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Decent movie in the "creepy kid" genre. Well acted but perhaps a bit too long, and with no huge surprises.
|Vera Farmiga||Kate Coleman|
|Peter Sarsgaard||John Coleman|
|CCH Pounder||Sister Abigail|
|Jimmy Bennett||Daniel Coleman|
|Margo Martindale||Dr. Browning|
|Karel Roden||Dr. Varava|
|Aryana Engineer||Max Coleman|
|Rosemary Dunsmore||Grandma Barbara|
|Genelle Williams||Sister Judith|
|Mustafa Abdelkarim||Daniel's Friend #1|
|Landon Norris||Daniel's Friend #2|
|Julien Elia||Hospital Receptionist|
|Leni Parker||Delivery Room Nurse|
|Gemma James Smith||Teacher|
|Pia Ajango||Saarne Institute Receptionist|
|Matthew Raudsepp||Saarne Institute Orderly|
|Sugith Varughese||ICU Doctor|
|Luis Olivia||ICU Nurse|
|Ferelith Young||Waiting Room Nurse|
|Andrew Shaver||Injection Doctor|
"Can you keep a secret?"
"There's something wrong with Esther."
"You'll never guess her secret."
Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) and her husband John (Peter Sarsgaard) are experiencing strains in their marriage after their third child was stillborn. The loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is also recovering from alcoholism. The couple decides to adopt a 9-year-old Estonian girl, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), from the local orphanage. While Kate and John's deaf-mute daughter Max (Aryana Engineer) embraces Esther almost immediately, their son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) is less welcoming.
Kate becomes suspicious that there might be problems in Esther's background when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than expected of a child her age. Her suspicions deepen when Esther seriously injures another girl who had bullied Esther at school at a local park. While she initially believes Esther's claim that it was an accident, Kate is further alarmed when Sister Abigail (C. C. H. Pounder), the head of the orphanage, warns her and John that bad things always seem to happen when Esther is around. Esther overhears this and, as Sister Abigail is leaving in her car, Esther pushes Max into its path, forcing her to swerve off the road. Sister Abigail rushes to see if Max is hurt, but Esther kills her with a hammer, then convinces Max to help her hide the weapon in their treehouse. Kate is convinced that something is very wrong with Esther, but John does not believe her. Attempting to find out more about Esther, Kate finds the girl's hidden Bible and discovers that it came from the Saarne Institute in Estonia, which she eventually learns is a mental hospital. She e-mails a picture of Esther to them and asks for more information.
When Daniel learns about Sister Abigail's death from Max, he tells her of his plan to retrieve the hammer to prove Esther's guilt. However, Esther overhears their conversation and confronts Daniel as he searches the treehouse, setting it ablaze and locking Daniel inside in an attempt to kill him and destroy the evidence. Daniel falls to the ground trying to escape, and is knocked unconscious. Esther attempts to finish him off with a rock, but Max stops her. While Daniel is hospitalized from his fall, Esther slips into his room and smothers him with a pillow, stopping his heart, but doctors quickly revive him. Kate, realizing what happened, attacks Esther, but orderlies help John restrain her. As John takes Esther and Max home, doctors sedate Kate.
That night, Esther tries to seduce a drunken John, who finally believes Kate was right and threatens to send Esther back to the orphanage. Meanwhile, as Kate is coming out of sedation, she receives a call from a doctor at the Saarne Institute, who reveals that Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She has hypopituitarism, a hormone disorder that stunted her physical growth, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. The doctor tells Kate that Leena is extremely violent and has murdered at least seven people, and that she bears scars on her neck and wrists, which Esther always kept covered, received while trying to escape her straitjacket. Among her victims were a family that adopted her in Estonia, whom she killed because the father rejected her sexual advances.
Leena flies into a rage after being spurned by John, and ransacks her room. Then, after removing the makeup, false teeth, and body wrappings that enhanced her illusion as youthful "Esther", Leena kills him with a knife. Max witnesses this, and hides. Kate, unable to get John on the phone, rushes home and finds him dead. Leena gets a gun from John's safe and shoots Kate in the arm, then goes searching for Max, finding her in the greenhouse. While Leena shoots at Max, Kate crawls onto the greenhouse roof, breaks through the glass above Leena, and lands on her, knocking her out. Kate takes the gun and leaves the greenhouse with Max.
Leena regains consciousness and finds Kate and Max outside near a frozen pond. Leena lunges at Kate, knocking the gun out of Kate's hand and hurling them both onto the ice. As Max watches from a hill above, she picks up the gun and tries to shoot Leena, but hits and shatters the ice instead, causing Kate and Leena to drop into the water. After a brief struggle, Kate climbs partially out of the pond with Leena desperately clinging to her legs. Leena, hiding a knife behind her back and reverting to her little-girl persona, begs Kate not to let her die. Kate angrily responds that she is not her mother, and kicks Leena in the face, breaking her neck and sending her sinking back into the pond. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.
Theatrical : 2009-07-24 : United States of America
DVD : 2009-10-27
DVD : 2010-01-15 : Hungary
DVD : 2010-01-20 : Czech Republic
DVD : 2010-02-10 : Denmark
DVD : 2010-02-17 : Sweden