Case 39

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Consumer note: Originally filmed in 2006, released to US theatres in late 2010, but probably not one near you. It bombed. But it really does star Renée Zellweger, Ian McShane, and a pre-Hangover Bradley Cooper. So if you're in the mood for seeing one of those people, this DVD will do the job.

Ms. Zellweger plays Emily, an overworked social worker dedicated to investigating cases of child abuse. She's assigned the case of Lilith Sullivan, who keeps falling asleep in school. She can't sleep at home, because she's afraid her parents will do her in. And she's correct about that.

Emily rescues Lilith in the nick of time, and in an unusual move, takes Lilith into her own home. End of movie? Nah, we're only about 15 minutes in. As it turns out—spoiler coming—little Lilith is kind of creepy, and Emily begins to understand where her parents were coming from.

I don't want to gripe overmuch: this is a pretty standard and predictable horror thriller. Only one scene has any notable special effects. (I also watched the DVD's deleted scenes; they left another on the cutting room floor.)

Although Lilith has evil supernatural powers, their origin and limitations are left kind of murky. But doesn't the mere existence of evil supernatural powers necessarily imply that good supernatural powers must be around somewhere too? That insight never occurs to anyone in this movie, and they remain devoted to (mostly inadequate) secular solutions. If it were me, I'd take the Exorcist route and call in the God Squad.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 11:37 AM EDT