There comes a moment in the last act where I thought to myself "oh no, they better not take it there..." This was mere minutes before a major plot point was revealed. It was like the film heard me speaking through the television set and then offered up a scene to quell my fears. I could not help but breakout into a laughter. My laughter had nothing to do with the major revelation; it was all about my own warped limits.
Up to that point I had no problems with everything else I had witnessed. Bloody nightmare sequence at the beginning? Fine with me. Young girl being pushed off the high playground set? She had it coming. Someone being bludgeoned over the head? Rolled right off my back. Yet one allusion to a improper situation and all of a sudden I am up in arms.
Compared to Collet-Serra's last stab at horror, 2005's House of Wax, Orphan is a quite tame in the gore department. There are a few disgusting moments but nothing as excessive as what Wax had to offer. Though the lack of gore may put off some hardcore horror fans, the restraint that Jaume uses in Orphan actually works to the pictures benefit. It also shows that Jaume Collet-Serra is growing as a director.
At times Orphan plays like the film The Good Son. It spends a lot of time developing the characters, though the payoff is never as satisfying as you would hope. Orphan does have several things going in its favour though. Vera Famiga is good as the mother who uses the adoption as a means to abolish previous sins. Her scenes with Peter Sarsgaard work well in regards to establishing the history of their relationship. They were times when I found Sarsgaard's character to annoying at times. Mainly in the sense that he is a little too blinded by Esther's charm. He never doubts her for a minute, even when all signs say he should. This element, and the longer than needed running time, keep Orphan from being a memorable horror film. While it will entertain for a few hours, the only thing truly lasting about Orphan is the reminder of how lapse our personal limits are at times.