“Case 39” was shelved by Paramount for three years.
This is of course not without a reason. The movie went straight to DVD a couple of months ago in Sweden where I live, and I must say I was surprised when I read “Case 39” would open theatrically in the States in October. Why?
“Case 39” was directed by young German director Christian Alvart, a guy who made a complete fool out of himself when visiting Fantastisk Filmfestival in Lund with his first movie — he behaved like he was a superstar, when he just was a kid nobody had heard about. However, that German thriller took him to Hollywood, and I guess he’s a rather competent director, but his movies are pretty crappy.
This one opens really good. The first 15-20 minutes are terrific. Renée Zellweger (in her first horror movie since “The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre” 1994) is an idealistic social worker who tries to save a little girl from her cruel, sadistic parents. This abused girl is labeled Case 39, and my, oh, my are her parents mean, cruel and sadistic. They actually try to stuff the little 10-year-old Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) in the oven when Zellweger and a detective played by Ian McShane break in and save the girl.
This opening is great. It’s not everyday we see adults trying to cook a little kid alive. Wow, this is going to be one nasty movie, I thought.
But I was wrong. You see, there was a reason Lilith’s parents tried to kill her. The wide-eyed, innocent looking girl is actually evil. She has supernatural powers. She makes people she doesn’t like see scary things that make them kill themselves. Bradley Cooper is Zellweger’s boyfriend, and he’s suddenly covered by insects. He dies early on.
Zellweger realizes Lilith is a little devil who needs to be killed, but it’s easier said than done. Who could kill a child? Well, in this case, I’d volunteer. Gimme a gun, and I’d blow the little creep’s head off. God, is she annoying. What’s worse than evil kids?
Correction: precocious kids. We all hate them. Lilith is both precocious and evil. And annoying as hell.
I’ve never liked Renée Zellweger. She always looks like she has a severe cold or a blunt object up her butt. I’m not the slightest bit attracted to her, which makes her a very bad heroine — I don’t care about her. The combination of Zellweger and a lame horror story does, of course, mean a movie Paramount put on the shelf for three years.It should’ve stayed there.
Hey, why not check out the Spanish classic “Who Could Kill a Child?” instead? It’s available on DVD.