Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 51 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In Case 39, family services social worker Emily Jenkins thinks she has seen it all... until she meets 10-year old Lilith Sullivan and the child's cruel and dangerous parents. Her worst fears are confirmed when the parents try to harm Lily, their only daughter. Frightened for her life, Emily enlists the help of Detective Mike Barron and takes Lily in while she continues the search for the perfect foster family. Just as it seems as though Lily is on her way to a more loving home, under the guidance of Emily and psychiatrist, dark forces surrounding this young girl come to light and, little do they know, their attempts to protect her will only bring on greater horror. (Paramount Vantage) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 15
  2. Negative: 12 out of 15
  1. 70
    There is enough lurid, ludicrous subtext in the material to keep fans of such things happy. As trash, this is top of the line.
  2. Radiating a distinctly retro vibe, this throwaway thriller from the German director Christian Alvart tosses a bone to Renée Zellweger, who chews it to a nub as Emily Jenkins, a harried social worker.
  3. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Manages to be both very silly and highly forgettable. Only for those who collect killer-children films.
  4. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    This ludicrous outing from helmer Christian Alvart ("Pandorum") and scribe Ray Wright ("The Crazies") takes its psycho-satanic babble much too seriously, and should elicit more laughs than frights.
  5. 30
    Has there ever been a more inept trio of big-city caseworkers? Go ahead, Lilith. Unleash the hounds.
  6. One can't help experiencing the same dread about the exhausting flood of lackluster horror films that swamp our screens and, as Case 39 unfolds, realizing we're enduring one more.
  7. Reviewed by: Leigh Paatsch
    This movie is so self- combustingly bad it could never be good. But it's damn great fun to watch the thing go up in flames anyway.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 18
  2. Negative: 7 out of 18
  1. Jan 26, 2011
    We've watched a few stinkers lately but this one is a great movie. The plot had enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and I think we all know a kid with the potential... Expand
  2. Feb 10, 2011
    Horror movies all seem kinda lame lately these days. But, this one had me pretty freaked out. I give it a solid 9. There's not much more scary than a young girl possessed by demons, doing freaky **** I liked this movie and not sure why it's gotten such negative reviews. If you're in my same boat that horror movies don't cut it anymore, I would strongly recommend this one. Give it a try, it freaked me out. Expand
  3. Jan 21, 2014
    Needs little critical thinking. Just a thriller with horrifying undertones. Watch this movie when you want a pure and interesting distraction. Recommended. Expand
  4. Jul 4, 2013
    No mantiene al que la ve en suspenso y miedo todo el tiempo, tiene un desarrollo interesante, misterioso y entretenido, lo malo es un predecible final. Expand
  5. Oct 3, 2010
    The masturbation scene from William Freidkin's "The Exorcist" will always be shocking. In a sense, the saying, "Now I've seen it all," should have been retired after 1973 when twelve-year-old Regan MacNeil(Linda Blair) jammed a crucifix in her vagina, while burning moviegoers' ears with a scatological mix of sex and religion that not even Prince would ever dare approach. The projectile vomiting, however, so often parodied, and more importantly, smiled upon, since the bodily function plays a big part in the modern comedy aesthetic, as a result, seems to have lost a lot of its initial shock value because moviegoers don't see the devil's bile anymore, they see pea soup. Lilith Sullivan(Jodele Ferland) eats peas, but that's as far as it goes; she masticates and digests; she holds her vegetables down. In "Case 39", it's harder to see the devil inside. As Lilith methodically cuts each pea with a knife and fork, Emily Jenkins(Renee Zelwegger), her foster mother, thinks nothing of it, chalking up the girl's idiosyncratic eating habits as a symptom of her abused past. The devil inside Lilith also knows how to keep its sexual appetite in check; the devil keeps things discreet. Adorning those walls of the girl's old house, the domicile where Lilith was almost cooked alive, trapped inside the oven, put there by her parents, as if the whole family were characters out of a modern-day Brothers Grimm fairytale, are crucifixes, that, as Sheena Easton would put it, never "spend[s] a night in [her] sugar walls," but nevertheless, carries a certain sexual latency, being that the devil would distort the Christian relic's holy significance the first chance he'd get. Naturally, the carefully sliced peas has nothing to do with persnicketiness; it's a warning sign, unbeknownst to Emily, that her charge, the devil incarnate, perceives Doug(Bradley Cooper), a child psychiatrist, as a rival for the dim-witted woman's attention(but to be fair, all horror movie heroines are programmed this way), and an affront to the foster parent's boyfriend's prowess as a satisfactory lover, in which the peas denote small balls, and its smashing, denotes further that small balls is no match for big balls. Not only does Doug die, but the girl's father, Edward Sullivan(Callum Keith Rennie), too, whom the girl's mother, Margaret(Kerry O'Malley) chose over Lilith/the devil after she rejects her/his overture to, perhaps, engender devil spawn. The audience gets to see this scenario play out for themselves. When Emily, finally, at long last, realizes the mess she's in, the devil turns on the charm, utilizing its proxy to play the lolita, by tweaking the girl's feminine voice to flirtatious and persuasive heights, as a means to coax her guardian from under the bed. Since this is the devil we're talking about, Lilith probably wants to do more than talk. Expand
  6. Jun 23, 2013
    With Case 39 we have another uninteresting psychological horror movie that follows the same formula as many movies of its genre before it. Renée Zellweger’s kindhearted social worker discovers a 10-year-old-girl named Lilith that seems to be heavily mistreated by her parents, yet her superiors don’t let our protagonist interfere until the parents attempt to make dinner out of their offspring. But as it turns out, just because little Lily is freed from her parents, the movie isn’t over. Mysterious things start to happen and Bridget Jones starts to get into real trouble.

