Case 39 (2010)

TMG Scale 8.0
Starring Renee Zellweger,  Bradley Cooper, Ian McShane
[TMG reminder: We only list the proven “stars” not all the principal actors]

This one is a winner.  Unlike this years  Let Me In, it proves you can couple real evil with a young child, not get too gross, and still scare the pants off of you.  For  the same reason that Devil this year also surpasses Let Me In, this film plays with your mind, not your stomach.

Zellweger, as Emily Jenkins, is outstanding as a sedulous and diligent social services worker.  Against her better judgment, she  falls for a little girl who, by all appearances, is terribly abused by her parents.  She slowly learns the little girl is just a bit more of a handful than she anticipated.  A cute and shy ten year old girl is not the expected place for you to find the Devil. But the more haunting question is whether the devil has found you.  They key here, as to any  real fear, is you have to believe in the reality of the threat.  It is why classics like The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976) or even The Shining (1980) can really besiege your sense of well being, while vampire movies are mostly fun.

The Devil, Satan or the Antichrist—take your pick of titles or concepts, plays on your weaknesses, not your strengths. This movie does the same. Bradley Cooper plays a child therapist who learns the hard way never to confess your true fears to the Devil, or perhaps worse,  to a very pretentious and hard to manage ten year old. It is a side role for the talented Cooper, but it is central to any story of possession. The message being that the real Devil attacks you indirectly. Only you can beat a head on attack by evil.

TMG was educated by the Jesuits. A few senior Jesuit Priests related to us stories of true possession and exorcism with incredible detail and credibility. If you believe in fallen angels, Satan and the Devil, it makes even fictional movies like Case 39 motive enough to put a crucifix back over your bed.

I have read the same old dinosaur era, print movie critics dissing this movie right and left.  This is the surest sign you should relish it. Old line, ex journalists masquerading as snobby movie critics are too far removed from real movie fans. Zellwegger was awesome. The story solid and the plot, while not novel, was convincing. Case 39 delivered.

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