From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Case 39 - D

Rated R for violence and terror including disturbing images, 109 minutes

Stale, unoriginal "Case 39" should be closed

If you haven't heard of the new horror-thriller "Case 39" you're not alone. Originally filmed in 2006, the film has been sitting on the shelf for a few years and it's easy to see why. Starring Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger, this "Carrie" ripoff is boring, dumb, overlong and wastes a talented cast. A decent premise isn't fully explored while other moments are just laughable.

Zellweger is case worker Emily Jenkins. Her most recent case, her 39th, is investigating the family Lilly (Jodelle Ferland). Her imbalanced, somewhat crazy parents (Callum Keith Rennie and Kerry O'Malley) seem to neglect and Emily herself has overheard her parents want her dead. Emily and her friend Mike the detective (Ian McShane) arrive to Lilly's house just in time before her parents are trying to inexplicably kill her. Lilly's eventually taken away but persuades Emily to take care of her before being assigned a foster family. Emily realizes over time that Lilly has been hiding some awful secrets and that her real parents may not have been that crazy to kill her.

Ridiculously awful, hardly scary and just plain silly, the slow-moving "Case 39" does have a handful of creepy- jumpy moments but otherwise it's a waste of time. This will be included among Zellweger's worst films, "Case 39" showcases Zellweger's worst traits as an actress: her pitchy, whiny voice and squinty facial features. Directed by "Pandorum" writer Christian Alvart and written by "The Crazies" writer Ray Wright, it all goes laughably wrong early on in a slower-than-molasses first act. In the end, it rips off everything from "Bad Seed" to "Carrie" and doesn't fully explain why or how the girl is possessed or what her real purpose is.

Canadian actress Ferland (Bree in the "Twilight: Eclipse" film) provides the film's only real memorable moments, as the demonic young girl with the special ability to control the grown-ups. McShane is totally wasted in a brief part, as is Zellweger's real-life boyfriend Bradley Cooper, who has the film's genuinely fun horror scene involving a bunch of hornets. "Case 39" goes on way too long and the climax may instill a few laughs instead of thrills.

"Case 39," unlike a fine wine, has not improved with age sitting on the shelf collecting dust. Somewhere along the way (likely post-production and the awful editing) it's fallen apart into the mess that ended up on screen. No reason to see it unless you have some time to kill.