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Case 39
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Reviews & Ratings for
Case 39 More at IMDbPro »

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84 out of 120 people found the following review useful:

A suspenseful film, full of threat and uncertainty

Author: Gordon-11 from Earth
22 January 2010

This film is about a social worker taking a young girl into her home, as the girl's parents tried to kill her.

Though Renee Zellweger is not particularly convincing as a social worker, she conveys her feeling of threat very well, making her stressed out character vivid. The plot is good, as at first it makes you feel so sympathetic and sorry for the girl, then it slowly prepares you for something entirely different. The story is so engaging and scary, that I wanted to see more of what's going to happen, yet I wanted to see less because it's scary. "Case 39" is successful in creating a suspenseful atmosphere, full of threat and uncertainty. I don't know why "Case 39" is having trouble getting distribution and and a release date, as I find it a very scary horror film.

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85 out of 137 people found the following review useful:

Actually pretty good.

7/10
Author: Glen_Quagmire from United States
20 January 2010

I checked this movie out after watching a trailer online and I gotta say, it delivered. It was a nice little surprise for this major horror fan. It didn't rely on the "jump scare" which so many horror movies depend on lately, although it had a few. It created a very creepy atmosphere that stayed til the very end. Given, this movie could've supported better acting (I'm looking at you, Renee) and directing but if you're looking to be entertained and a little creeped out for 90 minutes then check it out. It runs in the tradition of movies like "The Reaping" and "Orphan" where the child in the movie makes you feel a little uneasy the entire time. Defiitely one of the better straight to DVD movies in awhile. If you are a horror fan then this movie should put an evil lil grin on your bloody face. However, if you stray more towards romcoms and drama then go rent Love Actually or some other random terrible movie.

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36 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Predictable, but...

6/10
Author: Kellie Stewart from United States
11 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie we have seen before just written in different ways. A girl is suspected of being abused and the case worker takes a very personal interest in her. When the parents are removed from the situation, the girl begs for the love of the social worker, which she gets. Renee Zellweger does a decent job in this movie. I would not call it a horror movie. It is suspenseful, but nothing I thought was overly horrific. The little girl does a brilliant job playing the victim. Predictable, the social worker takes this child into her home pending placement elsewhere and finds that this little girl is not quite what she seems. She seeks out different methods to deal with the problem, but it ultimately ends up just like I thought it would. Not the worst movie ever made.

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37 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Nothing great or very memorable, but entertaining

7/10
Author: Argemaluco from Argentina
9 April 2010

Case 39 would have been a bit predictable even if the trailer had not revealed the mystery behind its story.For better or for worse, the story is an homogeneous combination of the well known elements we have seen on many movies which show kids involved on paranormal events.However, despite its lack of innovation, I had a good time watching Case 39, thanks to Christian Alvart's concise and dynamic direction and the competent performances from Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland and Callum Keith Rennie.

There are various elements in the screenplay we have seen in other movies.However, even though the story lacks of originality, Case 39 is entertaining, because Alvart created a good rhythm and some solid moments of tension.What is more, the story is well structured.

Zellweger made her return to horror with Case 39 after 15 years (since her unworthy appearance on the atrocious The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre).In recent years, she has created a very different image, but her performance in Case 39 feels realistic and effective.Ferland creates a good aura of threaten with her role; I liked not to see her trying to apparent evilness, because that is the point where almost all the child actors I have seen in the past in similar movies fail.And even though he has short screen-time, Rennie brings a good level of intensity to his character.As for the rest of the actors, they feel a bit bland.

In summary, Case 39 is nothing extraordinary or highly memorable; but I think it is effective for having a good time, and I recommend it because of that.

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47 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

loved it

9/10
Author: Khiari187 from United Kingdom
9 March 2010

After having been let down by many films recently this, and then newly released Triangle, have been a welcome release.

Everything in Case 39 is at least very good. Renne Zellweger is excellent as the empathic, Emily Jenkins. Really perfectly cast for the role and gives the film an underlying security, which for me at least, was needed. The young actress,Jodelle Ferland, is generally really good and at times, show stealing. She is in fact superb as the rather troubled youngster.. The chemistry between the two leads is what compliments what is a rather twisted but truly fantastic story.

The story paces itself perfectly and draws you into its sphere of horror with a soft hand and kicks you out with a firm smack at the end. The only sad thing is a lack of replay value. I just wish i could go back and watch it for the first time all over again..

Chilling and enchanting horror film, a must see

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44 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

Scary Horror Film that Deserved a Better and Darker Ending

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
26 August 2010

The dedicated social assistant of child service Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) has a huge backlog of cases of abused children to take care. However, her chief Wayne (Adrian Lester) delivers two more cases for her and Emily heads to interview the family of Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), the young abused daughter of Edward Sullivan (Callum Keith Rennie) and Margaret Sullivan (Kerry O'Malley). Emily finds the parents very weird persons and forces Wayne to summon them for additional interviews. Emily connects to the sweet Lilith and during the night, she feels that the girl would be in danger and together with Detective Barron (Ian McShane), they invade the Sullivan's house and find the couple trying to burn Lilith inside the oven. Lilith is sent to a child care and she asks Emily to adopt her. Emily requests to take care of Lilith and the girl moves to her house. Sooner Emily learns that Lilith is not as innocent as she seems to be.

