Oh boy, where to begin? How about here: Case 39 is an aggressively inept demon-seed chiller starring a bunch of grown-ups who should’ve known better. Directed by Christian Alvert (Pandorum), this star-studded mess arrives in theaters bearing the no-confidence stamp: ''Not screened in advance for critics.'' It also comes with the lingering stench of mothballs because the movie, which looks so drab and washed-out you might think it was shot on recycled wax paper instead of celluloid, was actually filmed back in 2006. Why did Paramount bother to trot this dusty dud out to multiplexes instead of letting it quietly shuffle off to the DVD remainder bin where it so obviously belongs? Well, it turns out that Case 39 managed to scare up a few million bucks in Spain and Mexico (you’re welcome, amigos!), giving the studio hope that maybe their flick wasn’t that bad after all. Well, guess what? It’s every bit that bad…and then some.
Renee Zellweger half-heartedly plays a crusading social worker who’s assigned to the case of a cute, 10-year-girl named Lily (Jodelle Ferland) whose creepy parents try to lock her in the oven and incinerate her. They must be nuts, right? Not so fast. After Zellweger’s conscience fuels her to adopt Lily, she quickly discovers that maybe the parents weren’t so loco after all that the moody moppet is no Jonathan Lipnicki and probably as deadly as Damien. Speaking of which, even if you’ve never sat through The Omen or The Bad Seed or Orphan or Joshua, you’ve seen this hackneyed, hell-spawn hooey before. Why does Lily do it? I sat through the thing and I still have no clue. But Bradley Cooper, who turns up in a thankless role shot before The Hangover saved him from doing more of these kinds of movies, sure doesn’t stick around long enough to find out. Trust me, he got off easy. D-