Case 39

Rated 2.0

A child protective services worker (Renée Zellweger) takes the case of a frightened little girl (Jodelle Ferland) who says her parents want to kill her; when they actually try, the social worker saves her life and gains custody. But she begins to fear that the girl may not be the innocent waif, nor her parents the crazed would-be killers, that they all seem. Ray Wright’s script begins subtly, and at first it all feels unsettlingly original. Director Christian Alvard establishes a suitably sinister atmosphere; Vancouver, British Columbia, has seldom looked so grimy and threatening. But it all goes for naught soon enough; before the movie is half over, the usual clichés take over—supernatural bugs spouting from bodily orifices, hounds of hell, Exorcist-style voices. Too bad; the movie was onto something for a while.