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Orphan, 2009 - Analysis
Transcript of Orphan, 2009 - Analysis
* Close ups:
In a typical thriller/horror, there is a heavy use of extreme close ups. However, in this trailer they are only used a couple of times. For when Esther is shouting – portraying her emotions of frustration and Daniel’s face, when Esther is about to suffocate him – portraying feelings of worry and exaggerate his tears. Although, the trailer does rely on medium close ups a lot, used at the start, middle and end.
An example from the start would be the comparison between Esther and Kate during their first meeting.I feel the use of the medium close up actually adds more verisimilitude into the narrative, as if this is the eye line match of the other characters. The two characters here seem very happy, mirroring one another’s emotions of contentment. Even the nurse says “you seem to have a connection”, supported by these shots. At this point, no assigned role of being against each other through protagonist and antagonist are established. In turn, helping to aid the tension behind the plot twist and tension for later on in the trailer, when the roles are evident.
The artwork is all produced by Esther.
- Kate and John first meet her, seemingly what makes them interested into her as the other children were playing, running around and with large groups of other children
- Placed between her doing too violent acts - painting and telling John/Kate about "it must be hard to love an adopted child...” Brings back the reality that she is actually a child and to remind the audience why they chose her in the first place.
- Then, straight after they show her paintings on fire - which burns the tree house Daniel is in, to distinguish the idea of her innocence once again, that she is in actual fact evil despite her childlike conventions.
- End scene, around Esther's room - they placed these in to show her true passion, a very childlike trait and interest. As it’s quite easy compared to a lot of hobbies. HOWEVER, they did not include anything about the true meaning of the pictures. About when a UV light is placed over them, they reveal her true emotions and feelings. Such as sexual desires with John or death of the family. They may not have included this as it would have given too much of the plot away, as her desired relationship with John is not focused on in the trailer, yet is the motive behind her actions against the family.
The film trailer begins with the production and then distribution titles, which are Warner Brothers and Dark Castle Entertainment. However, even though the title logos are still recognisable to the company, they’ve changed the design colour to match the horror/thriller genre. As well was complementing the genre, they also add to the narrative.
Foreboding an important part of the film with clearly adds a sense of thriller/horror genre, the secret drawings with a cynical meaning behind them- only shown by the UV light. For example, towards the end of the film you can see Esther's room covered in seemingly innocent drawings. Such a happy family home, yet when the UV light is placed over them, the house can be seen to be on fire with the ink of another pen – similar to the way Esther tried to murder her step brother Daniel.
Character Performance & Representation
I feel this is significant to include into the trailer because the Father accidentally discovers the drawings, particularly the indecent drawings of naked people performing sexual acts – which she tries to complete with him. Thus, resulting in the family beginning to fully understand the shocking nature of Esther.
The main title, ‘Orphan’, also hints the narrative towards the end of film. The world ‘Orphan’ is in toward serif writing, but looks as if the ink has smudged. This appears to look like the mascara that runs down Esther’s face after crying, that occurs after she tries to sexually advance onto the Father. Yet both of these title conventions are ambiguous or even unknown to the audience yet, but they’ll understand this after.
The titles are also very typical to most trailers, being animated, at the start of the trailer, short and centre framed – supposedly which most of the audience will understand. Allowing them to have information about the companies and title of the film, that they may then go on to find more about the film. Overall, the titles add to sense of eeriness seen in the rest of the trailer that audiences may be able to associate with a horror/thriller.
Scene 1: Meeting adoptive parents (not yet adopted, still in foster home)
- Esther is alone in the room, painting, as if secluding herself away from the others. Which makes her stand out to Kate, considering the other children are running around. Kate has maternal feelings towards her, as if they both feel secluded. Perhaps because of Kate's loss of a miscarriage which left her with post maternal stress (?). We first see Esther as being charming, innocent and admirable, which her adoptive parents fall for. Causing them to immediately want to adopt her. This act in carried on during the start of the film.
