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Movies That Shattered Celebrity Marriages
You know how you love to watch sparks fly between your favorite characters on screen? Well, in some cases, those sparks are believable because they were flying in real life too. The concept of co-stars experiencing real attraction and developing real feelings is certainly nothing new. It has happened during a number of movies throughout the years. The problem with that is sometimes one or both of the actors are already married!
At other times, the culprit is too much time spent away from home or maybe even too much pressure from increasing fame. When disruptive factors come into play while filming a movie, the results can be disastrous for couples. Let’s take a look at some of the most notorious movies that shattered celebrity marriages.
Mind Over Murder
Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott were both married to other people when they met on the set of the Lifetime TV movie Mind Over Murder . McDermott even had a child with his wife. Still, their chemistry was so strong that they spent the night together on the same day they met!
After that, they continued spending time together, both breaking off their relationships with their respective spouses. Less than a year after filming, Spelling and McDermott eloped in Fiji. The couple went on to have five children together, and they are still together and going strong (although with a few bumps along the way). They have even had a reality television series together.
Today, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are a couple’s goal for their many Instagram followers, but not all those followers realize they met on the set of Green Lantern . Even though Reynolds was married to beauty Scarlett Johansson at the time, he and Lively were caught looking like more than friends during filming.
Lively, who was dating Penn Badgley at the time, broke up with him shortly after filming wrapped. Reynolds also divorced Johansson around the same time. (You do the math.) The popular pair married back in 2012 and are still seemingly deep in love today.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Brad Pitt’s divorce from America’s sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston, came from what is probably one of the most well-known celebrity cheating scandals out there. Pitt met co-star Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith , and the two immediately hit it off.
The duo quickly fell in love, and those on the set talked about their “undeniable chemistry.” Pitt and Aniston divorced soon after the rumors started flying. Pictures of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie circulated soon after that when the new couple vacationed together in Africa. Eventually, the pair married, all because an on-screen romance heated up off camera as well.
Marilyn Monroe had been married to playwright Arthur Miller for four years when they worked together on the film The Misfits . It was reported that Monroe became annoyed with her husband when she worked with him, as he kept making rewrites that she perceived as sexist.
At the time of filming, Monroe’s health was declining, and the pair apparently couldn’t stand being trapped and working together for months. They divorced, and it ended up being the last film that Monroe ever made. She died a year after the movie’s release. Ironically, critics called it her finest performance.
House of Wax
After the horror movie’s filming, it was revealed that Chad Michael Murray had hooked up with Paris Hilton. At the time, Hilton was dating Nick Carter, and Murray was married to Sophia Bush. In fact, the two had only been married for five months when news of Murray’s cheating came out, prompting their divorce.
The scandal actually resulted in more media coverage for the less-than-stellar horror flick, although many criticized the film itself. Who would have thought that a fun horror movie could actually shatter a real-life marriage? It definitely happens.
Rachel Weisz was in a long-term relationship with Darren Aronofsky for nearly 10 years when she started filming Dream House . Daniel Craig was her co-star in the film, and the two were immediately drawn to each other. Despite both Weisz and Craig being engaged to other people, the pair fell in love on set.
Their romance resulted in Craig and Weisz both calling off their engagements. The couple came clean to the public after filming and were married just seven months later. They are still together today but keep their relationship very private.
Who would have guessed another Lifetime movie would break up a marriage? (It’s supposed to be the feel-good, happy-ending network!) That’s exactly what happened on the set of Northern Lights . Eddie Cibrian, who was married to a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills , Brandi Glanville, was in the film and cheated on his wife with married co-star LeAnn Rimes.
It seems that the chemistry between the two was the real deal, because after Cibrian divorced his wife and Rimes divorced her husband, the two got married in 2011. The couple is still seemingly happily married, and their hook-up inspired a lot of drama on Cibrian’s ex-wife’s reality series.
This 2003 film may have left viewers bored, but behind the scenes, there was a more interesting story happening. Co-stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner were on set together a lot, and they later admitted that’s when they fell in love, even though they had met before on Pearl Harbor .
The problem was that Jennifer Garner was already married to Scott Foley, and Ben Affleck was engaged to Jennifer Lopez. A year after the premiere of Daredevil , Affleck called off his engagement to JLo, and Garner divorced her husband. Sounds like a pretty messy superhero set!
