It always fascinates me how some horror movies get made. CASE 39 is a perfect example. The plot is so utterly conventional and hackneyed, yet it gets a lavish budget and an all-star cast. It’s obvious that the script offers nothing new to the genre and is so predictable that it begs to ask why it’s worth watching.
With that said, CASE 39 is not a bad film and like 2013’s THE POSSESSION, it’s handsomely made.
Here’s the plot (stop me if you’ve heard this before): Emily (Renée Zellweger) is a family services social worker who takes her job very seriously. When she’s handed a new case (case #39), she discovers a desperate child named Lily (Jodelle Ferland) whose parents are conspiring to kill for some reason. With help from her police pal, Det. Mike Barron (Ian McShane) they save Lily in the nick of time.
Taken by the plight of the young girl, Emily defies convention and becomes her guardian until they can find her a permanent residence. All seems right with the world, until people around Emily start dying in peculiar ways. All fingers point to Lily who may not be who she appears to be.
I think you can work out that Lily is actually a demon who sucks the life out of happy people before moving on to others to steal their souls. The entire plot is paint by numbers and this would have to be your first “possessed child” horror movie for you to be surprised by any of the revelations or outcome of the story.
I should probably mention that Bradley Cooper is also in the film as Emily’s unrequited love interest. Everyone does a decent job acting in the film, albeit a little too serious for the material. Ferland is fine as the “creepy girl” but doesn’t really add anything new to the dozens of other creepy kids we’ve seen before and at times it feels like she’s going through the motions as opposed to actually inhabiting the evil.
Like THE POSSESSION, I waffle over recommending movies like CASE 39 because there’s been so many versions of this film in the past that have done it better or the same. It really comes down to whether you want to see this story told with these actors.