Scene 2: Meeting her adoptive siblings
- Esther now meets Daniel and Max. Esther appears as a typical child in this situation, optimistic and happy. She first meets Daniel, who is older than her. He also appears as a typical child, considering a new family member he's never known is being added into his family. He seems scared, apprehensive and not very welcoming to Esther. Max however is more like Esther, welcoming her straight the way. Of which is more typical from a younger girl wanting an older sister to look up to.
Scene 3: First Occurrence at School
Esther goes to school, which she is immediately picked on for her old fashioned sense of style. At first, she appears content and optimistic as she smiles at her new classmates, which doesn't seem unusual for child when moving to a new school. Her body language presents feelings of uncertainty and nervousness, through having her arms crossed across her chest and she follows closely behind her teacher. Again, expected from a child of her age in that experience. So far she is anchoring the typical stereotypes of an innocent child. However, when the other child, the bully, says an upsetting remark towards her - her attitude changes to portray child innocence but also subvert it. Esther’s face falls from her smile straight the way, appearing to grit her teeth in anger. This could be seen as a typical child when being upset, which the audience will understand to this point. However, after watching the whole film, Esther can be seen to subvert the innocence and show her true cruel nature direct towards the girl.
Scene 4: - Anger fit in bathroom
(This scene is played alongside the adoptive parents talking to a psychologist about her unusual behaviour)
The behaviour of Esther mirrors that of a child having a tantrum fit, kicking the facilities and damaging them. Her emotions are clearly rooted anger and frustration towards the other child. For the fact that her style was negatively commented against and she wasn't given the welcoming she was expecting and promised. Again, due to her secret identity this could also connote her feelings of frustration that she has hypopituitarism (hormones stunted during early years, causing dwarfism in children). So instead of looking like the 30 year old she should, she is in a 9 year old body, not allowing her to have accepted feelings towards the Father.
Scene 5: - Pushing bully school girl off of large slide
(This scene is quite long for a trailer, yet it works to establish the change in tone to innocent to evil)
If it wasn’t evident already to the audience that Esther has an evil nature, they will now because this is her first major violent action. You can see Esther stalking up on the school girl who picked on her, and pushing her off the slide. To which she lands on her leg, seemingly breaking it. This doesn’t really add anything to the overall narrative in the actual film, and could even not be included into the film and the trailer. Yet it’s successful in creating tension, which is crucial in thriller/horrors trailers for intriguing the audience
Scene 6: Esther looking over Max’s bed whilst she sleeps
Again, this scene is only small but it does add to the tone. As Esther wakes up the girl to go into the parents room – as she can hear them having sex, which is doesn’t like considering she wants the Father. I feel this scene was placed there more to match the next one. As Esther appears to look evil shadowing over Max’s bed. Specifically as Max embodies the theme of innocence.
Scene 7: Esther attempting to kill Max – letting the hand break off the car
From the scene above, it seems as if Esther has a hate against Max, which is probably built up because she is so innocent. Creating a sense that Esther is jealous of her. The shot-reverse-shot establishes the opposing innocence vs evil between the too. From Esther scorning at her to Max appearing scared and untrusting. Although Max doesn’t die, which is evident from the trailer as well, it allows the narrative to again build on the change of attitude from Esther. As before she pushed a girl off a slide, but now she is attempting to kill her sister – who admired her.
Scene 8: Diverted transition – back to innocent?
After including two violent acts from Esther directed to the younger children (and sandwiching it between another of Daniel) they decided to include a sequence of Esther painting – which she was doing at the start. So, from the start sequence of her painting until now, they both juxtapose. Forming a sense of transition in attitude and tone. The scene also holders the pace, which allows the dialogue of “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own” to stand out. As if they both don’t match together. In the scene before, she is trying to kill the parent’s daughter and in the scene after this, she is trying to kill their son. Also a method to create tension.