"Case 39" is a scary horror film with great screenplay and performances. The bleak story begins in the direction of a drama, and out of the blue shifts to a suspenseful psychological horror film as has some common aspects with "Orphan". The end is not bad with the victory of the good, but this film deserved a better and darker ending. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Caso 39" ("Case 39")

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22 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Definitely a case of peaks and valleys.

7/10
Author: IheartCali5882 from United States
6 November 2010

I found it somewhat difficult to rate this film in all honesty. Some elements are surprisingly good, while others are just cliché'd and melodramatic. I enjoyed it overall and would have given it an 8/9 had there not been various glaring inconsistencies that were impossible for me to ignore. I've never been one to overly obsess about plot holes or implausibilities, but at times Case 39 doesn't even bother to follow the rules that it's made for itself.

Renee Zellweger plays Emily, a child protective services worker, who ultimately saves a 10 year old girl, Lilly from her abusive parents. She takes a maternal interest in Lilly but problems arise shortly after having removed the girl from her home. At this point, even if you haven't seen the trailer (I didn't), you can guess where the story is headed. This is not a problem because it works in the films favor. The tension and buildup are excellent as we wait for Renee to catch up to where we are. We know what's going to happen and so it creates an uneasiness that stays with us throughout the entirety of the film. There are some genuinely creepy moments ( I think I counted 3), and a host of other cheap "jumpy" scenes that sometimes work and sometimes don't. The movie managed to catch me off guard a couple times, and seeing as how I'm a huge horror buff, I'd say that's impressive. More times than not, I can anticipate a scare, but there were some scenes that had me on edge.

The acting is adequate amongst all the principal characters, the direction choppy in places, the look of the film is beautiful. Once again I just had a problem with the factors that didn't add up. For instance, if a character is what the film says it is, then why can't it get itself out of the situation that occurs at the end of the film? By definition of what this character is, the laws that confine "normal" people shouldn't apply to it, right? Also the explanation for what "it" wants is very unclear and flimsy at best. Without a clear understanding of the motivation, without an answer to "WHY?", it left me feeling a little unstable about the whole story.

All in all, it's still a great way to spend a couple hours if you can spare them. I consider it money well spent. If nothing else, you will definitely be entertained.

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45 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

Great entertainment...case closed

9/10
Author: yellowporpoise from Germany
27 March 2010

When I watch a movie my main scale is: Did this movie entertain me? And "Case 39" definitely did. I am not really a fan of creepy movies, but I thought that the cast was good, so gave it a chance and I am glad that I did it. The script is well done, although it is not to difficult to imagine what will happen next. Yes you can predict stuff that happens, but I did not. I was involved in the story, was curious and could just enjoy the creepy atmosphere and the development of the two main characters, Lilli and Emily. The dialogs were fine, the acting believable. It is well crafted and for me, as I have mentioned before, great entertainment and I have enjoyed every minute. Well done, that is how movies should be done.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A surprise scary movie with two terrific performances

7/10
Author: secondtake from United States
29 January 2011

Case 39 (2009)

The clever plot isn't quite clever enough to keep you going through the whole movie, but almost. And both Renee Zellwegger as the passionate and trapped social worker and Jodelle Ferland as the adorable but mysterious child are quite amazing. Both are actors at the best of their powers, Zellwegger limited only by the role and the writing, which is very good but not quite flexible enough to let her show as many of those perplexed and touching nuances she is so good at (seen equally in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Nurse Betty"). But it's possible Ferland has the role of her life here. She's not only playing a precocious child, but is clearly a precocious young actress, bright, expressive, surprising, and not merely cute. By the way she was fifteen when it was filmed, even though she looks and acts, in most ways, like she's ten.

You can't ignore the plot, of course, since this is a plot driven movie saved by two great actresses, not the other way around. And the story is a little bit of a formula with a twist. The twist is good, but it is singular. Eventually we are carried from a personal and social drama with some evil people to a supernatural drama. It's here where things get scariest, but also where things wobble slightly in terms of believability or logic, if logic has any place here. For example, once the antagonist is shown to have really limitless powers of some kind (possibly imaginary), why does this person not have the power to just kill someone out and out? There is dangled the idea that this bad force depends on fear to proceed, but this isn't developed clearly, or maybe you have to see it twice to get.

On the other hand, if you just go with the flow, it's really increasingly scary. There are some scenes, like the woman in the hospital room that turns into a kind of large oven, that are chilling and really well done. Certainly Zellwegger's character is able to find the outlines of logic as she tries to survive by outsmarting the situation, and we're on her side. Eventually it comes to a dramatic climax, and it's pretty exciting. A sleeper, for sure.

