
To make matters worse, most of the cast saunters through the film and no one is particularly engaging. Ian McShane, who plays one of Emily’s colleagues, looks as confused as to why he’s in the film as we are. A usually very capable actor, he makes his way through the film giving a less than average performance.
Cooper, who wasn’t yet a star at this point, gives an honest effort but is still far from the Cooper we saw in The Hangover. Zellweger isn’t much better either, her performance is adequate for the film but like the others, it won’t turn heads.
In the end, Case 39 is just very mediocre, and with so many superb films out right now, there really isn’t much reason to see this conventional horror flick. As stated before, it’s not the worst horror movie out there, it’s just not original or unique in anyway and the predictability and conventionality make for a somewhat boring movie going experience.
Despite its initial premise showing promise, Case 39 turns out to be boring, predictable and nothing new.