Film / Case 39

Case 39 is a 2009 (released 2010 in the USA) horror film starring Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper. Zellweger plays Emily, a Child Services worker who's working thirty-eight cases—and then saddled with one more. It's Case 39 that leads Emily into strange, sinister territory, with suspicious parents and a little girl who may not be all that she seems.

Reviews were middling to negative, complaining about an unoriginal plot.

Tropes used in Case 39 include:

  • Evil Sounds Deep: Lilith's voice deepens whenever her demonic side manifests itself.
  • Eye Scream: After Lilith's father stabs an inmate whom Lilith spoke through, he accidentally stabs himself in the eye with a fork.
    • Also the scene with Doug hallucinating. You get to see in close-up detail a bug crawling from his eye, opposed to the scene with Lilith's father, where you see hardly anything.
  • Kill It with Fire: Lilith's parents tried doing this to her (specifically, by roasting her in their oven). Emily and Mike stopped them. Later, Emily attempts this by burning down her house while Lilith is sedated. It doesn't work. Inverted when Emily does ultimately Kill It With Water.
  • Meaningful Name: Lilith
  • Mood Whiplash: After Emily locks herself in her room and hides under her bed, Lilith —- who at this point uses her super strength to break through Emily's bedroom door—- comes in menacingly, looking for her. She finds Emily under her bed, and the first thing she does is smile and ask "What are you doing down there, you silly pumpkinhead?" before quickly switching back to Creepy Child mode.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Trailers suggested that a demon was after Lilith, and her parents planned to sacrifice her in order to save themselves. In the actual film, Lilith is the demon, and her parents were actually justified in trying to kill her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lilith, when she realizes Emily isn't scared after trying to trick her with an illusion of her mother driving fast when it was raining and Emily asks her, "Are you scared? I'm not."
  • Our Demons Are Different
  • Our Souls Are Different: Lilith's father explains to Emily how each person is given an eternal soul when they are born. This is the source of Lilith's problem: when she was born, a demon slipped into her body instead of a soul.
  • The Soulless: Lilith.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Hornets. Crosses over with Eye Scream. A hornet crawls out of Doug's eye.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Played with. Lilith plays the role of a girl abused by her parents, leading Emily to eventually break into their house when they're about to burn her in the oven. As we later learn, Lilith was the truly abusive one in the house, and Emily "rescuing" her saved her life and allowed her to move on to another victim.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Emily falls in to this several times. Both as she is trying to explain that there is something wrong with Lilith's home situation and then as she is trying to explain that something is off about Lilith.