DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Martin Gray's film review of Orphan

First things first: this DVD's menus feature a montage of the various creepy facial expressions (and ungodly screams) of antagonist Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman). It is wonderfully unsettling – alarming, even – and perfectly establishes the mood for the film to come, although you might find it difficult to leave it playing on loop for long.

In interview, director Jaume Collet-Serra reveals that shooting gory scenes is more fun than it looks, indeed "one of the lighter parts of filmmaking". Producers Joel Silver and Susan Downey describe the attractiveness of a genre script with "great characters and great ideas" and, of course, a great twist, and sing the praises of Fuhrman. They also point out, almost unbelievably given the finished product, that the snow in the film was unplanned (but most definitely exploited). In a third, briefer interview, a bubbly Fuhrman enthuses about her role ("I just had to play Esther, I just had to"), while reassuring nervous viewers: "She's very different from me – I'm not evil, I'm not freaky." Phew.

Copy picture

It is easy enough to see why the extra scenes included here were deleted from the final film for reasons, mostly, of narrative economy, but their quality makes them welcome additions to the disc – and the alternative ending, though even more hyperbolic than the one that made final cut, slots right into a long horror tradition of the killer who just will not stay down.

At 14 minutes, the featurette Mama's Little Devils: Bad Seeds and Evil Children is by far the longest extra here, but it is also in many ways the least substantial. Key cast and crew members are shown commenting on the film, but only in soundbites – and soundbites that are not always articulate or informative (Peter Sarsgaard's contribution: "Uh, it's, er, y'know, it's a horror film."). Then two psychologists are reeled in to discuss the capacity in children for evil, while a potted history of the 'bad seed' subgenre of horror is offered by a trio of horror critics – yet all these attempts to expand the discussion of Orphan into broader cinematic and medical contexts end up looking like non sequiturs to anyone who knows the film's big twist.

Reviewed on: 30 Nov 2009
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Orphan packshot
She was meant to complete their family; she may destroy it.
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Product Code: OPTD1667

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1

Extras: Mama

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