Case 39 (Movie)

Title — Case 39
Available on — Hoopla, Showtime Apple TV Channel, Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft Store
Production Country — United States, Canada
Release Date — 2009
A naïve social worker brings a 10-year-old child into her home to rescue the girl from abusive parents – only to learn that she isn't what she seems.

🪶 Story & Synopsis

In “Case 39,” social worker Emily Jenkins, portrayed by RenĂ©e Zellweger, takes on the case of a young girl named Lilith Sullivan, played by Jodelle Ferland. Initially believing Lilith’s parents to be loving, Emily soon uncovers their sinister intentions of trying to kill Lilith, convinced she is possessed by a demon. As Emily delves deeper into protecting Lilith, she faces chilling events that blur the lines of reality and sanity.

🧑 Cast & Crew

RenĂ©e Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie, Adrian Lester, Kerry O’Malley, Cynthia Stevenson, Alexander Conti, Philip Cabrita

Actor Role
Renée Zellweger Emily Jenkins
Jodelle Ferland Lillith “Lily” Sullivan
Ian McShane Mike Barron
Bradley Cooper Dr. Douglas J. Ames
Callum Keith Rennie Edward Sullivan
Kerry O’Malley Margaret Sullivan
Adrian Lester Wayne
Georgia Craig Denise
Cynthia Stevenson Nancy
Alexander Conti Diego

đź’¬ Reviews and feedback

Ever wondered what would happen if you combined the creepiness of “The Omen” with the bureaucratic grind of social work? Well, buckle up, buttercups, because “Case 39” is here to answer that very question! Let’s dive into this rollercoaster ride that’s part horror flick, part psychological thriller, and a whole lotta “What did I just watch?”

First off: Is Case 39 a good movie? Well, let me put it this way—if movies were school grades, “Case 39” might be the kid in the corner just trying to pass with a C-minus. Critics were not kind; Rotten Tomatoes has it languishing at a dismal 21%, and it averages a less-than-stellar 4.0/10. But hey, every rose has its thorns—or in this case, maybe more thorns than rose petals.

The Plot:

The story revolves around Emily Jenkins (played by Renée Zellweger), a dedicated social worker who takes her job home—literally—by rescuing a young girl named Lilith from her abusive parents. But as Emily soon finds out, Lilith is not your average innocent child caught in an unfortunate situation. Nope! This kiddo packs more punch than your average demonic possession case. The plot thickens as Emily discovers that Lilith might actually be harboring something far more sinister than bad parenting vibes.

Themes and Tone:

The movie tries hard to blend elements of horror and psychological thriller but often ends up feeling like it’s at an awkward middle-school dance—unsure whether to slow dance or rock out to some heavy metal. The theme of uncovering hidden dangers behind seemingly innocent facades is compelling but is executed unevenly.

Acting and Characters:

  • RenĂ©e Zellweger: As Emily Jenkins, she nails the role of the overworked yet caring social worker who’s in way over her head. She brings layers of vulnerability and determination to her character.
  • Jodelle Ferland: Playing Lilith Sullivan, Jodelle’s performance oscillates between endearing and downright chilling. She manages to keep you guessing about her true nature until the very end.
  • Ian McShane: As Detective Barron, McShane adds some much-needed gravitas to the film with his gruff demeanor and skeptical attitude toward supernatural explanations.


Christian Alvart directed “Case 39,” attempting to create an atmosphere filled with dread and uncertainty. While he succeeds in building tension during certain scenes, others fall flat or feel overly formulaic.


The musical score by Michl Britsch does its job but doesn’t particularly stand out. It leans heavily on eerie compositions designed to keep you on edge—but sometimes it feels like someone hit ‘repeat’ on the same spooky track.

Cinematography & Production Design:

  • The cinematography oscillates between effectively claustrophobic shots that heighten tension and more mundane sequences that don’t add much visually.
  • Production design deserves props for creating an unsettling environment—especially Emily’s house once Lilith moves in. There’s something inherently creepy about domestic spaces turned into battlegrounds for supernatural warfare.

Special Effects:

If there’s one area where “Case 39” could have used some extra TLC (tender loving care), it’s special effects. The demonic manifestations are neither particularly original nor terrifying—they’re more like budget-friendly Halloween decorations than spine-chilling horrors.

