First Kill is a smart, tight film that fits perfectly into what the first Orphan film set up over a decade ago.
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David Coggeshall's script has more than a few tricks up its sleeve, including some jaw-dropping twists that I will confess I did not see coming. It makes sense — the first film had a jaw-dropping twist too, after all. The twist feels fresh and exciting here, and changes the entire film in a way that's wickedly enjoyable.
There’s a surprising amount to enjoy here, with director William Brent Bell (behind The Boy franchise, with its equally ludicrous premise centered on a haunted doll), making the smart decision to turn the unintentional camp of Orphan into intentional camp, alongside adding a dose of satire about the corruptive pressures of the nuclear family.
Orphan: First Kill is an almost impossible film to put your finger on, walking that incredible tightrope between chintzy direct-to-video schlock and purposeful, delightful camp. It looks like a BBC production shot for $5, but that leans even harder into its Lifetime-movie-on-crack presentation (and lets you grade its moments of visual grace on a massive curve).
Offering the winning combination of a subversive spin on a well-established villain, Orphan: First Kill is a gnarly, wild and absolutely demented ride.
“First Kill” takes the best part of its predecessor — its camp value — and dials things up to 11, delivering a movie that demands to be seen at rowdy theaters and sleepovers worldwide.
The most disappointing thing about the film is that it has none of the spark or originality of the first one and just parasitically drains its source material, incorporating details like the creepy black-light drawings and the borderline paedophilic subtext without adding anything substantial.
William Brent Bell’s film proves that not every horror concept has the potential to be franchised.
Orphan: First Kill doubles down as a prequel about Esther but manages to feel so uniquely standalone thanks to some supreme storytelling swings.
What makes Orphan: First Kill worthwhile is that it acknowledges the original before taking a hard left turn into overblown soapy madness. The modern gothic of the first film transforms here into a perfectly fitting explosion of operatic schlock.