6. Orphan (2009)
Orphan is one of those films that’s largely unremarkable, but its shocking twist makes it so thoroughly unforgettable that it elevates it far beyond the sum of its parts. After adopting a young Russian girl named Esther, the Coleman family begin to suspect something may be amiss. Their first clue is that Esther is far more worldly than a girl of nine years old should be, and their second is that she has a tendency to murder small animals and violently attack people.
Orphan brilliantly builds tension throughout, but the third-act reveal that Esther isn’t a child at all, but a 33-year-old woman with hypopituitarism (a rare hormonal disorder that has caused proportional dwarfism) is the film’s most unforgettable moment. Esther removing her makeup and attempting to seduce her adoptive father is one of the most unsettling scenes ever devised, and Orphan‘s explosively violent conclusion is deeply disturbing.
Although Orphan is best known for its shocking twist, it’s a solidly made psychological horror that builds a sense of mystery and suspense even as it approaches its big reveal. It makes brutal use of some of the most insensitive storytelling ever conceived, but that only serves to make it all the more memorable. Orphan remains somewhat divisive, but one thing is undeniable: it’s not a film you forget, and that horror movie power makes it one of the ’00s best.