An Open-and-Shut Case

Open-and-Shut? Better just keep this one shut! Starring Renée Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Jodelle Ferland, and Ian McShane, Case 39 is a thriller film that tries to reel you in but ultimately fails to do so due to it’s hole-filled plot and predictability. It reminded me of the old great B&W classic The Bad Seed, but doesn’t come close to The Bad Seed‘s level. If you want a movie to take a girl to just so that she clings on to you, this is the one. They throw in so many of the “scary-make-you-jump scenes” that I couldn’t stop laughing at all the little girls who jumped at every single scare moment! That might almost be the best part of this film.

In this creepy, supernatural psychological thriller, Zellweger is a psychiatric social worker named Emily who is working very hard to save a young girl (Lilith) from her apparently abusive and sadistic parents. After a supposed success she offers to provide her a safe place to stay…her own home. After doing so, she finds that, just maybe, perhaps it wasn’t the parents who were the problem afterall.

The cast and performances in this film are pretty stereotypical, but still decent. I’ll be honest, I expected a lot more from the likes of Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane in this one. Zellweger did well in her part as Emily, and the change that the character goes through is what helps the story’s relatability. The best star of Case 39, though, is the young Jodelle Ferland who plays Lily. What is it about creepy children in scary movies?! She did an excellent job making you guess if she is indeed a victim or not. Back and forth!

This film does have several disturbing sequences, as expected. While it is not loaded down with gore, it is the elements of fear, suspense, and mystery that add to the unsettling feelings of some of the scenes. It is a little tough to watch the parents with the daughter, but the film uses these scenes to build a foundation for the remainder of the film. Other quick scenes wake you up as you start to drift with a loud knock or a quick clash of cymbals! But even with several “Oh, wow!” “jump moments,” it does get dull, boring, and predictable at times, which is why they tossed in so many of those “jump moments.” The ending is pretty much exactly what one might expect in a supernatural creeper such as this. Many reviewers online are praising this film, but I have to disagree. It’s just another one of Zellweger’s disappointments. (Some of her better performances being in Cold Mountain and Chicago). Worth seeing on dvd perhaps, or, for a fun date: (Whoever jumps the most buys dinner!) :)Other than that, keep this case closed. You’ve seen it before, possibly even 38 times before.

Thanks for reading!  

Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy watching!

 -The Sp1der’s Score:  3.5 out of 10 stars Case 39”

up next: review for Secretariat

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