Bridget Jones’s Die-ery

15 * 109 mins *  5 March
Christian Alvart
Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane

Case 39 has recently come to our attention as a severely neglected film. On first meeting, it appears covered in bruises and cuts, and we suspect this may be down to abuse suffered at the hands of preview screening audiences. Indeed, our department (The SFX Social Care Unit) was shocked to discover that Case 39 had been locked in a dark room since its completion in 2007. A monstrous act to be sure, but, as we discovered upon further investigation, a sadly necessary one.

It’s a terrifying tale set in the spooky world of social work. Sour-faced support worker Emily (Zellweger) already has 38 cases when a new file drops on her desk. It suggests that a young girl, Lillith (Ferland), is being neglected by her parents. Only it seems there’s more to Lillith than meets the eye…

During our work, we’ve come across many damaged films, some of which just needed a bit of TLC. But Case 39 is such a deeply unloveable child, we simply can’t recommend that anyone consider adopting it. It’s deceitful, having stolen from pretty much every major horror movie in the last 30 years (The Omen, Creepshow, The Ring – see the 33-page appendix to this report for the full list), it’s manipulative, thanks to a soundtrack that substitutes bangs for scares, and it lacks testicles, with a serious lack of chills topped by an ending that doesn’t so much deliver a gut punch as a nipple tweak.

Pascal Laugier, director of Martyrs, said recently that horror should always be transgressive, forcing its way into your consciousness. But Case 39 is too bland, with scares that are so polite they almost take their shoes off to avoid dirtying the hallway carpet of your mind. The script is terrible, the effects cheap and silly, the performances woeful (young Ferland seems to have confused acting with “waggling your head a bit”). Bradley Cooper’s sudden rising star status (thanks to The Hangover) is surely the only reason this is seeing the light now. Frankly, we can only recommend that the film be locked back in that darkened room. Case closed. Jon Hamblin