Proof of Life
Meg Ryan was married to Dennis Quaid when she and Russell Crowe met on the set of Proof of Life . Crowe and Ryan were caught cuddling up, and there were rumors that more than just cuddling was going on. This caused Ryan and Quaid’s already crumbling marriage to finally fall apart.
The pair had a child at the time, and they ended up sharing custody after their public divorce. Ryan and Crowe never officially got together, so it would seem that whatever “spark” they experienced on set didn’t last long. Still, it shattered a marriage.
Days of Thunder
When Days of Thunder started filming, Tom Cruise was married to Mimi Rogers. There were rumors that the couple was already having marital issues due to Cruise’s cheating. Cruise met Nicole Kidman on the Days of Thunder set, and the two began having an affair.
Rogers found out and filed for divorce. After filming ended, Kidman and Cruise got married a year later and remained together for about 10 years. They even adopted two kids, but their love wasn’t meant to last, and they eventually divorced. There are rumors that Cruise’s affiliation with Scientology had something to do with their split.
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe famously got together on the set of the movie Cruel Intentions , but the film Stop Loss ended up wrecking their marriage. During filming, Phillippe hooked up with his co-star Abbie Cornish, according to countless rumors.
The rumors must have had some truth to them, because once Witherspoon and Phillippe officially separated, he and Cornish announced they were dating! The chemistry between the two didn’t last, and they broke up relatively quickly. (Worth it, right?) Phillippe still gets hassled for cheating on Witherspoon to this day — and rightfully so!
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton hated each other when they first started filming Cleopatra , but those negative feelings were clearly short lived. During their first kiss on set, the pair wouldn’t stop kissing, even after the director yelled cut!
Unfortunately, both of them were married at the time. Taylor was on her fourth marriage, and Burton was married to his first wife, Sybil Williams. Word of their kiss got out quickly, and both of their marriages were pretty much toast. After they divorced their spouses, the two married, got divorced — and then got married again! In 1976, however, they parted ways for good.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Fans of Twilight lost their minds when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson became a real-life couple. It seemed they would be together forever, but that all changed during the filming of Snow White and the Huntsman when Stewart met director Rupert Sanders.
Sanders was married with children at the time and was much older than Stewart, making the news of their affair even more shocking. Sander’s wife divorced him when she learned about his infidelity, and Pattinson decided to move on from Stewart too. They briefly reunited it, but it was never meant to be after the cheating fiasco. Twilight fans everywhere may still dream of the impossible, but they are wasting their time.
This movie was a total flop — except for what happened behind the cameras. This is the film where Ben Affleck met Jennifer Lopez. There was obviously something between them, because Lopez divorced her choreographer husband Cris Judd and started dating Affleck.
Within five months, “Bennifer” was engaged. It seems that Affleck has quite a problem separating his on-screen romances from real life, as we already discussed how this relationship ended when he met Jennifer Garner on the set of Daredevil . Maybe suffering through bad movies isn’t so bad when you’re hooking up with your co-star.
Really, Ben? Okay, so Ben Affleck really has issues when it comes to hooking up with other actors on set. While filming Gone Girl , Affleck struck again, but this time he didn’t opt for the leading lady. Rumors circulated that he hooked up with model-turned-actress Emily Ratajkowski, who ironically played Affleck’s character’s side piece in the film.
Garner found out and filed for divorce in 2017. Ratajkowski and Affleck didn’t stay together or even date. Maybe the third time isn’t a charm after all! Unlike his other hookups on set, at least this one came from a really great movie.
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Clint Eastwood is known for playing some of the best Western roles of all time. On the set of this particular Western, he met co-star Sondra Locke. The two reportedly did little to hide their relationship, even though Eastwood was married to Maggie Johnson at the time.
Eastwood’s wife had enough of his cheating scandals, so she divorced him. Locke and Eastwood lived together for a while, but the same chemistry that brought them together on set eventually fizzled out, at least from Eastwood’s perspective. The pair parted ways in 1989, but their relationship lasted a while in “Hollywood years.”
Directors can fall in love on set too! James Cameron, who was married to actress Linda Hamilton, quickly developed an infatuation with another woman while filming the blockbuster Titanic . While he was still married, Cameron actually started dating Suzy Amis during shooting.
