Esther and Jack: Family-Knife-Wielding Horror Madness

2016.10.07
Esther and Jack: Family-Knife-Wielding Horror Madness
Column
Timetraveller Wife
by Timetraveller Wife
Esther and Jack: Family-Knife-Wielding Horror Madness

Put a creepy girl and a shady past together and you’ve got a recipe for intrigue.  Make the creepy girl go berserk and turn on her family with a knife, it’s a chilling-must-watch horror. 

Orphan is heavily-storied on the secret of a murderous child but without any supernatural zing. The story begins when Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) decide to adopt a nine-year-old girl, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), to help overcome the toll that the loss of their baby is taking on their marriage. Well… John’s infidelity plays a part too. While Esther seems mature, well-behaved and a well-prescribed antidote to the current storm in their marriage, Kate and John’s son isn’t too comfortable with his new sister.

It isn’t long before Kate suspects something, especially when her deaf little daughter appears traumatized after spending time alone with Esther. There’s something wrong with Esther indeed. John, like the skeptical father character in so many horrors, tries coming up with many excuses for Esther’s bizarre behaviour. But, it isn’t long before Esther pulls out a knife and starts a stabbing frenzy.

What is it with Vera Farmiga and evil kids?

With The Conjuring franchise under her belt, Vera Farmiga is fast establishing herself as a horror queen and her thrilling performance in Orphan must have played a part in her casting for The Conjuring. Few may remember Farmiga for her outstanding performance in Up in the Air opposite George Clooney which won her an Academy Award nomination, but she isn't just good for a scream-fest, she is a legitimately good actress.

However, the highlight of the film has to be Isabelle Fuhrman. She delivers her role superbly. Fuhrman just turned 11 when filming began. The critics hailed her performance in Orphan as "one of the most momentous examples of acting from a child performer in years”. Her performance was also compared to the bone-chilling work of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Fuhrman also went on to play Clove in The Hunger Games, an international hit that grossed more than US$640 million.

Critics hailed Isabelle Fuhrman's performance in Orphan as "one of the most momentous examples of acting from a child performer in years”

Orphan

 

Now, let’s talk about another family member who goes crazy with an axe and uses it on his wife. This is a horror that’s ranked 29th on AFI’s 100 Thrills list and is one of the most disturbing movies ever made.

The Shining

The Shining is adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same title. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a writer with serious writer’s block, takes care of an isolated hotel in Colorado during winter. He settles in with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. Jack's writing goes nowhere while Danny's visions become more disturbing. Jack goes on to discover the hotel's dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac bent on murdering his family.

Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance and Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance in The Shining

This is a horror which no horror fan can and should miss. After all, we are talking about Stanley Kubrick, the genius director who directed A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Shelley Duvall, Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick on the set

Here are some interesting facts about the movie:

Kubrick was not one to believe in the existence of hell. He loved the idea of the supernatural because it meant man continues to survive in a way after death. However, King and Kubrick did not get along. Kubrick considered King a weak writer and didn’t even glance at the adaption that he wrote. Kubrick ended up working on the script with another author for 11 weeks. King didn’t like the movie. He said the movie didn’t bring out the essence of his book and Jack Nicholson was not the right man for the role. But Nicholson had critics raving over his performance. Nicholson was devilishly funny in his role. No one could forget his signature "Heeeere's Johnny!” as he chops down a bathroom door to get to Wendy.

 

Kubrick did not give Shelley Duvall an easy time either. Duvall, who played the tormented wife, said in her own words, "From May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great. Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play.” Her most stressful scene was where she swung the bat at Jack. This scene made it into The Guinness Book of Records because it took 127 takes, the most for a scene with spoken dialogue. This is what you get when you work with Kubrick, a notorious perfectionist and control freak.

The Shining
 
A taste of evil in two different horrors, equally riveting and thrilling. Get ready with your popcorn and slouch in the couch for a horror-fest weekend!