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Film / Case 39

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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.

Tropes used in Case 39 include:

  • Abusive Parents: The reason why Emily was assigned Lilith's case. Darkly justified; Lilith turns out to be a demon, and her parents were trying to get rid of her.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lilith.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Emily manages to kill Lilith by driving into the water and drowning her, ending the child's reign of terror for good. She gets herself out, but is likely to be permanently traumatized and might face jail time. And in the alternate ending where Lilith survives, she does.
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  • Broken Record: "Why Emily? Why Emily? Why Emily?..."
  • Creepy Child: Lily starts to show signs of this. And it turns out that she's actually a demon.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The hound that stalks Mike in the garage park until he gets in his car, then ...
  • Enfant Terrible: Lilith is actually a demon.
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lilith is usually cheerful and upbeat, even as she's chasing her intended victims who are aware of her true nature. And it's chilling.
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  • Humanoid Abomination: Lilith looks like an average little girl,but is a demonic entity with a sick sense of humour that managed to procure a human body for itself, and when Emily crashes her car into the lake, she shows her true nature with otherworldly growling and manifesting a monstrous hand to try and drag Emily to the depths with her.
  • 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 is the name of a demon from the Talmud. Turns out Lilith in the movie is actually a demon.
  • 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.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: What did you expect when you named your child after a demoness?
  • 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. They also didn't just show scenes out of context. They actually created all new scenes that are nowhere in the film.
  • 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."
  • The Other Rainforest: Set in Portland, Oregon.
  • Our Demons Are Different: In this case, the demon was a spirit that slipped into Lilith's body at birth.
  • 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.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Despite looking and acting very innocent, Lilith ends up being a horrible demon who makes people kill themselves by using their worst fears against them.
  • 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.