What a strange idea on the part of producers to offer almost 12 years after a prequel sequel to a rather overrated little horror film, whose reputation was mainly due to its final surprise effect. Rather mediocre filmmaker without any particular label Jaume Collet-Serra, although officially affiliated with the lousy career of Liam Neeson had nevertheless started well with his nice remake of Wax Museum both gory and respectful of its models. In 2009 Esther proposed a classic, not very inventive but effective variation, of evil childhood featuring a poor orphan adopted by an ideal American family quickly proving to be much more evil than her appearance as a model little girl. To talk to you about this sequel, we have to spill the beans.Esther – but who doesn’t know her? After following its traditional path, mixing Gothic and contemporary inspirations, between Claytonian fantasy and American-style murderous pathology, Esther sent her ultimate twist: the one we took for a kid was actually a young woman of thirty suffering from panhypopituitarism, a disease close to dwarfism, giving Esther the appearance of a 9-year-old child. The flip side of this stunning revelation is also to unleash his prudish hypocrisy. Once explained, the unlocked taboos were only decoys, there was no longer a little girl trying to seduce an adult, but just a psychopath. Evil no longer belonged to childhood. Phew, the moral was saved. Now recognized as no longer a child, it was visually possible to punish her as an adult monster and snap her neck.
At all levels, without being a masterpiece, this second part is rather a good surprise, less for its plot than for all the patterns it draws. Still nothing new under the sun of suspense which deploys its springs in an agreed manner, of its prologue which sees its escape very halloween from the hospital in which she is interned to the way in which she is going to get rid of the intruders. But the interest is elsewhere, and the more the film advances the more it is tinged with an unexpected strangeness, even more so for a sequel sniffing out lucrative intentions. William Brent Bell’s first good idea (The Boy 1 & 2) is to take on the original actress Isabelle Fuhrman to once again play Esther or rather Leena, the fake Esther, not 12 years later, but a year before the original plot. In effect Esther, the origins tells her story, before she was this poor orphan who survived a fire.
At 11 in 2009 she played an adult disguised as a child; in 2022 she is now almost the age of her character! And the actress being in no way affected by dwarfism, William Brent Bell prefers to digital deaging techniques, old-fashioned cinema tricks: focal tips and linings of little girls. Which turns out to be extremely convincing. It will somehow reverse the subterfuge compared to the first part, disguising her as a model little girl, on a principle that is finally here closer to Baby Jane, since we now know her true nature. He thus puts really disturbing and unhealthy situations, when we feel her falling in love with her “adoptive father”, a woman trying to find love in the arms of a man seeing her as his little girl. The film could have pushed this destabilizing “incestuous” imagery even further and only scratches the surface and sticks to the premises of the disorder, preventing the film from taking off on the other side of the border.
Esther 2 also has the excellent idea of making a turn in its first third. The varnish of this bourgeois family peels quickly: the father is the only one to believe that his little Esther is alive: because the son accidentally killed him and hid the body with the help of his mother. Since then, Esther the origins changes register and tone, by staging a clandestine struggle – because without the knowledge of the father – between two forms of psychopathology and therefore in passing finally opposes quite spontaneously the state of mind of the film of d’ origin by arousing in the viewer empathy for Leena. Because as we know, now between the murderous decadence of the privileged and the abyss of the freaks, the choice is no longer to be made. It is certainly a new cliché, this empathy for the asocial, “other” assassin, and Esther does not escape this, especially since beyond her madness, it is also a woman in love.
In this fight between the protagonists, the spectator if he has no doubt that Leena will get out of it, stays by her side, almost an accomplice in her actions. And during the finale which reconnects with the Gothic heritage – house in flames, nocturnal apocalypse on a roof – when she gets rid of her enemies, that blood spurts on her, it is paradoxically a figure of innocence stained illustrated by the filmmaker, as if he were deciding ultimately to immobilize it in this age, between angel of death and childhood. Esther 2 Although it may be a fairly minor object, it remains clever and quite fascinating in these permanent destabilizing effects, in a play on reality and its dark double, which will excel in its very beautiful final credits. If the photo of Karim Hussein is quite uneven, it experiments by operating a particularly interesting progressive work of recourse to color, outrageously muffled, almost erased at first, then gradually recovering its contrast, as if it were following the path of his character, who now can take flesh as a cinematic monster.
Few video supplements accompany this edition, but on the other hand the booklet orchestrated by Nicolas Rioult is particularly interesting. We feel that he fell in love with Esther 2which he places alongside exciting cursed sequels such as Psycho II of Richard Franklin and a few others. If we can judge his enthusiasm a bit disproportionate, he nevertheless brilliantly defends the film, and offers an enlightened analysis, offering very relevant leads. The interviews he then conducted with the director William Brent Bell, the chief op Karim Hussein and the illustrator Zsombo Huszka contribute to the development of a film much less innocuous than the project would suggest and which, despite its imperfections still highly recommended.
DVD, Blu-Ray and UHD available from Metropolitan Films
© All rights reserved. Culturopoing.com is an entirely voluntary site (Association of law 1901) and respects the copyrights, in the respect of the work of the artists whom we seek to develop. The photos visible on the site are for illustrative purposes only, not for the purpose of commercial exploitation and are not the property of Culturopoing. However, if a photograph had nevertheless escaped our control, it will be removed immediately. We count on the kindness and vigilance of each reader – anonymous, distributor, press officer, artist, photographer.
Please contact Bruno Piszczorowicz (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Olivier Rossignot (email@example.com).