Kate and John Coleman are rebuilding their troubled marriage. Kate had a drinking problem, but is in therapy and is doing well. She has been sober for one year. The couple decide to adopt a child. When they meet the nine-year-old Russian girl, Esther, at the St. Marina Orphanage, they immediately fall in love with the well-educated orphan. Their young son, Daniel, is hostile to his new sister; but their deaf daughter, little Max, is enchanted with her - at first. Eventually, Kate begins to feel that Esther is manipulative and possibly even psychologically disturbed. John refuses to listen to his wife's misgivings, and the wounds in their marriage reopen. Kate calls Sister Abigail at the orphanage, and the nun informs her that Esther has a troubled and mysterious history. Kate delves further into Esther's past and discovers she is not all she pretends to be. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
After Kate enters "antisocial personality disorder" into an Internet search on her computer, as reflected in her glasses lenses, the screen immediately directs to a synopsis page clearly labeled with a different personality disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder. The two disorders are not synonymous. See more »
After the end title sequence, the rest of the credits are, among other things, smeared and splattered with fluorescent paint, lipstick kisses, and Esther's violent artwork. A small heart is also painted next to "John" (Peter Sarsgaard) in the cast list. See more »
Finally, a horror film about adults. Adults with complex issues and children that act like children and not hyper precocious sex models. The reason to see this film isn't to find out the over advertised " Esther's secret" of the film (a MAJOR misstep in marketing. Too many people now enter the film trying to figure out the "secret" before they normally would have been surprised), but rather to see a well-acted (extremely well acted by Vera F.)slow-building suspense story with excellent direction and cinematography. John Ottman's score also serves the film well, without becoming overpowering in signaling this is a "creepy" film. The actress who plays Esther shows a skill in performance that makes one think we may actually have another Jodie Foster to keep an eye on. This film works because we LIKE the characters (Rob Zombie please take note!) and fear for them and their survival. Dark Castle's best film, and it gives one hope that the horror/suspense genre still can be presented with intelligence and depth. Hollywood take note: we don't want a xerox of this film, but we do want more films that share this films strenghts: good script, likable real characters, excellent acting and nice, tension building direction.
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