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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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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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