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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Case 39 (Fall 39)

Starts December 17

Renèe Zellweger plays Emily Jenkins, a social worker whose job is to monitor victims of child abuse. She talks to the children, their teachers, psychologists, and parents. Her job load is full with 38 cases, but her boss has no qualms about dumping number 39 on her desk: little Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). Emily visits Lily, as she is called, as well as her grey, silent parents in their tired, grey house decorated with religious symbols on the walls. It’s not long before she receives an SOS phone call from Lily and arrives just in time to see the Sullivans stuffing her into the oven in order to bake her to a crisp. Contrary to protocol and common sense, Emily takes Lily into her own home. Soon strange things begin to happen. Cupboards and drawers stand open with contents strewn about; doors no longer lock; personal property is missing; there are mysterious phone calls; friends die. The suspense slowly rises until only the death of a main character will bring release and a satisfactory climax; you will definitely never wish to be a social worker.

This is a subtle horror film which showed in August at the Hamburg Fantasy Film Festival before opening mainstream in October. Perhaps it is too long but there are some interesting scenes. My favourite was watching hundreds of wasps fly out of all the orifices of Douglas Ames (Bradley Cooper). The director is German Christian Alvart and it’s definitely worth your time to look up his background because he grew up in a conservative, religious household where films and television were considered the devil’s work.

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