Editing & Pace:

  • The editing could best be described as serviceable but not exceptional; some scenes drag on longer than necessary while others feel abruptly cut short.
  • The pacing suffers from these inconsistencies—it fluctuates between sluggish exposition dumps and frenetic action sequences without finding a comfortable rhythm.

Pace & Dialog:</P
<>The dialog ranges from genuinely engaging exchanges between characters to clunky lines that seem ripped straight from Horror Movie Clichés 101.

Binge-Watching Tips:

  • If you’re planning a horror movie marathon,<Em Case 39 </Emmight serve best as a warm-up act rather than headliner.
    </Li<li Keep snacks handy—you might find yourself craving comfort food during some of the less thrilling moments.
    </Li<li Lights off! This movie benefits immensely from being watched in complete darkness—though you might still sleep soundly afterward.
    <Strong Practical Tips Insightful Trivia:
  • Lilith’s name has roots in mythology—the demoness Lilith is often depicted as Adam’s first wife who turned into a monster after rebelling against him.
    </Li<li If you’re intrigued by possessed children theme consider watching classics like <Em The Exorcist </Emor modern hits such as <EmThe Babadook.
    < Strong Interactive Element Question for You:
    What length would go protect child if found out they weren’t quite human? Sound off comments below!
    <P Conclusion:
    Summarizing key points: <Em Case 39 </Empresents mixed bag cinematic elements—from strong performances by Renée Zellweger Jodelle Ferland shaky special effects pacing issues ultimately leaves viewers divided whether worth time investment.
    Humorous Remark: If thinking about rescuing demon-possessed kid next weekend project suggest maybe stick binge-watching Netflix instead—you’ll thank later!
    Rating: Solid6/10
  • Pros Cons
    RenĂ©e Zellweger’s performance Weak special effects
    Interesting premise Below average horror and psychological thriller
    Some thrilling moments Not particularly scary
    Entertaining and gruesome Unsatisfying horror flick
    Engaging storyline Soulless amalgamation of horror classics


    • Case 39 - Wikipedia

      109 minutes Countries United States


      Language English Budget $26 million Box office $28.2 million

      Case 39is a 2009 American supernatural horror film directed by Christian Alvart, and starring Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Bradley Cooper, and Ian McShane. The film revolves around a social worker who attempts to protect a girl from her violent parents but finds that things are more dangerous than she had expected.

    • Case 39 (2009) - IMDb

      A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.

    • Case 39 (2009) - Plot - IMDb

      • A social worker fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected.
      • Social worker Emily Jenkins (RenĂ©e Zellweger) is assigned to investigate the family of ten year-old Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), as her grades have declined and an emotional rift with her parents has emerged. Emily suspects that the parents have been mistreating Lilith, and proposes to her department to take the child away from her parents’ custody. Emily’s fears are confirmed when Lilith’s parents try to kill her by roasting her in the oven at their home. Emily saves Lilith with the help of Detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane). Lilith is originally sent to a children’s home, but she begs Emily to look after her instead. With the agreement of the board, Emily is assigned to take care of Lilith until a suitable foster family comes along. In the meantime, Lilith’s parents, Edward and Margaret (Callum Keith Rennie and Kerry O’Malley), are placed in a mental institution.Not too long after Lilith moves in, strange things begin to happen around Emily. Two weeks later, another of Emily’s cases, a boy named Diego (Alexander Conti), suddenly murders his parents, and Barron informs Emily that somebody phoned Diego from her house the night before the crime. As she is suspected of involvement in the incident, Lilith undergoes a psychiatric evaluation by Emily’s best friend, Douglas J. Ames (Bradley Cooper). During the session, however, Lilith turns the evaluation around, asking Douglas what his fears are and subtly threatening him. That night while studying he receives a strange phone call in his apartment, Douglas is panicked by the sight of a mass of hornets coming out of his body and kills himself in his bathroom by snapping his own neck.Emily gradually becomes fearful of having Lilith in her home, so she heads to the mental asylum for answers from Lilith’s parents. They tell her that Lilith is a demon who feeds on feelings, and that they tried to kill her in an attempt to save themselves. Lilith’s father tells Emily that the only way to kill Lilith is to get her to sleep. Shortly after Emily leaves the asylum, both parents die in unusual circumstances. Lilith’s mother is fatally burnt and her father is stabbed in the eye with a fork after attacking a fellow inmate through whom the voice of Lilith spoke. Barron initially thinks Emily should seek psychiatric help, but is later convinced when he receives a strange phone call in his home from Emily’s cellphone, which is being used by Lilith. He arms himself at the police precinct to aid Emily in handling Lilith. However, he inadvertently shoots himself in the head with a shotgun when Lilith makes him imagine he is being attacked by dogs. After realizing all her most closest colleagues have been eliminated, this prompts Emily to serve Lilith tea spiked with sedative. While Lilith is asleep, Emily sets fire to her house, hoping to get rid of her. However, the girl escapes unharmed. A police officer escorts Emily and Lilith to a temporary place to sleep. As Emily is following the police cars, she suddenly takes a different route and drives her car at a high speed, hoping to bring fear to Lilith. Instead, Lilith forces Emily to relive her childhood memory of her mother driving fast in a rainstorm. Emily fights through the memory, telling herself that it is not real. The image fades, and Emily asks Lilith if she is afraid. Lilith now appears afraid as she knows that Emily is no longer afraid. Emily then drives the car off a pier. As the car sinks, Emily struggles to lock Lilith (now in demon form) in the trunk by folding the rear seats against her. Emily then exits the car, but as she swims away, Lilith grabs her leg after punching a hole through the car’s left tail light section. Emily struggles to break free until Lilith finally lets go as the car continues to sink. She climbs back ashore, relieved to be rid of her.


