Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Kerry O’Malley
Directed by Christian Alvart
Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment
It’s been a long road to get Case 39 available here in the States. You would have thought the film’s star power would have been enough to grant it an easy pass into theatres, but that was just not to be. The movie, which has been readily available on DVD in the UK for nearly a year now, finally made its theatrical debut this past October, well after director Christian Alvart’s other genre effort Pandorum (which was filmed after it) hit cinemas way back when. So what was the problem? Let us begin …
Case 39 tells the story of Emily Jenkins (Zellweger), a social worker who takes an interest in the case of Lilith Sullivan (Ferland), a child whom she fears is suffering from the abuse of her parents. Abuse that ends up turning deadly. After being taken away from her apparently psychotic family, Lilith ends up in the care of Emily, who’s seriously considering adopting the kid. There’s just one problem … this little darling is really more of a little devil, and the once clear-cut case of child abuse may not be as black and white as it seemed. It’s not long before a CGI effects driven body count begins to mount and Zellweger (while making that ‘I’ve had juicy lemons surgically implanted into my cheeks‘ face) ends up both questioning her own sanity and fighting for her very life. There are a few more twists and turns, but that’s basically the gist of it.
Before seeing this flick, I had heard wretched and terrible things about it. Couple that with the fact that I can barely stand the sight of Zellweger, and I’m sure you can understand why my expectations were impossibly low. To its credit the movie starts off with a bang, and the first act is home to probably one of the craziest scenes of a child in peril that you’ll ever witness. It will grab you and take you along for the ride, but unfortunately the ride is inconsistent at best. The acting is not the problem here. Hell, even Zellweger (despite her facial expressions) didn’t get on the nerves that much. Case 39‘s shortcomings come directly from Alvart, who seems unsure of himself the entire runtime. It’s like you just want to give him a nudge and tell him to go for it. By the end he tries to, but it’s too little, too late. Still, though, the movie did manage to entertain me on some level, and for that I give it credit. Is it good? No. Is it as awful as everyone had said? Not nearly. It’s one of those movies that is just there.
By now you can easily assume that the Blu-ray looks and sounds better than its standard definition cousin, and you’d be correct. But other than that, there’s nothing that really stands out about the Blu-ray package, especially since it shares the same exact bits of supplemental material with the DVD. Speaking of which …
Paramount has never been known for stacking its releases with extras, and Case 39 is par for the “Why Bother?” course. We get four cookie-cutter making-of featurettes that examine the film’s origin and various effects and a few deleted scenes that go nowhere and add nothing. At least it’s not a bare bones release, right?
Whether or not you ever choose to open Case 39 is up to you. There’s certainly no reason to go out of your way to do so, but in the end, despite being as forgettable as they come, it isn’t really that bad of a watch. Recommended as a time killer only, even though there are far better time killers out there.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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