The film plots a child's descent into madness without the guiding forces of a benevolent adult. After the mysterious nasty death of both his Roaring '20s party animal parents, young David is left in the care of his prudish, restrictive aunt, who refuses to let him indulge in his adolescent instincts. Written by
The producers of the Friday the 13th franchise, which began production shortly after this film was released, had to negotiate a settlement with this film's producers in order to use the title. See more »
The best compliment I can possibly give to "Friday the 13th: The Orphan" is that it's somewhat the grim and zero-budgeted exploitation version of the timeless genre classic "The Innocents". Surely it's a lot less stylish and atmospheric (what did you expect?), but the themes and general creepiness of both films are definitely similar. The problem, however, was that I totally didn't expect this to be such a film! With the two typically horrific terms "Friday 13th" and "The Orphan" in one title, the last thing I was preparing for was a slow-moving 1930's drama with coming-of-age influences and lectures on African culture. Still I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this film to explorers of obscure horror/cult cinema, just because it's so odd and unusual. There's very moody music during the opening credits, depicting a collage of pictures of a happy and seemingly unworried family. Of course, knowing the title this is only intended to increase the drama-effect. And yes, straight after the opening credits, the young boy from the photographs David is forced to kiss his dead father on the day of his funeral, while the obnoxious cousin yells: "ha ha, now you're an orphan!". After the funeral of his parents, David's aunt Martha invites herself to take custody over the boy. The relationship with Martha does't go too well, but David at least becomes close with her servants and turns more and more to the sinister African relics that his father brought back from his many trips. As said already, "Friday the 13th: The Orphan" is a very slow-paced and overly talkative cult effort. The drama sequences are quite intense, like the funeral sequence and David's flashbacks about his father (for example, the scene where he learns that his father and indirectly also his mother died in a stupidly banal accident), but it takes ages before something significantly unsettling happens. The first authentic exploitation movie murder only occurs at about 68 minutes into the film! More than one hour wait for a gritty murder moment is just unacceptable and dull. And, sadly, that's exactly how I'll always remember this film: dull.
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