    • Case 39 | Rotten Tomatoes

      Director Christian Alvert has a certain stylish flair, but it’s wasted onCase 39’s frightless, unoriginal plot.

      Case 39Where to WatchCase 39

      Rent Case 39 on Fandango at Home, Prime Video, or buy it on Fandango at Home, Prime Video.

      What to KnowCritics ReviewsAudience ReviewsCast & Crew

      Christian AlvartDirectorRenĂ©e ZellwegerEmily JenkinsJodelle FerlandLillith SullivanIan McShaneDetective Mike BarronBradley CooperDoug AmesKerry O’MalleyMargaret Sullivan

    ⚠️ Explanation (Spoiler)

    In the 2009 supernatural horror film “Case 39,” directed by Christian Alvart and written by Roy Wright, the story revolves around social worker Emily Jenkins, played by RenĂ©e Zellweger, who takes in a young girl named Lilith, portrayed by Jodelle Ferland, from an abusive situation. However, as the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that Lilith is not an ordinary child, and strange and deadly events begin to occur to those around her.

    One of the significant events in the movie is when another child under Emily’s care, Diego, unexpectedly murders his parents one night. This incident is followed by Emily’s close friend Doug’s bizarre death, where he commits suicide after being attacked by a swarm of hornets in his bathroom. The eerie part is that both Diego and Doug had specific fears that seemed to have been exploited to cause their tragic ends. As the story progresses, it becomes evident that Lilith is somehow at the center of these horrifying occurrences, feeding on fear and emotions.

    Emily, growing increasingly suspicious of Lilith, delves into the girl’s past and discovers from Lilith’s parents, who are institutionalized for attempting to kill her, that Lilith is a demon who thrives on emotions and will drain Emily’s kindness until there’s nothing left. Realizing the danger Lilith poses, Emily attempts to kill her by burning the house with both of them inside. When this plan fails, Emily ultimately decides to drive into a lake with Lilith in the car, leaving the girl trapped as the car sinks.

    The ending of “Case 39” raises questions about the cost of breaking the cycle of terror. While Emily succeeds in stopping Lilith’s reign of terror by sacrificing herself and trapping Lilith in the sinking car, there are implications for Emily’s own fate. As many of Lilith’s manipulative tactics involve illusions seen only by her victims, Emily may face challenges in proving the true nature of Lilith’s threat. The movie hints at a possible scenario where Emily might have difficulty justifying her actions, especially since Lilith’s new foster family was willing to take her in shortly before the climax. An alternate ending even shows Lilith being rescued from the sinking car, leading to Emily being accused of attempted murder and facing the consequences.