Word of their blossoming relationship quickly got out, and Hamilton obviously wasn’t too happy about her husband openly seeing another woman. She divorced him, paving the way for Cameron and Amis to marry. Their relationship is still going strong, and they are seemingly happy and have three children.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Kenneth Branagh was married to Emma Thompson when he started filming Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . Helena Bonham Carter was also in the movie, and the two immediately felt an attraction to each other.
Branagh had been with his wife for five years, but that didn’t stop him from starting a relationship with Carter while on set. Eventually, he divorced Thompson, and Carter and Branagh were together until 1999. She and Thompson had some understandable issues for a long time, but it seems they are all good now. Strange how that works in Hollywood!
To Have and Have Not
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall went on to become one of the most famous couples in Hollywood history, but when they met, Bogart was already married. Even though the two had quite an age gap between them and, you know, the whole married-to-someone-else thing, the two fell in love. They said they started out as friends, and the romance developed throughout filming.
Bogart divorced his wife and married the 19 year old when he was 44. It must have been the real thing, because they stayed together until his death in 1957.
Infidelity isn’t the only thing on a movie set that can shatter a celebrity marriage. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie learned this while they were on the set of By the Sea together.
It’s unclear if things were rocky before they started filming. The movie is about a grieving couple, and maybe the two became too entrenched in their respective roles. Twelve years after Mr. & Mrs. Smith ripped apart Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston, By the Sea was the nail in the coffin for his marriage to Jolie. A year after its release, Jolie filed for divorce.
The Rum Diary
Technically, Johnny Depp wasn’t married to French singer Vanessa Paradis, but the pair had been together for 14 years and had two kids together! On the set of The Rum Diary , he met actress Amber Heard, who played his love interest in the film.
It seemed that the attraction between the two was unmistakable. Not long after the movie wrapped, Depp ended up leaving Paradis and marrying Heard. However, trouble brewed quickly in paradise. Heard and Depp had all sorts of marital issues, including allegations of domestic violence. The two divorced in 2017 after a very rocky relationship.
There has always been controversy surrounding actress Mia Farrow. She married Frank Sinatra when she was just 21, and he was 50. The two seemed very happy together, but in her autobiography, she wrote about difficulties she had with her husband while on the set of Rosemary’s Baby .
It turns out that things between the two were rough at the time. Add the prolonged shooting schedule of the film to an already strained relationship, and it resulted in trouble. Frustrated, Sinatra actually served Farrow with divorce papers while she was on the set of the movie!
Shia LaBeouf isn’t a name you hear very often anymore unless you watch a lot of indie films. He was married to Mia Goth for two years when he wrote and starred in the film Honey Boy . The movie was about his real-life, quite troubled relationship with his dad.
On set, he met a pop star named FKA Twigs, who played his character’s love interest. The two became interested in each other very quickly, and it caused LaBeouf to end his marriage. It’s unclear if FKA Twigs and LaBeouf were officially a couple or not, but rumors are definitely circulating that LaBeouf has reunited with Goth.
Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan met on the set of Planet Terror . At the time, Rodriguez was married to producer Elizabeth Avellan. McGowan and Rodriguez got together, which ended his marriage. After that, it became clear that the two were very toxic together.
They have admitted some pretty strange details of their relationship, including a time when Rodriguez made McGowan take a lie detector test to prove she wasn’t in love with Quentin Tarantino. Weird, right? The unhealthy relationship thankfully ended before things got even more toxic.
Billy Crudup wasn’t married to Mary-Louise Parker at the time this move was made, but they had been together for seven years. Oh, and Parker was also pregnant when Crudup started filming Stage Beauty . On set, he met the young Claire Danes. He was instantly attracted to her, so he broke up with his long-time, pregnant girlfriend!
Parker wrote about the heartbreak she endured as a result of the on-screen romance in her memoir. She even named their son after Crudup! Danes and Crudup didn’t work out either and went their separate ways. Worth it? That’s debatable.
Marilyn Manson wasn’t married to Dita Von Tesse for long, and part of the reason was that he met Evan Rachel Wood on the set of Phantasmagoria . They were both drawn to each other from the start, and Manson decided to divorce Tesse to be with Wood.
It may have seemed like a strange match, but the two appeared to have a lot of fun together — for a time. Wood and Manson were engaged for a short period before calling it quits. They have nothing bad to say about each other — but Tesse probably can’t say the same.