Scene 9: Esther Trying to Kill Daniel
In this scene you can see Esther trying to kill Daniel by setting the tree house of fire. The tone immediately changes through the close up of the fire and the screams from Daniel drowning out Esther’s former dialogue. They then include a shot-reverse-shot again between the two, of a long shot of Esther to a close up of Daniel to an extreme close up of Esther. Again, they both oppose the image of innocence and evil as well as establishing a shocking nature of Esther after once again trying to kill her siblings.
Scene 10: Esther staring into a smashed mirror
The next two scenes are in different order than the film.
Esther is seen with makeup smeared down her face, from crying and trying to remove the mess – causing it to smudge around all of her face. The mirror was broken in a rage, which she is staring into in some state of anger and madness. Here, she now full embodies the portrayal of evil and madness.
Scene 11: Esther tries to kiss her adoptive Father & is pushed away
The action in scene 9 is stemmed from her Father, who she loved more than a parent-offspring bond, after he pushed her away – in what seemed disgust. Yet, would be the normal and expected behaviour from anyone else in that situation. Esther seems hurt and confused, as if she doesn’t think anything is wrong with this. However, the audience will side with John, again making them intrigued to understand what made Esther do that and find her secret.
- In both scenes the dialogue “I love you Daddy” is played from Esther. Although this is innocent words and would be expected from a child, it is not in the context of the film. Creating a creepy, upsettingly tone
Scene 12: Murdering her brother, Daniel
Although both of the attempts from before to kill Max and Daniel are unsuccessful, Esther is now successful at killing Daniel. This is the only death we are certain about during the whole trailer. Even though 2 more characters, the Nun and the Father are killed. Ester is shown to be holding a pillow over her head as if she is standing over Daniel – who is in a hospital bed unable to move. She again here appears as very evil, unbothered and simply calm, as if wanting the Brother out of the way so she can be successful. (Considering he was the first one to have negative feelings towards her, then followed by Kate, Max and then finally the Father).
Scene 13: Another attempt to kill Max or just to scare Kate?
The creator decided to mix up the narrative again, as this is near the start of Esther’s true nature beginning to show. Max is leading behind a post near a road (in the film Esther tells her to keep watch whilst she kills the Nun). However, as Kate’s car approaches, Esther pushes Max into the road with force, making Kate nearly hit Max. It seems as if Kate does actually hit Max. We can see Kate’s shocked face as she tries to stop the car and then a close up of Max’s worried face. Suggesting a death is a way to attract more audience, even know this is only a near death in the actual film. So, which both the attempts from before and the only certain death being one – the audience will want to watch in order to find out the rest of the narrative and Esther’s motive behind.
---- Orphan Title ----
Scene 14: Esther jumping (violently) onto John
The trailer then ends with another suggested death – one which actually happens. John is seen to go up to Esther, to comfort her, but is greeted with her jumping up and scaring him. However, this is not how John dies, as this scene is from half way through the film. Esther only does this as joke. Yet when put with the soundtrack and other scenes, it seems violent. I feel the creators did this so the deaths are more shocking in the actual film, are hinted at and left for own interpretation – to which the audience will want to watch the film and understand.
Scene 1: Talking to Nun about adoption & watching children:
Straight the way you can see Kate’s attitude towards adopting, which is very unsure and nervous. She is leaning against the door with her arms crossed over the chest – which mirrors the behaviour from Esther when first going to a new school. However, after sitting and talking to Esther she appears to have calmed down and warmed up to the idea of adoption – if Esther. For example, her body language is more relaxed, as she leans in to Esther, welcoming the friendly conversation.
Scene 2: Walking out with Esther:
This is a small shot included to show how quick the relationship between the two have developed. Supported by the nun saying “You seem to make quite an attraction”. A close up of the two holding hands are included, as if they are actual mother and daughter.
Scene 3: In The background of Esther meeting Daniel & Max
Although there is more meaning through Esther’s perspective in this scene, Kate develops a typical optimistic portrayal. She is behind Esther, smiling at her children as they meet Esther, as she want them to welcome her as part of the family. It can even be seen that when Esther meets Daniel, Kate seems more worried for Esther as if she knows Daniel will not accept her. Yet overall, she appears as the stereotypical maternal mother
Scene 4: Kate trying to get to Esther but the door is locked
“Esther, what are you doing?” is played as Kate frantically tries to open the locked door of her bedroom. This is only short, but I feel it develops the portrayal of Kate being a maternal mother, but also that she is slowly developing unsure feelings towards her.
