Case 39 is about a social worker named Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) who is beyond overworked, but takes on the case of a girl named Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland.) There seems to be a severe case of abuse towards the girl, seemingly confirmed when Lilith’s parents try to murder her. The parents are found not guilty by reason of insanity as they claim that Lilith is a demon and they had no choice but to kill her. Emily ends up taking Lilith in until a better foster home can be found, but then as people in Emily’s life begin to die under mysterious circumstances, she realizes that Lilith’s parents may have been right.
I’m a fan of evil child movies, so I liked Case 39. It does a pretty good job of setting Lilith up as the innocent victim (though somewhat unfortunately because of the expectations of it being a horror movie, and especially after reading a summary of it, the audience will still realize that she’s evil, so there’s not much opportunity for surprise.) It’s well-acted (and I really like Jodelle Ferland, as far as child actresses go) and the characters are pretty good as well. Emily’s conflict over proper professional behavior vs. legitimate worry for Lilith is believably handled. In a few ways it felt like the ending and resolution were a little bit rushed, and I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to not realize that Emily is probably going to wind up spending a good chunk of her life in prison after the credits roll. The film isn’t the most groundbreaking or original offering, and it felt to me like there was just something kind of missing, but it’s a well put together film that is largely successful in telling its story.