Dangerous Liaisons broke up the six-year marriage between John Malkovich and Glenne Headley. On set, Malkovich met co-star Michelle Pfeiffer, and the two hit it off on and off screen. They began an affair that ended up ruining Malkovich’s marriage.
The movie was very sexual in nature and may have fanned the flames of the attraction between the two. Either way, the affair was short lived. Both Pfeiffer and Malkovich went on to make a ton of blockbuster hits, and many believe Dangerous Liaisons was a key accomplishment for them both.
Ali MacGraw was married to producer Robert Evans when she started filming The Getaway alongside co-star Steve McQueen. MacGraw described her attraction to McQueen as “chemical,” so needless to say, the two became involved almost immediately when the film began shooting.
She eventually left her husband and married McQueen. They seemed to have a lot of ups and downs in their relationship after that. It finally became too much for them, and they divorced in 1977 after just five years of marriage. McQueen passed away three years later from cancer.
You, Me and Dupree
One of the lesser known on-set scandals was between Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson while filming the comedy You, Me and Dupree . At the time, Hudson was married to rock singer Chris Robinson, and the pair had been together for six years. Despite that, Hudson had an affair with Wilson that lasted six months.
As a result, she and Robinson divorced. Hudson and Owen got back together for a brief time, but it ended for good in 2008. Apparently, plenty of chemistry exists on comedy sets as well. We think they made a pretty adorable couple — even if the circumstances were deplorable.
Billy Bob Thornton was engaged and living with actress Laura Dern when he started filming Pushing Tin alongside co-star Angelina Jolie. It seems that she had a knack for getting in between couples, even before she met Brad. She and Thornton had a lot of chemistry, and he ultimately left Dern to be with Jolie. Dern was completely blindsided.
Thornton and Jolie got married in 2000, but it only lasted three years. We all remember those weird red carpet interviews, right? It’s probably a good thing the odd couple didn’t last, although Jennifer Aniston probably doesn’t agree, considering Brad Pitt was next on her radar.
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- 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 (Renée 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.
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2009, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 1h 49m
What to know
Director Christian Alvert has a certain stylish flair, but it's wasted on Case 39 's frightless, unoriginal plot. Read critic reviews
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Case 39 videos, case 39 photos.
In her many years as a social worker, Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) thinks she has seen it all -- until she meets 10-year-old Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) and the girl's cruel parents. When the parents try to harm the child, Emily assumes custody of Lilith while looking for a foster family. However, she soon finds that dark forces surround the seemingly innocent child, and the more she tries to protect Lilith, the more horrors she encounters.
Rating: R (Violence and Terror|Disturbing Images)
Genre: Horror, Mystery & thriller
Original Language: English
Director: Christian Alvart
Producer: Steve Golin , Kevin Misher
Writer: Ray Wright
Release Date (Theaters): Oct 1, 2010 wide
Release Date (Streaming): Jun 6, 2014
Box Office (Gross USA): $13.2M
Runtime: 1h 49m
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Production Co: Misher Films, Anonymous Content
Sound Mix: SDDS, Dolby Digital, DTS
Cast & Crew
Detective Mike Barron
Callum Keith Rennie
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Critic Reviews for Case 39
Audience reviews for case 39.
Was led to believe I could expect great things from Case 39. In my two experiences watching it, the first involved me falling asleep, and today (the second) had me checking my watch constantly. It's not even that long. It just drags. The Hell. On.
The strangely enticing opportunity to see comedic actress Renée Zellwegger as the stressed and confused foster parent of a contemporary Omen child cant save the disappointment that is met upon finishing the film. Unfortunately, Case 39 just isn't very memorable whatsoever. Alot of the scenes featured in the picture such as the repetetive circling on an office chair by the demonic child become quite grating and annoying. Whilst the film does have its fair share of genuinely intriguing twists and turns (the Hornets scene for example) and the performance by the young Jodelle Ferland is gripping enough to attain our attention throughout the duration, the film is generally a letdown.
While a Zellweger fan (and she does well here) this story about innocent looking and acting DEMON CHILD! has been done before and better, and hoping and wishing for a new wrinkle here won't make it real. Ahh, well ... better luck next time.