Scene 5: Kate & John go to a psychologist about Esther’s behaviour
Again, I feel this scene is clearly put in to show her worry and maternal instinct for the wellbeing of Esther, but also the development of her knowledge of Esther’s intentions.
Scene 6: A second psychologist, who Kate contacted, Give hers information
This seen shows Kate to be completely confused about the unknown information on Esther. The psychologist is telling her there is no known information about Ester being at the previous Orphanage – so Esther is lying about where she was when she first became an Orphan. I feel this is the starting point of Kate trying to find out what is wrong with Esther, and even start to resent her.
Scene 7: Panic after seeing Max in the car about to crash (which Esther caused)
Once again, her maternal instinct towards her own children and determination to protect them is seen. After she notices the car, she begins to run after the car. They even shown this in slow motion to connote the clear concern on her face.
Scene 8: Kate realises Esther is going to kill Daniel
“What do you mean she was in the hospital?!” Kate is shown as panicking and almost not being able to function as she is aware of the intentions Esther has. She is rushing around the house with her phone looking for things in order to leave and save Daniel – showing how she is a true protagonist and takes action to just do.
Scene 9: Kate running around house – away from Esther?
In short sequences and cuts, there are several scenes of Kate rushing about the house – for what seems is to get away for Esther and get to Max before anything bad happens to her. These shots are simply to add tension and portray the protagonist and antagonist going against each other.
Scene 10: Flashback to miscarriage – but seemingly from present
After Kate gets to the hospital to save Daniel – which she is too late, they include a short shot of Kate in the hospital bed during her hallucinated flashback from her miscarriage. However, it seems as if the scene is from the present. “What are you doing?!” is said by Kate, in which she is clearly in pain and worried.
Scene 11: Kate lashes out at Esther, Hitting her
After Kate is aware that Esther started the tree house fire, she then blames (rightfully) that Esther has done something to kill Daniel. When Kate hears the flat line alarm she immediately concludes it to her and shouts “WHAT DID YOU DO??” and lunges towards Esther. Connoting that Kate has finally drew Esther to evil.
Scene 12: Kate nearly/seemingly hits Max with her car
- Explained in Esther’s perceptive.
Narrative Applied to Todrov’s Theory – 5 states
- The Coleman adults decide they are ready to adopt
- They find a 9 year old Russian girl called ‘Esther’
- The girl settles in well with the family
2. The Disruption
- Esther is picked on at school
- Esther starts to get angry and turn to use physical violence, such as attempting to murder her siblings and harm others
3. Recognition of Disruption
- The Coleman adults go to a psychologist
- Esther kills the Coleman’s son
- Esther seemingly kills the Coleman’s daughter
4. Attempt to repair
- A psychologist from the orphanage contact them about Esther
- Kate begins to reveal Esther’s true intentions
- John also begins to reveal Esther’s true intentions
- Kate tracks down Esther
5. New equilibrium
- Kate kills Esther
- Kate and Max go to the police
The uses of the phone are all against Esther, as a way to stop her
- Girl jokes about 'Little Bow Beep' Texting her (generation)
Although the girl doesn't actually have a phone, considering her age and the fact she is in a lesson, the girl pretends to have a phone. In which she used against Esther to pick on her choice of old fashioned looking clothing. Establishes a sense of typical childlike behaviour, including bullying. Yet it also develops a theme that Esther is so different, and then vulnerable to bullying, so she isn't as strong as she thinks. However, because of this, Esther regains her power by pushing the girl off her slide and breaking her leg.
- Kate rings Orphanage Psychologist -
Kate is told information that adds to the case of Esther having something wrong about her. They tell her Esther was never in the Orphanage her mother supposedly left her in. So more Questions about Esther arise, adding to Kate worried state about Esther not being normal and having something against her.
- Kate rings family member about Daniel in hospital and Esther being there, learns she tried to kill Daniel.
Kate once again discovers information against Esther that her motive is to kill Daniel. This allows Esther to appear weaker, as a caught Antagonist and also allows Kate to seem like the stronger protagonist, now in the place to save someone. Although this doesn't actually work out, and Esther makes another plan.
By including a mobile phone, or contact from. The main plot is supported by including more verisimilitude. As it shows there is much more to the plot outside the main narrative and characters. It also allows information to be added into the plot in a sensible way, rather than the protagonist having to work hard for information that wouldn't add her to normal behaviour - again, making the plot seem more real.
Seen When: Esther burns her drawings in the children's tree house, creating a massive fire. (After the violence placed on Max and the school girl).
- I feel the main reason they used fire was to once again establish her use of weapons, as before the only violent acts used were herself, pushing someone and letting the hand break go. As although she is shown as violent before, by using fire it develops a sense that she is even more violent, using weapons to make a bigger statement. For example, fire has its own free will. It can start as a simple drop of a match and if given the instruments, can go as it as it will be allowed. So, Esther is allowing the fire to grow without her control - as seemingly any blame. The use of fire itself is also useful to mention the harmony of nature and children together, which Esther is manipulating. So, she used fire as a negative thing to harm someone, explaining her lack of innocence even though fire is involved. Yet it also shows nature having the power to harm a child, although not control. Considering Daniel is put into intensive care.
Seen When: Esther swings at hammer at someone from a higher angle
- In the film, Esther kills the Nun by hitting her continually with a hammer in her head. However, the trailer doesn't show who she is swinging the hammer at. It can be seen that Esther is even swinging it towards Max at first, yet we see her after within the same scene. A hammer is not a usual weapon when placed with a child, not that any are. Even so that Hammers are not specifically a weapon, but a tool for working and building. Showing that Esther had an urgency to hurt the nun, as she had no typical weapon available to her. Therefore, portraying Esther as even more violent, as the determination is unnerving. So, as a child isn't usually given a hammer and a hammer is not an ultimate weapon, a hammer can connote a usual sense around Esther, as the plot reveals she is not a child.
Seen When: The police expecting the house after the main violence acts from Esther. Which is typically seen with Police, reinforcing their representation.
Which Clothing: Seen in the majority of the trailer, except the last few scenes and is seen underneath her coat. It's similar to the dress in the poster and DVD cover. Two different styles of.
Grey, long, pinafore dress with a white colour. This looks old fashioned, like school uniform. It complements the catholic orphanage they are in. Which represents childhood and purity, as the religion believes in simplicity and protecting the body away from seemingly bad things. (Linking in with the genre of thriller and horror). However, the style carries on past the orphanage. For example, in the school she is wearing a grey skirt with a white collard blouse. Of which again look old fashioned. Connoting her real identity? as although she isn't from the Victorian times, that the clothes look like they are from, she will have a different perception on what acceptable clothing is. Compared to the other children, in jeans and t-shirt, they would not think she is trendy. Therefore, influencing the bully to say "little bow beep wants her clothes back".
Which Clothing: Similar clothing all the way through - specifically a long shot showing her full outfit during a conversation with a psychologist. All colours and styles are typically the same throughout the whole trailer, with slight changes such as colour swap of the trousers with the bottoms.
Very neutral, complementary colours. A grey cardigan, brown layered t-shirt, dark blue jeans and brown boots. Overall, she portrays a typical 30+ year old. She also displays herself as a nurturing mother, as if taking on the role of nature through the neutral colours. She anchors the representation of a calm, maternal woman, who would be associated with being a mother. For example, if she was wearing revealling and loud coloured clothing, she wouldn't seem like the correct person to play the role of a mother who wants to adopt.
