Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (House Of Wax remake) and written by David Leslie Johnson, this schlocky and overlong reworking of The Bad Seed spends a little too much time trying to give the characters "character" before moving on to the gory, nasty stuff, yet it demands to be seen on a big screen with an audience caught up in the carnage and cheering for blood.
When nine-year-old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), an oddly old-fashioned Russian orphan with impeccable manners, is adopted by architect Peter Sarsgaard and his troubled piano teacher wife Vera Farmiga, everything looks rosy but all is, inevitably, not what it seems. Cue murder and mayhem and one very disturbing scene in which Esther, as manipulative and creepy a villain as you're likely to see, comes on to Sarsgaard. (Although the twist ending puts an altogether different spin on it.)
Quite how Farmiga's former alcoholic who, while drunk, allowed her daughter to fall into a pond thus rendering her permanently deaf, would be allowed to adopt is, I suppose, something of a moot point. But the adults are, largely, such idiots, that you're almost tempted to side with the deranged Esther, although it's deeply unpleasant and downright disturbing when she turns her malevolent attentions to Sarsgaard and Farmiga's two other kids, insisting the youngest, Max (Aryana Engineer) play a spot of Russian roulette.
It's clichéd, exploitative rubbish, but entertaining rubbish nonetheless.