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. "Some cases should never be opened." Not as terrible as I expected, but I expected the worst. Case 39 is still just recycled parts from better evil kid horror movies, like The Bad Seed and Orphan. It ends up playing like a more entertaining form of The Good Son. It also has a lot of things that just don't add up when examined closely, but that is the least of its problems. The biggest problem the film has is that its target audience is going to hate it and find it repetitive in the least. The target audience for this film are the people who enjoy the evil kid horror genre. And guess what; we've seen them all. So this isn't going to cut it. When you try to make a movie like this, you have to come up with something new, strange, and terrifying to add to the formula. If you can't, the result will be a failure, like Case 39. The sweetness of the little girl is played off terribly. I don't know if that is a result of her acting skills or bad writing. It may just be a combination of the two. To be honest though, the movie does have a decent start. It all goes downhill quickly though, because the writing is terrible and stuff just doesn't add up. Why would the little girl be afraid of telling the social workers about her situation because the father gives her a nasty look? She's the evil one. I know we aren't supposed to know that then, but damn have some foresight in your fucking script. There is some entertainment value in the movies awfulness. I can say I was never bored by the movie. I can also say that a lot of the entertainment I got from it came from me laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the scenes. I could talk about everything I hated in the movie, but that would take all day. Let's just leave it by saying it's bad. Maybe if you have never seen another movie in the sub genre, you will find it intriguing; but if you have, I would suggest skipping it.
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Case 39 is a 2009 American psychological horror film directed by Christian Alvart, starring Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane.
- 4.1 Box Office
- 4.2 Critical Reception
- 5 Theatrical Trailer
Emily Jenkins (Renée Zellweger) is a social worker living in Oregon, who is assigned to investigate the family of ten-year-old Lillith "Lily" 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 Lily and her fears are confirmed when Lily's parents try to kill her by gassing her in the oven at home. Emily saves her with the help of Detective Mike Barron (Ian McShane).
Lily 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 Lily until a suitable foster family comes along. In the meantime, Lily's parents, Edward (Callum Keith Rennie) and Margaret (Kerry O'Malley) are placed in a mental institution.
Not too long after Lily 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, Lily undergoes a psychiatric evaluation by Emily's best friend, Douglas J. Ames (Bradley Cooper). During the session, however, Lily turns the evaluation around, asking Douglas what his fears are and subtly threatening him. That night after receiving a strange phone call, Douglas is panicked by a mass of hornets coming out of his body in hysteria and kills himself in his bathroom.
Emily gradually becomes fearful of Lily, so she heads to the mental asylum for answers from her parents. They tell her that, far from being truly human, Lily is actually a demon (like Lilith the Succubus) who feeds on emotion, and that they had tried to kill her in an attempt to save themselves.
Edward tells Emily that the only way to kill Lily is to get her to sleep. Shortly after Emily leaves the asylum, Margaret hallucinates being on fire and Edward is stabbed in the eye after attacking a fellow inmate through whom the voice of Lily spoke.
Barron initially thinks Emily should seek psychiatric help, but is later convinced when he receives a strange phone call in his home from Lily. He arms himself to help Emily, but he inadvertently shoots himself in the head with a shotgun, killing himself as a result when Lily makes him imagine he is being attacked by dogs.
After realizing that her closest colleagues have been eliminated and that the rest of her cases will be next, Emily gives Lily tea spiked with a sedative. While Lily is asleep, Emily sets fire to her house, hoping to get rid of her. However, Lily apparently escapes unharmed (from this point on, the audience may wonder whether Lily is really present or Emily is hallucinating her presence).
A police officer escorts Emily and Lily 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 Lily, but instead, Lily 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 Lily appears scared by the fact that Emily was able to fight through her illusion. Emily drives the car off a pier.
As the car sinks, Emily struggles to lock Lily (now in her demonic true form) in the trunk. Emily then attempts to swim to the surface. However, the demon grabs her foot to stop her swim away. Emily struggles and eventually breaks free as a trapped Lily sinks to the bottom. She climbs atop the pier and tries to recover from the ordeal.
- Renée Zellweger as Emily Jenkins
- Jodelle Ferland as Lillith "Lily" Sullivan
- Ian McShane as Detective Mike Barron
- Bradley Cooper as Douglas J. Ames
- Callum Keith Rennie as Edward Sullivan
- Kerry O'Malley as Margaret Sullivan
- Adrian Lester as Wayne
- Georgia Craig as Denise
- Cynthia Stevenson as Nancy
- Alexander Conti as Diego
Release [ ]
The film had many planned release dates since it first began production back in 2006.