    I was quite skeptic about this movie because after the film was shot, it took three whole years to get it into cinemas. I’m unsure what the reasons for the numerous delays of the release date were, but I suppose it’s got something to do with how bad the movie is. Admittedly, it’s not one of the worst horror movies in any time period and even though it’s about ten minutes too long, I was entertained by it most of the time. However, the movie totally fails at what it’s aiming to be and is just another unrememberable and unsatisfying horror flick. Plus, it contains one of the most ridiculous movie death scenes OF ALL TIME (no exaggeration here, I’m telling you) that seriously dilutes the credibility of the actor in it. And not to forget, its jump scares are even more predictable than the storyline and the ending is a chaotically idiotic water catastrophe similar, yet even less fulfilling, to the one in 2009’s Orphan.

    Case 39 is not a most outrageous failure and I understood and liked some of the ideas that German director Christian Alvart had. The casting of Lilith was also well done since the girl who plays her manages to bounce likeability and craziness surprisingly good. In fact, she is even better than some of her adult colleagues, *cough* Ian McShane *cough*. This can’t prevent the movie from becoming a stereotypical, overlong, and not really frightening misstep that won’t be remembered by anyone in a couple of weeks, however.
  7. Jan 9, 2011
    It should come as an immediate indictment of Case 39 that I have begun writing this review before it even ends. The reason? The film just isn't that interesting.

    As far as demonic child horror flicks go, this is probably one of the worst. I have thought hard and cannot seem to find any redeemable qualities. The two biggest scares of the movie: a dog barking and an alarm clock going off. Wow. Scary stuff right there. Except, it isn't. Instead Case 39 offers up cheap thrills, horribly melodramatic acting and a storyline so cliche that you'll swear you've seen this somewhere before. Not to give away too much (in case you're just bored enough to actually watch this) but when a possibly-demonic child in the film is named Lilith, it kind of tips the hand.

    Now the film has ended so I can say with complete confidence, it never gets any better. It takes a pretty lame psychological horror thriller to make me laugh more than jump, but that's exactly what Case 39 does. I'm so excited that it is over, I may very well go celebrate. I can think of 39 reasons you shouldn't watch this film. If you choose to anyway, you were warned, and don't blame me.

See all 18 User Reviews