The couple visits Sister Abigail's (CCH Pounder, a favorite of mine from Warehouse 13) children shopping center... I mean orphanage, and meet the main antagonist Ester (Isabelle Fuhrman). She is doing art and sing in a room off by herself and seems very skilled at painting. "I've had lots of time to practice." she says when complimented. This piece of foreshadowing brought to you by obvious. Sister Abby also mentions to them about the ribbons on her wrists and neck, so at that point one could assume she has some kind of scars. Quickly we get to the day when Ester is part of the family, then the false scares and scary stares begin from the new little girl with the strange accent.
Ester works fast from sweet and interested in Kate and John to creating the perfect triangle and seriously messing with the adults relationship. There is the usual sibling jealousy from the son which Ester takes care of by bullying him. She also befriends little Max and then things start to go horribly wrong. Information about the girl starts coming to light about her behavior. Sister Abigail improbably did not know story of her cruelty prior to the adoption but now that dad loves Ester while Mom does not the good sister tries to warn them. Ester deals with her in the way any good psycho would.
More and more things lead Kate to want to get rid of the girl, but she is just so darn good at splitting her and John that nothing really happens even though the audience see more and more cruel and dangerous behavior from Ester. When she attempts to kill Danny by burning him in the tree house we start to see the movie build to the climax. Kate seems to go nuts enough to be medicated for attacking Ester. John takes her and Max home and then drinks until intoxicated. Ester is succeeding in her plan to have John for herself. She tries to seduce him while in the cut scenes we get the whole Ester story spoon fed to us by a guy talking to Kate on her cell phone. How convenient and just at the right time.
So the climax comes when Kate is rushing home, John has rejected Ester as a nine year old lover and she flips out and wants to Kill Kill Kill. The all to perfect ending has a fun double climax but we really have known all along how this on was going to end. Everything , the shot and the dialog is used in the movie so it is easy to see the twist coming if you are paying attention. This is the biggest flaw in what is a pretty entertaining film though. The feeding of the important plot knowledge is just too obvious even if the twist is cool. It would have been a lot more interesting and disturbing if the father did not out of hand reject Ester. That would have made for some really uncomfortable audience feelings. Politically though it probably would have kept the movie from release so I guess it could not have been. That fact that the actress playing Isabelle was 12 at shooting time would have meant some tricky shooting also to keep her innocence intact. Still in the end it was a pretty standard and entertaining film certainly worth seeing.
Rating (6.5) All ratings above a 5 are recommended viewing