Her personality is also displayed to be simplistic and calm through this. Which for a protagonist, can be argued to go against the established stereotype. Additionally, she isn't put into clothes that enhance her powers - even if they aren't supernatural. Whereas Esther’s allow her to hide her secret. However, this can help with a thriller. As although she seems ordinary, by actually being a heroic protagonist it can help to build the tension. More so as the Father and son, being male (the typical protagonists) end up needing help and dying. Whereas the mother and daughter survive.
Overall, the lighting from the start and the end are binary opposite. At the start, there is a lot of bright colours, nearly artificial. Yet towards the end, the shots are very dark and have a wide range of low lighting. By doing this, the tone of the trailer changes, which complements the other conventions, specifically the soundtrack. The change in lighting clearly seen to change when Esther begins to kick and scream in the bathroom due to frustration.
Esther painting compared to the shot of Kate and John
. In this scene, Esther is placed within the right of the shot and the painting in the left. There is a window behind her, causing a natural high key lighting. Which is coming from behind her, creating a halo of lighting around her face and hair. This may have been done to create a sense of harmony through angelic like imagery, complementing Esther’s innocence portrayal at this point. Very similar connotations are portrayed in the shot of Kate and John, who are also sat in front of a window. Therefore, developing the meaning of the two characters complementing each other, although the antagonist and protagonist roles are so far unknown.
Esther once again painting
. This scene and the one before evidently show the shift in Esther’s nature, as the lighting is opposite from before. As now, the lighting is low key, making the majority of the shot dark except from her face. By doing this, it may indicate the true identity and motivation of Esther being demonstrated. As if the lighting is acting as a spot light onto people watching her movements and actions. Specifically as the angelic imagery is now gone with her innocence. Creating an eerier feel to the shot.
. This scene shows the transition in Esther’s mood, being the main turning point for the tone in the trailer. In this shot, it suddenly goes dark with tones of grey and black. Yet also seems more artificial. So, now the trailer seems more dark, eerie and dramatic. Suiting the actions of Esther from now on.
A mixture of Diegetic and non-diegetic soundtracks are used all throughout the trailer, causing a build in tension.
At the start of the film, we hear the conversation between the nun and Kate about adopting a child. This establishes the setting and a foundation for the rest of the trailer. As although this would have been done without sound, it adds to the other conventions and the feelings of each character. The dialogue at the start also hints at the rest of the narrative, that something about Esther doesn’t really make any sense. Again, developing a sense of uneasiness and excitement for the audience. For example, Esther tells Kate “I guess I’m different” and the nun states “adopting an older child is not an easy decision” and “this is a very extraordinary little girl” – already making the audience question about the reality of adopting and the ambiguity behind Esther.
At the start, a high slow paced beat is given. It’s very simple and calm, portraying the positive feelings of the characters. Again, a hint towards the end is given as when Esther is shown, the pace does quicken slightly. Complementing the former equilibrium which is established at the start. However, this evidently changes after the negative remark about her clothing is given from the school girl. A shallow deep wash of sound is played as if Esther’s emotions towards the girl. The dull and eerier sound is unsettlingly, allowing the audience to now feel a shift in the tone and true personality from Esther. The sounding also sounds like low a warning bell, as if to tell the characters to be careful and that danger is approaching. In the last third of the trailer, the pace once again quickens to the same pace as before. Yet with different types of pitches and volumes, which allows the diegetic sounds to be heard more – informing the audience what is happening. As the diegetic sound plays more of a role in adding to the tension and violence that Esther is developing. Towards the very end, a faster paced slashing sound is heard. Of which is a typical sound track within a thriller/horror, paired with death and violence. Complementing the violent acts and emotions demonstrated in all characters. Specifically as the shots here are much shorter and faster. Also, the very end soundtrack is Esther signing “The Glory of Love”. Creating tension to end the trailer on, chilling the audience and making the want to watch more. I feel this is so successful because singing and children are often placed together in innocence, but by now knowing Esther’s true intentions, will now know this isn’t innocence.
