In Case 39, Renee Zellweger stars as a social worker who fights to save a young girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the girl wasn't the one who needed saving. I'm not sure what's scarier: the movie, or that Zellweger is still getting leading roles.
For those of you who've been reading my reviews for a while now, you know I'm not a Rene Zellweger fan. I even found her Oscar-winning role to be obnoxious. Case 39 continues to reaffirm my opinion.
Still, Case 39 is a film that had a lot of potential. Then again, lots of bad horror movies had potential if they were only scarier, creepier, gorier and more exciting.
The horror flick isn't terrible. After all, movies about creepy little kids can't be all bad. Case 39 has its high points, including the disturbingly innocent performance by 16-year old Jodelle Ferland (who was 13 when the movie was shot, however) and a few mildly intricate death scenes, including one featuring Bradley Cooper (again, shot before he was a household name).
As horror movies go, there have been much, much worse. Case 39 doesn't always hold your attention, but it does sometimes. When all is said and done, it wasn't the biggest time suck in the world.
But it wasn't exactly worth it. There's nothing in Case 39 that's exemplary or memorable; the movie comes and goes, delivering predictable sequence after predictable sequence. Any horror fan knows what's going to happen next; there's no real sense of suspense or tension.
The movie, at an hour and 49 minutes, feels long; had it been trimmed down to a much-more-horror-friendly 90 minutes, the pacing would have been improved tremendously and director Christian Alvart (Pandorum) forced to get to the point as soon as possible.
Case 39 would have been better had Ray Wright, who wrote the surprisingly good The Crazies, zeroed in on the simmering issues Zellweger's character is struggling with. They seem like an afterthought, something added when convenient, when they could have served to make the movie more visceral and psychological.
I question whether Zellweger would have been able to handle a more three-dimensional character as she isn't particularly great here. But hey, no point beating a dead horse.
The movie has its moments and is at times effective, but Case 39 is ultimately bland and completely forgettable.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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