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Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) is a devoted family services officer who is only too familiar with domestic horrors. But when she takes on Case 39, the case of 10 year old Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), Emily is disturbed. She breaks her own rules of not getting personally involved and when Lillith’s parents attempt to harm their only child, Emily offers her a temporary home. But harm seems to come to everyone who comes into contact with Lilith and Emily finds herself in a precarious and irrational situation.

Review by Louise Keller:
A deftly made horror thriller with plenty of scares, Case 39 may be predictable and somewhat heavy handed, but it ticks all the boxes for the genre. Christian Alvart’s excellent direction keeps the barrage of shocking events contained, while Renee Zellweger grounds the action with a credible and likeable central performance. Kindness and decency are the traits Zellweger’s family services officer Emily has in spades, but we discover these are not assets, when dealing with the possessed. There are a few questionable choices and some over-the-top moments, but as a genre film, there’s plenty to get under your skin and keep you glued to the screen from start to finish.

She lives her work as a family services officer, and Emily is buried in cases when the details for Case 39 arrive on her desk. ‘What are they doing to you?’ she asks the photograph of the pale, long-haired 10 year old girl Lillith (Jodelle Ferland) before heading to the house where the little girl lives with her strangely behaved parents. It is Emily’s sixth sense that propels her personal involvement into the situation, rescuing Lillith and personally looking after her in her own home until a foster home is found.

There are sudden noises, creepy music, unexplained occurrences and deaths. Grisly deaths. It’s a bit like letting a dog off the leash, the way Alvart slowly sucks us in before opening Pandora’s Box. Zellweger is as good as she has ever been here and Ferland is suitably sweet with a deadly coating. Bradley Cooper, with his usual light hearted touch is a great choice for Doug, the child psychiatrist and man in Emily’s life, and the bathroom scene in which he is confronted by his worst fears is one that you will not forget in a hurry. Things start to get inside our heads – literally – and soon Emily finds herself trapped like the fish living in her aquarium. If you squirm at the sight of blood like me, you may want to look away occasionally, but it’s all in the context of the genre and the impossibly tricky Case 39 eventually gets resolved to our satisfaction.

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CASE 39 (MA)
(US/Canada, 2009)

CAST: Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper, Crystal Lowe

PRODUCER: Steve Golin, Kevin Misher, Scott Thaler

DIRECTOR: Christian Alvart

SCRIPT: Ray Wright


EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt

MUSIC: Michl Britsch


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 5, 2009

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