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The Independent Critic

Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane
Christian Alvart
Ray Wright
Rated R
109 Mins.
Paramount Pictures
Filed Under "Evil": Inside Case 39
Turning Up the Heat on the Chill Factor
Inside the Hornet's Nest
Playing with Fire
Deleted Scenes
and others.

 "Case 39" Review 
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For everyone involved with the mostly awful Case 39 there's good news - the film has been languishing in distribution hell since 2006, a bit of a relief given the quality work offered recently by the likes of Bradley Cooper and the film's director, Christian Alvart (Pandorum).

Unfortunately, there's no such good news for actress Renee Zellweger, who seems to be slipping further and further away from her days of acclaimed performances in high-brow Hollywood fare and, for the most part, seems to be acting significantly less and choosing poorly these days.

Case 39 has Zellweger as a social worker who knows no boundaries, or at least doesn't have healthy boundaries, and so she rescues young Lillith (Jodelle Ferland) after the youngster survives almost being burned alive in an oven by her foster parents.

Admit it. You can already see where this one's going, can't you?

Yes, you can.

This is a supernatural thriller (of course!) and it goes without saying that Lillith isn't quite the innocent, vulnerable child we first meet and, before long, the body count is adding up and our little demon child is wreaking havoc on everyone around her.

Been there. Seen that.

After a few years in Paramount's closet, it would seem that the studio would have the common sense to ship this cinematic dreck out as a straight-to-DVD package where it would likely gather at least a bit of attention almost solely on the basis of its celeb pedigree. However, after the film actually made some big bucks in Spanish-speaking countries  the studio apparently has decided to give it at least a brief theatrical run though it did suffer the no confidence vote of not being screened for critics.

That's nearly always a bad sign.

In this case, it was a definite omen as everyone involved in this project is dreadful working off a predictable, bland script by Ray Wright. As the hapless and misguided social worker, Zellweger is sleepwalking through a role here that might've at least had a bit of intrigue had she been remotely emotionally invested. Ian McShane doesn't fare any better. Only Bradley Cooper manages to escape the label "awful," and that's mostly because he isn't around long enough to stink up the film.

Oh, I guess that was a plot spoiler, eh?

After the magnificent performances this weekend by the young duo of Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jodelle Ferland's turn as psycho girl is even more disappointing.

Instantly forgettable, Case 39 has the even greater misfortune of opening on the same weekend as the vastly superior Let Me In and, for that matter, Hatchet 2 not to mention this little film about a certain social network. With a slew of better options to choose from, not even hardcore Zellweger fans should worry about catching this flick on the big screen. Just wait, it'll be on home video soon... where it really belongs.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic