Case 39: By the numbers

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CASE 39

By Matt Brunson

CASE 39

*1/2

DIRECTED BY Christian Alvart

STARS Renee Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland

Case 39 is one of those unwanted Hollywood bastards, a production that was completed years ago and has even been released in other territories but is only now making its stateside debut. Just how old is this picture? Let's just say that when filming began, David O. Selznick was still combing the country for the perfect Scarlett O'Hara.

OK, so I exaggerate by a decade or seven, but the point is that for this to have had a shot at succeeding, it probably needed to predate Orphan, The Omen and perhaps even The Bad Seed in the "evil that kids do" mini-genre. As it stands, its thudding familiarity is only compounded by its narratively limp and technically humdrum presentation. Renee Zellweger stars as a social worker who saves 10-year-old Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) from execution by her seemingly religious-wacko parents, only to eventually figure out that the adults were only trying to save the world from their demonic daughter. Along the way, cop Ian McShane demonstrates remarkably poor aim when it comes to firearms, child psychiatrist Bradley Cooper discovers hornets crawling out of every bodily orifice, and Zellweger manages to make a horror film that isn't even one-tenth as terrifying as her romantic comedy New In Town.

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