I was hoping for a mystery thriller in Case 39, and the beginning of the film did not disappoint; the first few scenes immediately rope you in with suspense. Unfortunately, the film’s major plot twist comes way too early on, making the rest of it seem like a bit of a letdown. Had the screenwriters of this film let us wonder in anticipation another 25-30 minutes longer as to who was pulling the strings, the big surprise might have had a much greater impact.
There are several legitimately scary scenes in Case 39 - so much so that you come away feeling the film is more horror than thriller. It would’ve been even scarier if the storyline set up some of the scary scenes a little better. Sometimes you have to suspend belief to buy in to the plot – this can be a lot to ask in the latter half of the film.
I was impressed with some of the computer-generated (CG) creatures & environments, especially for a film that only had a $27 MIL budget. Some of special effects are unforgettable; there’s one particularly priceless scene involving Bradly Cooper in his house - I’d say more but I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Cooper’s overall acting job as a soft-spoken shrink in this film is not bad, but he was so hilariously miscast that it’s just impossible to take him seriously at times. To be fair, this film was shot back in 2006 and then sat on the shelf for awhile; the trajectory of Cooper’s career was uncertain then. Unfortunately for Cooper, in the meantime audiences had the chance to see him as a renegade partier in Wedding Crashers, The Hangover (a role he’ll reprise in the sequel) & as a macho lord of war in The A-Team. Not exactly the type of guy you want to cast as your Dr. Paul Weston from HBO’s In Treatment series.
On the other hand, Zellweger & youngster Jodelle Ferland are simply tremendous in Case 39. Zellweger shows her strong range, handling bonafide action scenes and intense moments that prove she’s more than a rom-com/chick-flick actress.
Case 39 has some great scenes and surprises at times, but the overal payoff of watching this thriller isn’t worth the sum of its parts. If you love horror-thriller movies, then give this one a rental. If that growing blended genre isn’t your thing or you have no patience for a frustrating plot, then move elsewhere down the On Demand queue.
Verdict: 2.5 stars
Here’s a brief recap of how The Floor Seats’ 0-4 star rating system breaks down:
0-1 stars: This is an atrocious movie; an insult to film & a waste of your time
1-2 stars: Bad but not awful – avoid unless you’re dying to see it for a particular genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
2.5 stars: Only worth a rental if you really like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
3 stars: Definitely worth a rental unless you hate that type of genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
3.5 stars: Very good but not great – this is a film you should definitely rent & even consider buying if you like that genre/subject matter/actor’s performance
4 stars: Outstanding & unforgettable – almost certainly 1 of the top 100 greatest films you’ve ever seen. Buy with confidence!