    Despite its mixed reception among critics and at the box office, “Case 39” stands out for its execution and the exploration of characters in a familiar horror premise. The film’s ending, with its dark and dramatic resolution, leaves viewers contemplating the cost of confronting evil and the potential repercussions of taking drastic measures to protect others from supernatural threats.

    đź‘Ş Parents Guide & Age Rating


    Age Rating:

    This movie is rated R for strong violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.

    Parental Guide:

    Parents need to know that “Case 39” is a supernatural horror film with intense violence and disturbing scenes, making it unsuitable for younger viewers. The movie features graphic violence, including a man being stabbed in the neck with a fork and another man being impaled in the eye by the same fork, resulting in bloody and gory imagery. Additionally, there are scenes of a disfigured woman with a burned red face hunting a terrorized woman, adding to the overall creepy and intense atmosphere of the movie. Strong language and some drinking are also present in the film. Due to these elements, this movie is recommended for mature audiences only.

    đź“ş Streaming and where to watch

    streaming service extra information
    Paramount Plus Apple TV Channel Available for streaming on Paramount Plus Apple TV Channel.
    Hoopla Available for streaming on Hoopla.
    Showtime Apple TV Channel Available for streaming on Showtime Apple TV Channel.
    Apple TV Can be bought or rented on Apple TV.
    Amazon Video Can be bought or rented on Amazon Video.
    Google Play Movies Can be bought or rented on Google Play Movies.
    YouTube Can be bought or rented on YouTube.
    Vudu Can be bought or rented on Vudu.
    Microsoft Store Can be bought or rented on Microsoft Store.

    âťť Quotes and Cult

    • Everybody has fears... now, what scares you?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Me.
    • You scare yourself?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Sometimes.
    • Why?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • I have bad thoughts.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • About what?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • People.
    • People in general or... certain people?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Certain people.
    • Like who?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • You.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • You have bad thoughts about me? Why?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • I just do.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Did I do something or say something that upset you?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • It's just... the way you are.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • How am I?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Facile.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Facile? Pfff... do you even know what that means?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Easily comprehended, often lacking sincerity or depth. You're smug too... want me to tell you what that means?
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Uhm, If I... seem smug or facile, I want...
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Don't apologize.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Why not?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • You're a grown-up... it's embarrassing.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Number 12, I worry about what's going to happen. Yes or no?
      Lillith Sullivan
    • You want me to answer that?
      Douglas J. Ames
    • No.
    • That should be a yes.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • What does she want?
      Emily Jenkins
    • To know what your idea of hell is... and make you live there.
      Edward Sullivan
    • They say when you're born you're given your eternal soul. The part of you that lives on, lives again. Whatever evil she is didn't come from us. It was already there. From the moment she came into being, she brought something with her. Something older, destructive. Soul of a demon.
      Edward Sullivan
    • I can see you.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • You know, none of this should have happened. If I could make it go away, I would.
      Emily Jenkins
    • You *did*.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • I talk to a lot of kids, I don't think I've ever felt like that before.
      Douglas J. Ames
    • Like what?
      Emily Jenkins
    • Threatened.
    • What are you doing, you silly pumpkinhead?
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Are you scared? I'm not.
      Emily Jenkins
    • Get out of my house!
      Emily Jenkins
    • Don't yell at me!
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Shut the f*** up, you miserable woman! Before I come down there and beat your ass like you beat your son, I have your address! So, you better think twice before you call me and start swearing at me!
      Emily Jenkins
    • You believe in there, but out here it's all just bullshit?
      Emily Jenkins
    • Hey! Wait a minute. Who do you think you are, barging in there like that?
    • It's okay, Diane, Emily's been under a lot of stress lately, but she's really nice to me and I hope I can stay with her a long time.
      Lillith Sullivan
    • Don't ever do that again.

    🤖Case 39 Reddit Talks

    Case 39: A Haunting Tale of Possession and Redemption


    “Case 39” follows Emily Jenkins (RenĂ©e Zellweger), a seasoned social worker who encounters a chilling case involving a young girl named Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). As Emily delves deeper into Lilith’s past, she uncovers a sinister secret: Lilith is possessed by a malevolent entity.