Screams – Throughout the trailer, beginning from the scene of Esther kicking in the bathroom. There are about 6 screams, mainly from Esther. The ones from Esther are mainly in high pitched screams of frustration and anger, aimed towards other people to either express these feelings or scare them. Particularly the screams from Esther dominate the soundtrack, pulling the audience’s attention towards them. This also connotes the mental state of Esther, fighting against emotions and tendencies of violence. For the other characters, such as Max, the screams are almost in reply to Esther’s. As when the treehouse is being burnt down, Max is screaming between shouting “MOM!”. So instead of a scream for attention of evilness, he is screaming because of evilness to be saved. Connoting the child’s innocence and need to be saved by the protagonist, Kate. There are any other Diegetic sounds, however, the dialogue and non-diegetic sounds are successful on their own to create tension. Specifically as they allow the screams to stand out more.
Long shots are also common in thrillers/horrors. Mainly by establishing the setting and easily showing the tone of the shot. The first example is seen at the start, through Kate’s eye line perception of Esther sitting alone in a room painting. This shot allows the reality of Esther being alone to be seen. You can the empty space around her, she is centred and the focus of Kate and she is drawn in by Kate for these reasons. Therefore, we know why Kate was drawn into her and Esther’s personality. Yet the audience also begin to question why she is alone, as that isn’t usual for children. Particularly as the other children were just seen running around together. So the tone of this shot is dull, we begin to feel sorry for Esther as she is alone.
Another long shot is seen in the classroom scene, when the girl says her negative remark. When juxtaposed with the medium close up of Ester, the difference between the children is seen and again, we feel sorry for Esther. She is once again alone and secluded from children and reality. As if the children are against her, outnumbering her and making her feel unwanted. This could demonstrates Esther’s feelings, as her disability may make her feel this way. As that is what seemingly lead her to this evil state of mind, as she wasn’t accepted and taken seriously.
Cut in shots are almost important shots for a thriller/horror as they show important details that the audience may have missed without them being included. For example, the cut in from a medium long shot of Kate trying to open the door, to an extreme close up of her panicking that she cannot get into the room.
Without this shot, the anchorage out Kate’s building suspicious of Esther wouldn’t have be established in the place it was meant to. As her urgency to find Esther was exaggerates within this shot. Another example that exaggerates the action is a cut in shot of the burning paper in the tree house. Showing the true danger that Esther has placed Daniel into. Yet also showing the drawings burning with the message behind them.
. The two establishing shots I chose to analyse are the two settings that are unfamiliar for one of the characters. The first example being the Orphanage, which is large, relatively old fashioned but well maintained house. The shot is busy, with a lot of cars, families, couples and children. The car Kate and John are traveling in is also clear to the audience, which is respectively a family car – fitting in with them adopting another child. This setting is unfamiliar with John and Kate (also the audience), so it has to leave a good example on them, which it does as they do adopt. However, for the audience they will also be unfamiliar with the weather if from a different state in American or another country. Orphan is set in Connecticut, typically a cold state amongst the US, much like New York and Washington. In turn, connoting the setting and as Americans are all different from state to state, the stereotypes may begin to form.
The second Establishing shot is unfamiliar to the audience and Esther. She says, “This is your house?” as if in amazement. The house is very large and modern. Connoting the family she adopted into are very rich and will be able to support her needs. However, the two scenes juxtapose each other a lot, which make Esther seem odd in the second. So that in the scene of the children picking on her, we understand that Esther isn’t matched with modern places, her mind set and outlook are from the past. Also, the postion of the family car in each is the same. Suggesting a sense that the two settings are coming together.
The second shown shot reverse shot shown is between Esther and Kate. This is used to show the development of the relationship and feelings towards each other. Similar conventions were used to that explained in the camera work. The shot reverse shot anchors the positively between both characters, although thriller/horrors normally show the negative feelings.
Again, this is seen between Esther and Max when they first meet, which is a very positive moment in the film. However, they also included the stereotypical shot reverse shot between negative and positive. As the shots after Esther sets the tree house on fire go ESTHER – DANIEL – ESTHER. Portraying the different in Daniels manic and Esther’s sinister delight. Demonstrating the different between innocence and evil.
