Case 39 Christian Alvart

Case 39 Christian Alvart
Promoted like a generic horror mystery, Case 39 handily exceeds those meagre expectations. Its quality won't surprise anyone who's been watching the career of German director Christian Alvart unfold. Antibodies is on par with Silence of the Lambs and Pandorum was an awesome, wrongly dismissed sci-fi horror mind-tickler. With Case 39, he applies his intense work ethic to the spooky-child genre. Renee Zellweger is Emily Jenkins, a social worker with commitment issues whose only social activity is dodging romantic advances from best friend Doug (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover, Midnight Meat Train). A particular case hooks the already work-obsessed Emily and she goes above and beyond to save a little girl whose parents plan to send her to hell. Callum Keith Rennie (Hardcore Logo, Battlestar Galactica) turns in his usual spectacular work as the girl's father, upstaging even the mighty Ian McShane (Deadwood) with a blend of menace, vulnerability and the kind of iron will born of utter despair. Zellweger's performance is generally strong, but she ends up with crumbs of scenery on her lips the further she's pushed into fear and rage. Cooper is well suited to the charming nice guy role, but there isn't a lot for him to do, other than with big, physical showpiece, with hornets (a well-paced, creepy handling of phantom insect phobia). Case 39 isn't especially gory, but there are a couple of shockingly nasty shots. Most of the tense atmosphere can be credited directly to Jodelle Ferland's performance as Lilith Sullivan. Expect to see a lot more of her where shivers are called for. A series of production features make up the bulk of the extras. Alvart's reputation as a meticulous, pre-planning, storyboard freak continues to expand, to the appreciation and admiration of his cast. Make up and practical effects peeks are cool, but the extensive deleted scenes are the real fascination, revealing some significant changes from the final cut. An unfinished sequence with McShane's Detective Barron would've made for a superior film, as would the much darker alternate ending that was likely axed by the studio. Proving once again that he can elevate any variation on the horror genre he touches, it'd be nice to see Alvart given carte blanche to make films worthy of his ambition. (Paramount)