Scream Stream: Why Orphan is an excruciating horror ride, even after multiple rewatches
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Scream Stream: Why Orphan is an excruciating horror ride, even after multiple rewatches

Orphan comes off as a psychological thriller but elements are horrifying enough without any ghosts (except the past) to make it an out-and-out horror flick.

Aishwarya Vasudevan
Oct 08, 2021
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The year 2009 saw Hollywood release a barrage of horrifying and thrilling horror films, and among them was the nightmarish Orphan. Jaume Collet-Serra directed the psychological horror film written by David Leslie Johnson. Alex Mace is the man behind the story which will leave tormented even after multiple rewatches.

Yes, the title is enough to join the dots about the plot of the film. But for the uninitiated, Orphan is about a couple who adopt a nine-year-old girl after losing their baby. They slowly discover that their new daughter is not nearly as innocent as they assumed her to be.

The film features Vera Farmiga, the hot favourite of the horror genre along with Peter Sarsgaard as her husband. While Isabelle Fuhrman played the role of the adopted girl named Esther.

The best thing about Orphan is Esther, and the shocking twist the writers brought to her character. The makers roped Isabelle who was then a 12-year-old girl when she played this role. The actor convinced the viewers during the shocking revelation that she can come off as a woman in her 30s who has hypopituitarism, a rare disorder that stunted her growth. Isabelle bagged the tag of 'horror icon' as she performed incredibly well as a dwarf sociopath.

Soon after knowing the truth and her cruel intentions, if you rewatch the film, it will make you squirm from the word go.

Her actual appearance while wiping off her face, removing her dentures and her wristbands scream ghastliness. It gives enough goosebumps to just pause to think, 'What just happened?!'


The film initially hints about children being evil and creepy, which most of the horror films are based on. However, Orphan drops the spine-chilling truth bombs which changed the course from evil children to adoption.

Yes, there were enough naysayers who slammed it by declaring it as an anti-adoption film. It is believed that this led the makers to even make a disclaimer wherein they advised viewers to consider adoption.

Collet-Serra, who also has House of Wax to his credit, didn't shy away from showing sequences that might have been inappropriate to be portrayed by children (before the Game of Thrones era). But, the gory sequences along with sex and murder fit the narrative in a hauntingly beautiful way. It took the story forward and made it a war between a grown-up woman protecting her family and a timid but evil woman who is posing like a little girl.


While watching the film, it urged me to know about the backstory of Esther (real name: Leena Klammer) and how the sociopath came into being.

After a decade, the makers have decided to bring a prequel to Orphan which is reportedly titled Orphan: First Kill. Interestingly, now 24-year-old Isabelle will be reprising her role as Esther in the film.

Orphan is available to stream online on both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix in India.

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