Its initial planned US release was February 8, 2008 which was changed to February 22, 2008.
It was then moved to August 22, 2008 and then moved again to April 10, 2009. Then, it got pushed back to a January 1, 2010 and even further when the official US release date was confirmed to be October 1, 2010.
Its release date was also pushed back in Australia and Mexico.
In the UK, the film was originally scheduled for release in April of 2009 before being rescheduled to September 4, 2009, then September 25, 2009 and then December 11, 2009 where it was trailed in cinemas as part of the multi-film distributors' "Autumn Cinema" advertising campaign. It was finally released on March 5, 2010.
Reception [ ]
Box office [ ].
"Case 39" was released to New Zealand cinemas on August 13, 2009 and in its opening weekend was ranked #12 with NZ$35,056.
Averaging NZ$1,845 at the 19 cinemas it was released, the film failed to garner attendance.
The film opened at a small wide release in Australia, being shown on 85 screens. It ranked #12 in its opening weekend with a screen average of AU$2,077 for a gross of AU$176,526.
Extremely negative local reviews and a poor opening were followed by a 70% second weekend decrease. The film grossed a total of AU$332,956.
The film grossed a total of US$14,926,149 from its international run ahead of its U.S. release.
In its debut weekend in the United States, the film opened at #7 with an estimated US$5,350,000 in 2,211 theaters, averaging US$2,420 per cinema.
Critical Reception [ ]
"Case 39" received mostly negative reviews from critics.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 23% rating, based on 69 reviews, with the consensus stating, " Director Christian Alvert has a certain stylish flair, but it's wasted on Case 39's frightless, unoriginal plot. "
On Metacritic, the film has a score of 25 out of 100 (based on 15 critics), indicating "generally unfavorable reviews."
Gareth Jones of Dread Central gave the film 2 out of 5 knives, saying, " I'm sure it will do decent business among the undemanding weekend-horror crowd and Zellweger fans when it eventually sees the light of day. Nobody else need apply. "
Margaret Pomeranz of the Australian version of "At the Movies" gave the film one out of 5 stars, calling it " one of the least scary, dumbest movies I’ve seen in a long time. "
Co-host David Stratton gave it 1½ out of 5, commenting that " once it sort of kicks into the plot – once it really gets down to the nitty gritty, like so many horror films it just becomes really ridiculous and silly. "
Theatrical Trailer [ ]
Case 39 Movie Trailer
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Common Sense Media Reviewers
Dull "killer kid" tale features violence involving children.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie suggests that evil lurks everywhere, eve
Emily is a social worker who ostensibly wants to h
Some violence involving children, including a sequ
Some flirting between grown-ups.
A couple of uses of "f--k" and "s--
Characters drink Heineken beer in a bar.
Adults drink a beer in a bar, and the main charact
Parents need to know that Case 39 is part of the "killer children" horror subgenre, in which children are shown to be evil and homicidal; it's a psychologically effective and scary idea, but this movie is mainly out for shocks rather than exploring anything deeper. There's lots of…
The movie suggests that evil lurks everywhere , even in the sweetest and most innocent of children. You can't trust anybody or anything, and there's never any attempt to learn anything, to turn things around for the better, or to find hope in the world.
Positive Role Models
Emily is a social worker who ostensibly wants to help children, but this doesn't come from a place of generosity. She's frustrated and stressed and apparently incapable of forming any meaningful relationships of her own. She's short and abrupt with people and quick to mistrust them. Once she decides that the child is evil, she never really tries to help; her first impulse is to try to kill the child.
Violence & Scariness
Some violence involving children, including a sequence in which two parents push a girl into an oven and light it. She escapes, but the father pushes his boot into her back to stop her. They duct tape her mouth and smash her hand in the oven door. In another sequence, a boy kills his parents with a tire iron, though no actual "contact" is shown; viewers see blood on the walls and pillows. Adults fight: Viewers see a man with a broken jaw, a man gets stabbed in the neck with a fork, and another man falls on the same fork (it impales him in the eye). Also images of a woman on fire, a dog attack, shooting guns, a speeding car (with a child on board), a burning house, scary demons, and several sudden shocks.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.
