Movies these days rely more and more on the jump scare. I personally find that so annoying that writers are so lazy for a cheap scare they will constantly cut the music and have some jerk appear out of nowhere. How often does that happen in life? If you were a guy that snuck up on people with ninja stealth and then reached out your hand behind them when they least suspected it just to say stuff like “HEY BOB! CAN I BORROW YOUR STAPPLER?” you’d get teeth bashed in after Bob recovered from his heart attack. People generally make their presence known to prevent this sort of faux pas.
So enough prattle on the stupidity of the jump scare let’s talk about Case 39. It starts with the woman who looks like she’s been sucking on lemons her whole life Renee Zellweger. She plays Emily, a social worker who just got her 39th case. This case happens to be Lilith, played expertly by Jodelle Ferland who looks like at least she is stepping up her game from “Silent Hill”. Lilth is 10 year old living in a house with two people who are obviously not sane. But because of the red tape there is not much Emily can do to help Lilth.
After consulting her child psychologist friend and her cop friend about the case she pursues it a bit further. She gives Lilith, her phone number and gets a late night call for help. After a quick call to her cop friend they break into the house to discover the Mother and Father putting the child in THE OVEN to cook the girl like Gretel in the Witch’s house. I won’t even get into what a stupid way that is to attempt to kill a person who is still alive, scary as it is in concept.
The parents are caught and arrested. They get insanity pleas because their daughter is unspeakable evil. She causes death of those around her. Where have I heard about a kid that did that before? Oh yeah, “The Omen.” So after some runaround we have Lilith living with Emily. At first it’s peaches in cream. Then people start dying. A boy in Lilith’s group kills off his parents. Lilith then has a talk with the child psychologist that makes him spooked as if he just talked to Dexter or something. He goes home and because he is afraid of hornets imagines hornet swarms all over him until he kills himself.
Meanwhile in prison the parents have illusions plague them until they basically kill themselves. There is a lot of back and forth with the catholic cop who thinks Emily is crazy. You begin to see how screwed up this kid is and how she is actually demonic. There are some creepy effects and Jodelle plays it off well. Good and creepy. Finally the cop, the CATHOLIC freaking cop mind you, says he believes Emily and he will help kill this child. Wow. He might have to say a few Hail Mary’s for that one.
But Lilith kills the cop in the back seat of his car. This actually spurs Emily to drug the little girl and light her house on fire attempting to immolate the little bitch. She survives and they follow some police to find a place to stay. Deciding to try a new route Emily puts the pedal to the metal and goes through traffic like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Lilith, the demon seed, tries scaring Emily with illusions which don’t work. Finally Emily drives into a river. They struggle in the car. Lilith changes into a bestial creature and tries to take Emily down with her but Renee kicks free and rises to the surface. She then greets the sunrise of a brand new day.
It’s not a bad movie but it’s got a lot of “The Omen” in it. Too much if you ask me. The whole idea of a parent stuck with a demon child while friends are getting killed off by his/her malevolence is too close not to compare the two. “The Omen” of course was much more of a psychological terror too and really had a terrifying ending. This one leaves you on a happy note for the most part though I guess a sequel could always happen.
The biggest drawback was the constant jump scares. Someone would knock on a cubicle at an inopportune time, a pair of feet would show beneath a door she was looking under, or peek in a room only to see someone staring right back. But is that what horror is reduced to? I think there are much more scary things out there then some jackasses that leap out and go “boo” when I don’t expect it.