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67 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

Case Closed

1/10
Author: Ali_Catterall from London, England
16 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Horror movie subjects, like celebrity deaths and buses, come in threes. Thus, trailing behind the latest rash of 'Bad Seed' pictures 'The Unborn' and 'Orphan' like some sulky teenager on a family holiday, comes the Renée Zellweger-starring Case 39 - another apparent anti-adoption screed from the director of 'Pandorum'. Clearly, Philip Larkin got it back to front, and Cyril Connolly was onto something: they screw you up, kids, especially other people's kids, while that pram in the hall almost certainly contains 57 varieties of pain. And little girls, of course, are absolutely terrifying. That's why Stanley Kubrick used not one but two of them in 'The Shining.'

The latest threat to homeland security is sad-eyed moppet Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). Despite whimpering that her hollow-eyed, crucifix-clasping parents "talk about sending me to Hell", Lillith's lank black hair is scraped back and tucked behind her ears, which everyone knows is movie shorthand for 'sneaky 'n' weird'. She also tilts her head sideways when she speaks, which even brain-damaged pitbulls dimly appreciate is the internationally-recognised symbol for 'run, run like the wind'. Now you mention it, she also shares a name with Frasier Crane's ex-wife, in turn named after a Hebrew storm demon associated with death, darkness and vengeance. All of which is lost on lentils-for-brains social worker Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger), who hauls her out of the kitchen oven after her folks attempt to bake her alive.

In a move even the filmmakers realise stretches credibility to twanging point, Emily temporarily adopts Lillith while she waits to be re-housed with foster parents who won't mistake her for a birthday cake. Unfortunately for Emily, what Lillith wants, Lillith gets. And what she really wants right now is an ice cream. Not just today, every day. See, this witchy cuckoo also possesses the ability to make people see and experience their own worst fears. So you'd better hurry up with that 99 Flake.

Before the first hour's up, Em's other cases and colleagues are slaughtering their slumbering parents with a tyre iron or being pestered to death by a plague of CGI hornets, vomited out of their every orifice. Meanwhile Em's barricading herself in her bedroom every night and attempting to burn her own house down, with the satanic little charge inside. "A damaged, deceitful, manipulative child is *not* a demon," insists grizzled, perma-tanned detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane). But can Emily convince her Barron knight that Lillith has got the very devil in her?

It sure seems as if Hollywood likes kicking foster kids under the table, judging by the haste with which Case 39 follows the controversial Orphan into the multiplexes. Or maybe the movie business has just put its finger on a hot topic of the day: horror movies are always monkeying around with contemporary fears and prejudices (it makes their case stronger). But is the concept of adoption actually becoming anathema to North Americans?

This July the Washington Post reported that the number of foster children being adopted in D.C. was "falling precipitously". And if a former Child and Family Services Agency staffer suggested "difficult cases" (over-twelves; siblings who didn't want to be separated) as possible causes, a pro-bono lawyer claimed "the District frequently reduces the annual subsidy" for those deciding to adopt their foster children. Could there be some kind of 'anti-adoption conspiracy' at work?

No, just plain old economics: originally slated for release in August 2008, then subsequently held back twice, Case 39 has been forlornly gathering cobwebs in the proverbial filing cabinet for over a year. Understandably so - it's terrible. We'd be embarrassed too. Former Oscar-winner Zellweger hasn't made a decent feature in years, and this is no trend-bucker. So it's not hard to figure out that when its producers saw Orphan cleaning up, thanks in part to the hype accrued via some knee-jerk lobbying (and - what a gift - a letter to Warner Brothers by concerned senators and congressmen who predictably hadn't even seen the movie in question), they quickly threw their own killer kid flick out with the trash. (Or rather they haven't - when this review was first written, Case 39 was going to be released any minute. Now, they've put it back AGAIN, for around the 6th time. Probably waiting to see how well Christian Alvart's Pandorum does first. Prediction: that'll bomb too. So, fellas, just how long do you think you can keep this up for?)

And make no mistake, Case 39 is diabolical; a laughable, wooden, hideously derivative pile of steaming demon poo. Horror films aren't exactly dainty when it comes to relieving other movies of their valuables, but Case 39 just ram-raids them out of the store: hell hounds (not to mention an entire premise) swiped from 'The Omen'; buckling, banging doors half-inched from 'The Haunting'; demonic possessions (and a friendly cop) purloined from 'The Exorcist'; a blight of stripey insects lifted from 'Candyman'; and accursed phone calls filched from J-Horror 'One Missed Call.'

Case 39 also asks for any number of other offences to be taken into consideration. While judging by the presence of Ian McShane and Adrian Lester, it has also pilfered its cast (hilariously and self-defeatingly billed in 'order of prominence') from a cosy BBC Sunday teatime drama. Bless our British actors all, but that's not a line-up that immediately inspires confidence in a horror movie: Bridget Jones and Lovejoy, together at last.

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