Case 39

Is this the least-scary horror film ever?

Some cases should never be opened. So reads the tag line for this Renée Zellweger vehicle, but a more apposite line would be: some movies should never be made. I'm betting that she wishes that was the case with this one. Zellweger plays the overworked-but-dedicated social worker Emily Jenkins, who is already dealing with 38 child abuse cases when she is given another, that of 10-year-old Lillith, who is suspected of being in an abusive situation at home. Of course, not all is as it seems, and although this is a movie almost totally lacking in suspense, it's not giving too much away to reveal that Lillith might be better named Damienne. There are some redeeming features to all this, most of all a halfway decent performance by Jodelle Ferland as Lillith, but there is far more to be disappointed about in Case 39. There proved to be a lot more suspense in the film's launch process. The cinema release was originally scheduled for February 2008 in the US, only to be put back several times. What were clearly test releases in New Zealand, Australia and Britain garnered a lot more critical slatings than box office takings. Maybe the most accurate review of all came from my friend here in Abu Dhabi, a woman who once had nightmares for six months after seeing a horror movie. After sitting through Case 39, she announced: "That is the least scary film ever."