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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Case 39

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

 "Case 39" (Paramount Vantage), while not family fare, is the sort of turgid, clumsy self-parody of a horror film some adults might want to watch on DVD on a cold, rainy night, if they can make up a game to go along with all the ringing phones that are meant to portend disaster.

Director Christian Alvart and screenwriter Ray Wright scoop deeply from the cliches of demon-seed-children flicks, with the misplaced Renee Zellweger as the quivering protagonist trapped behind locked doors.

Zellweger is social worker Emily Jenkins, who rescues doe-eyed 10-year-old Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), whom she believes to be an abuse victim, from her parents, Edward (Callum Keith Rennie) and Margaret (Kerry O'Malley). Mom and Dad, who have an appropriately spooky old house in Oregon, are arrested and later sent to a psychiatric hospital after they attempt to kill Lilith by shoving her into a gas oven—which, for extra effect, they light.

Emily takes temporary custody of Lilith, and things go smoothly at first, but it turns out Lilith's parents were on to something. The child is mendacious, perspicacious and a stone-cold demon-possessed killer. She can wreak havoc at long distances, always, for some reason, signaling her mayhem with phone calls. And yet she has trouble with deadbolts.

How she got the demon is never explained. How to stop her takes up the entire second hour of the film. Exorcism is never discussed, even though Lilith (wouldn't that name alone be sort of a giant clue?) has a large crucifix on her bedroom wall at home and Emily once encounters the only police officer who believes her, Detective Barron (Ian McShane), as he leaves what clearly appears to be a Catholic worship service.

Bradley Cooper as Doug, a psychiatrist, has just enough screen time to ask some penetrating questions, set off Lilith, and meet his doom with hornets.

The film contains fleeting crude language, a scene of nonsexual child abuse and brief but intense bloody violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Martyrdom of John the Baptist: The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? 
<p>This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.</p> American Catholic Blog Once you begin to neglect obedience, one by one everything goes. Obedience is difficult but that’s where love comes from. There are so many broken families because a woman will not obey a man and a man will not obey a woman. We belong to Jesus and obedience is our strength. You must do small acts of obedience with great love.

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