CASE 39 (Christian Alvart). 109 minutes. Opens Friday (October 1). For venues, trailers and times, see Listings. Rating: NN
It doesn't say much for a supernatural thriller when the scariest moments are in the first 10 minutes.
They belong to Callum Keith Rennie as a deeply disturbed dad with a nasty plan for his young daughter (Jodelle Ferland). All the movie's energy and tension go into those opening scenes. After that, the pace falters and the scares are strictly paint-by-number.
Renée Zellweger is the social worker who rescues the girl and takes her in. Supernatural murders ensue. Zell weger plays the clichéd character with stereotypical compassion, fear and determination.
Bradley Cooper as her best friend blows her off the screen in the movie's two better moments: a nicely underplayed chilling conversation with the girl and a bug attack that he meets with more than mere panic.
Supernatural creatures aren't required to make sense, but movie convention suggests they should at least behave consistently; when a character explains a creature, they should get it right.
Case 39's creature is all over the map. Variously, it eats life essence, wants its victims to live in hell and, if you go by its actions, just wants to kill them.
The point to beings from beyond is that they should emotionally resonate with the viewer. This one goes thud.