User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 58 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 58
  2. Negative: 13 out of 58

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  1. Oct 3, 2010
    3
    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 projectileThe 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
  2. Oct 9, 2010
    2
    "Case 39 has potential to be scary but with a predictable plot , bad acting , and terrible script , you may jump here and there , the film will probably loose your attention after about the first 30mins, it fails on all levels & we have seen it all before" .. D+
  3. Jan 9, 2011
    2
    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.
    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.
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  4. Jan 5, 2012
    3
    As most horrors, or wanna be horrors, usually go, "Case 39" is typical. It sucks. The story is plain not scary. It could be potentially a really bad thriller, if it weren't trying (very badly and mildly) to be a horror. There are no scares, and there are very few thrills what-so-ever. While the idea seemed interesting at first with the girl's situation, it fast evolves into the typicalAs most horrors, or wanna be horrors, usually go, "Case 39" is typical. It sucks. The story is plain not scary. It could be potentially a really bad thriller, if it weren't trying (very badly and mildly) to be a horror. There are no scares, and there are very few thrills what-so-ever. While the idea seemed interesting at first with the girl's situation, it fast evolves into the typical "demon child" routine, which is overdone and just plain boring/stupid. Renee Zellweger is darn awful in this, since all she seems to be able to pull off when it comes to acting (at least nowadays) seems to be a "lemon-face" (aka. her pouting her lips as if she is sucking on a lemon - aka, lemon-face). It is extremely distracting and annoying. Jodelle Ferland, who plays the little girl Lilith, is at first irritating, but then turns out to be rather decent in her role as the Satanistic-child. The rest of the cast is rather unmemorable, as is usual in films like this. Technically, the film was decent, nothing really to point out that was particularly bad or good. Overall, though, the film was disappointing with a worsening plot, bad acting by Zellweger, and boring dialogue and story. Needless to say, it is a rather typical horror flick. Expand
  5. Nov 1, 2011
    4
    I've been watching a lot of movies with young girls being used for the scare effect. I've seen many that utilize the overdone demonic-psychosis debate. If this movie was compared to the exorcism movies (Last Exorcism and Exorcism of Emily Rose) this movie is not worth watching. It seems to be along the same lines though. I didn't find this horrifying and it didn't keep me thrilled either.
  6. May 23, 2011
    3
    There's not one scene in this flick that won't remind you of other (and better) horror films. If in some points it manages to creep, there's no doubting the heavy cliche it bears that would make it easily the most forgettable horror film of 2010.
  7. Jun 23, 2013
    3
    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 theirWith 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.
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  8. Jul 25, 2013
    3
    The little girl looked creepy, which is the only good thing about this boring, tried horror formula. Aside of the good casting of the "child", there was no tension, or scary atmosphere in the movie, which is the basic requirement of a good horror/psychological thriller. Everything happened as we have already seen it before in other horror movies, so it lacked originality also. The endingThe little girl looked creepy, which is the only good thing about this boring, tried horror formula. Aside of the good casting of the "child", there was no tension, or scary atmosphere in the movie, which is the basic requirement of a good horror/psychological thriller. Everything happened as we have already seen it before in other horror movies, so it lacked originality also. The ending was absolutely BAD! Not recommended. Expand
Metascore
25

Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 15
  2. Negative: 12 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Leigh Paatsch
    12
    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.
  2. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    30
    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.
  3. 30
    A mess of a horror movie that spent several years sitting on a shelf and should have remained there living up to its fullest potential as a dust magnet.