The pace in the trailer also changes throughout the video. From other analysis of thriller/horror, we found this to be very typical convention. Being one of the most useful conventions in order to build tension, along side the soundtrack. At the start, the pace is very slow. Which connotes peacefulness and tranquility, allowing the audience to understand at this point in the trailer, there is a clear equilibrium. We understand the connotations to complement the narrative at the time and the emotions of the characters.
However, the pace also quickens. As the shots get shorter and cut fast between each other. After Esther begins to kick and scream in the bathroom, the shots begin to do this. For example, the scenes of Esther attacking the nun, Max, Daniel and John quickly cut. In turn not showing all the scene, yet giving enough to show the violence. The audience will feel an effect of a quick tension and suspense build. Which thrillers/horrors intend to do.
Propps Theory = Character Types
The Hero: Kate (Kills Esther, tries to save whole family)
The Villain: Esther (Tries to kill, sometimes exceeds, the people in her way)
The Donor: Sister Abigale, Psychologist & Doctor (give information about Esther’s true identity to help Kate
The Princess: Kate to have a happy family & rekindle relationship with John
The Helper: Sister Abigale (gives information)
Director = Jaume Collet-Serra
. House of Wax (2005)
. Goal II: Living the Dream (2007)
. Orphan (2009)
. Unknown (2011)
. The River (2012) TV
. Intel Discovered (2012) Video Game
. Non-Stop (2014)
. Run All Night (2015)
The majority of Jaume’s productions are thrillers/horrors. Showing he has advanced skills and knowledge into this area, due to experience and passion. Also, most of the productions also have action, which is a sub-genre commonly seen in the genre of thriller. So, if audiences are already familiar with the used styles and conventions of his past work, they may understand the use in his other films. Additionally, if they are already a fan of his work, they are more likely to watch his other work and support them.
The trailer involves a sense of enigma, a puzzle about the Esther the audience do not know. Therefore, making them want to know to conclude the enigma of the film. The enigma in the film is that Esther is secretly a 30+ year old woman, in love with John who wants to kill the rest of the family.
Although the character of Esther deviates from stereotypes with the concealed behaviour and motives that wouldn’t be acceptable within the real world and specifically for a child, she does still portray some stereotypical conventions. The main one being that she portrays the emotion of jealously which is evidently seen within children, especially one who has been through psychological distressing experiences. Considering her body dysmorphia and abandonment as a children by her parents. A common theme in thrillers is to corrupt the innocence of a character, and as children embody purity they are often the victim of this. Therefore, the twist in actions and motives of Esther that are exposed become stereotypical for a false hero.
For example, an award winning Chicago film critic called
(who has 20 critic books, co-hosted a TV programme, has his own film festival and is the only film critic to have a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame) even highlighted how he noticed the similarities of Esther to another famous child antagonist. He stated
“After seeing ‘Orphan’, I now realise that
Damien from ‘The Omen’
was a model child for Esther”
and how Esther is “
A shamelessly effective film based on the most diabolical of movie malefactors, a child”
. Refereeing to how the directors of this film once again manage to corrupt the innocence of a child and create an effective response.
"The Devis' Own Son"
Kate follows the role of a stereotypical protagonist more than Esther does at an antagonist. I feel the most evident role of the protagonist she displays is her maternal nature, which is emphasised by her being a mother and her main aims to be to protect them from danger. Within a thriller, the protagonist is typically an everyday person, who faces troubles and seeks an equilibrium. Kate’s trouble being the abortion and her equilibrium would be to have another child to protect and return back to be state she was once in. Her actions are very sacrificial, in that she would put her own life in danger for her children – without showing any fear. The only way she break the stereotypes is that she’s a female, when the typical strong male possesses the role of the protagonist. In turn, making her husband, John possesses the ‘damsel in distress’ role and be the weaker character.