Case 39


The parents of 10-year-old Lilith (Callum Keith Rennie and Kerry O’Malley) want to “send her to hell,” which must be why they’re digging that deep hole in the cellar. Called out to investigate a report of abuse, Portland social worker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) takes a shine to pretty and sweet but demonic Lilith (Jodelle Ferland), who comes to live with Emily after the folks fail in their attempt to burn their daughter alive in the kitchen oven (which is conveniently large). Director Christian Alvart (Pandorum) stages the kid-in-the-oven scene with gusto and also has fun with a death-by-swarming-hornets sequence a bit later, but one wishes that he’d brought a similar vigor to trimming down Ray Wright’s dull-witted screenplay. Case 39, which was reportedly filmed in 2006 and then shelved by unenthused studio execs, has some genuinely creepy moments. But it’s way too long and often slows to a crawl as Emily and her colleagues, played by Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane, talk, talk, talk about whether it could possibly be Lilith who’s prompting those around her to commit murder and suicide. Has there ever been a more inept trio of big-city caseworkers? Go ahead, Lilith. Unleash the hounds.

Categories: Movies