2/5 Dir Christian Alvart US (18+) Whatever happened to Renée Zellweger? One minute she’s a bankable, Oscar-winning, A-list female lead; next she’s reduced to made-for-bargain-bin tosh like flop romcom New in Town and now this, a low-budget horror more suited to the Tara Reid brand of blonde Hollywood actress than the type that wins Academy Awards.
Still, we can almost see why Zellweger might have been drawn to this. It boasts several promising elements, namely excellent young actress Jodelle Ferland, who is genuinely menacing as the little girl that Zellweger’s social worker comes to regret rescuing. Ferland commands every scene she stars in, out-acting her fellow, far more experienced cast mates (including Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane) at every turn.
There are a couple of truly disturbing scenes, too, most notably the way in which ‘innocent’ Lillith Sullivan’s parents attempt to dispose of her once and for all before Zellweger blunders in and saves her. But these are pockets of salvation in an otherwise hellish mess of a movie that is heavy on cliché and light on logic. Utterly predictable and more often than not laughable, Case 39 is an appalling exercise in squandering talent and potential. It might well signal the end of one established actress’s career, but what a shame if it stunts the start of another, incredibly promising one.