Case 39

Case 39 (2009)

Case 39 (2009)

A social worker steps in to save young Lilith from abusive parents that she says want to kill her.  But young Lilith may not be the victim we believe she is and there may be more to her parents’ action than we ever could have imagined.

Alerted to another case of an abused child, Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellwegger) interviews the family to find a creepy dad and subservient mother lording over young Lilith (Jodelle Ferland).  As she digs deeper, Lilith confides that she has heard her parents plotting to kill her.  Emily is forced to step in to save her, going as far as to take her home with her.  Emily’s world gets turned upside down as people close to her start to die and Lilith finds herself in the middle of it all.

Renee Zellweger does a decent job as social worker Emily Jenkins covering up for some uneven writing from someone who has probably never met a social worker.  Her motivations are all over the place and her dialog is completely non-believable.  But in her primary role as the force of good that must rescue young Lilith, she’s good.    Jodelle Ferland delivers the best “creepy kid” performance since Macauley Culkin in “The Good Son” – going from apathetic to downright demonic over the course of the film.  Ian McShane and Bradley Cooper serve well as Emily’s support network, but also suffer from uneven writing.  The other problem with the film – aside from the dialog – is that it doesn’t really DO anything.  There’s no really big twist, as we find out early on that Lilith is more than she appears.  As a result, all that’s left is to keeping upping the ante, making her action more and more beyond the pale as the film progresses – so we never really get a chance to “buy in”.  The truly scary stuff is cast off in an ever-escalating series of “one up” murder scenes that become more and more unrelatable.

This story has been told other times, and better, but this one has some tense moments and one or two startles that make it worth watching.

Stars: 3/5

 

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