    Critical Reception:

    Upon its release, “Case 39” received mixed reviews. Some critics praised its effective jump scares and eerie atmosphere, while others criticized its predictable plot and reliance on clichĂ©s. However, the film has gained a cult following over the years, with many horror enthusiasts appreciating its unsettling premise and strong performances.

    Themes and Symbolism:

    “Case 39” explores several themes, including:

    • The Battle Between Good and Evil: Emily represents the forces of good, fighting to protect Lilith from the evil that possesses her.
    • The Fragility of Innocence: Lilith’s possession symbolizes the vulnerability of children and the devastating impact of trauma.
    • The Power of Redemption: Despite the horrors she endures, Emily ultimately finds redemption by sacrificing herself to save Lilith.

    Discussion Points on Reddit:

    1. The Nature of Possession:

    Redditors debated the nature of Lilith’s possession. Some argued that it was a genuine case of demonic influence, while others suggested it was a manifestation of psychological trauma.

    2. Emily’s Role as a Hero:

    Emily’s unwavering determination to protect Lilith drew praise from many Redditors. They admired her courage and compassion, even in the face of unimaginable evil.

    3. The Predictability of the Plot:

    Some Redditors criticized “Case 39” for its predictable plot, arguing that it followed a formulaic horror movie structure. Others, however, defended the film, claiming that its effectiveness lay in its execution rather than its originality.

    4. The Impact of Trauma:

    The film’s depiction of Lilith’s trauma resonated with many Redditors. They discussed the devastating effects of abuse and neglect on children, and how it can manifest in different ways, including possession.

    5. The Ending:

    The abrupt and ambiguous ending of “Case 39” sparked much discussion. Some Redditors found it unsatisfying, while others appreciated its open-ended nature, inviting viewers to interpret the outcome for themselves.


    “Case 39” remains a divisive film, but its chilling premise, strong performances, and exploration of complex themes have ensured its status as a cult classic. Whether you find it genuinely terrifying or merely a competent horror flick, there’s no denying its ability to provoke discussion and linger in the minds of viewers long after the credits roll.

    Top discussions

    âť“ Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the story behind Case 39?

    The film revolves around a social worker who attempts to protect a girl from her violent parents but finds that things are more dangerous than she had expected.

    Is the little girl in Case 39 possessed?

    Renée Zellweger is perfect as the horror movie queen being terrorized by a little girl who has been taken into state custody but who also just so happens to be possessed by a demon in the movie Case 39.

    What demon is in Case 39?

    Emily gradually becomes fearful of Lillith, so she heads to the mental asylum for answers from Lillith’s parents. They tell her that, far from being truly human, Lillith is actually a Succubus-like demon who feeds on emotion.

    What happened to Doug in Case 39?

    That night while studying he receives a strange phone call in his apartment, Douglas is panicked by the sight of a mass of hornets coming out of his body and kills himself in his bathroom by snapping his own neck.

    What city was Case 39 filmed in?

    The film was shot in Vancouver in late 2006 and was released theatrically in the UK, other European, and in Latin American countries on August 13, 2009.

    What streaming service has Case 39?

    Case 39 is available to watch on Paramount Plus. Sign up to stream the movie about a social worker battling dark forces to protect a young girl from abusive parents.

    🔀 Recommended Movie and TV Show

    1. Orphan: A couple who adopts a young girl soon discovers she is not as innocent as she seems.
    2. The Omen: A diplomat’s son turns out to be the Antichrist, causing mysterious deaths and strange occurrences.
    3. The Ring: A journalist investigates a cursed videotape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it.
    4. The Possession: A young girl becomes possessed by a dybbuk box, causing chaos for her family.
    5. Deliver Us from Evil: A New York police officer investigates a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes.
    6. It Follows: After a sexual encounter, a young woman finds herself haunted by a mysterious and deadly force.
    7. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren try to uncover the truth behind a murder linked to demonic possession.
    8. The Grudge: A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost, leading to a series of terrifying events for its inhabitants.
    9. The Lodge: A family is trapped in a remote winter cabin with a sinister presence that begins to haunt them.
    10. The Eye: A woman receives an eye transplant that allows her to see into the supernatural world.

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