A couple of uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "hell," "ass," and "oh my God."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.
Products & Purchases
Drinking, drugs & smoking.
Adults drink a beer in a bar, and the main character enjoys a glass of wine at home. The main character also grinds up sleeping pills into a cup of tea to give to the demon child.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Case 39 is part of the "killer children" horror subgenre, in which children are shown to be evil and homicidal; it's a psychologically effective and scary idea, but this movie is mainly out for shocks rather than exploring anything deeper. There's lots of violence, including some scenes involving children (in one particularly disturbing sequence, adults push a girl into an oven and light it), as well as other deaths and injuries. Language includes a few uses of "f--k" and "s--t," while sex, drinking, and drugs aren't prevalent. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .
Where to Watch
Videos and photos.
- Parents say (5)
- Kids say (23)
Based on 5 parent reviews
Another edge of your seat movie
Worth watching..., what's the story.
Stressed social worker Emily Jenkins ( Renee Zellweger ) is assigned one more case in addition to the 38 she already has, a young girl named Lilith ( Jodelle Ferland ). Emily visits the home and discovers that the girl's parents are showing signs of abuse. Emily decides to take Lilith in until a good foster home can be found -- but unfortunately, everyone around Emily quickly begins dying, starting with her psychologist friend, Doug ( Bradley Cooper ). Emily starts to believe that maybe Lilith is the problem, rather than her parents. Can she get anyone to believe her before it's too late?
Is It Any Good?
The "demon child" subgenre of horror movies is an old one, stretching from The Bad Seed to The Omen to the more recent Orphan , and Case 39 doesn't have anything fresh to add. Completed in 2007, CASE 39 sat around for a long time before being unceremoniously dump in theaters in 2010; in the meantime, director Christian Alvart went on to make the effectively moody Pandorum , but this movie is a dud.
In these movies, the horror springs from the concept that the purest and most innocent of all creatures -- a child -- can harbor murderous evil. But Case 39 doesn't seem to understand this; there's no real emotional draw to the characters, and they don't seem connected to one another. Alvart counts on jump shocks and sudden noises for his scary scenes, and none of it works very well. The movie never digs deeper into its premise.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence . How did it affect you? Why do you think it affected you that way?
As a horror movie, is Case 39 scary ? Which scenes worked the best? In general, what's scarier -- blood and gore, or long, slow build-ups?
What makes "killer kids" like Lilith scary?
- In theaters : October 1, 2010
- On DVD or streaming : January 4, 2011
- Cast : Bradley Cooper , Ian McShane , Jodelle Ferland , Renee Zellweger
- Director : Christian Alvart
- Inclusion Information : Female actors
- Studio : Paramount Vantage
- Genre : Horror
- Run time : 109 minutes
- MPAA rating : R
- MPAA explanation : violence and terror including disturbing images
- Last updated : October 31, 2023
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"Violent, Rehashed Demon-Child Horrorshow"
What You Need To Know:
(PaPaPa, OO, C, B, L, VVV, A, D, MM) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with strong occult elements as little girl is empowered by a demonic force and people try to fight her with force rather than relying on the power of Jesus Christ, mild Christian, moral elements such as people have cross on the wall, Christian funeral depicted, people battle evil demon, and man leaves a church service where woman asks him if he only believes inside the walls; nine obscenities and no profanities; very strong violence includes implied demonic attacks on people, parents put little girl in oven and taper her mouth shut and turn the oven on, she is burned but rescued by police officer and child services worker, police officer punches man and woman and breaks man’s jaw, 10-year-old boy bludgeons his parents to death with a tire iron while they are sleeping, bloody sheets from the bed, hornets attack man and come out of his ears and mouth, he falls and breaks his neck on the toilet, woman is chased by demonic creature, man stabs other man in neck with a fork when he believes the demon is possessing the man, man falls on fork and it stabs him in the eye and he dies demonic dog bites man in neck and when man tries to shoot dog he shoots himself in head, girl’s face deforms into demonic creature, demonic girl breaks through walls, woman burns down her house to try and kill demon-possessed girl, reckless driving, car crashes into water, woman fights with demon and drowning; no sexuality but guy kisses his female friend on the cheek; no nudity but woman is in short pajama shorts and shot of bikini; wine and beer consumed; no smoking or drugs; and, lying, manipulation and 10-year-old demon-possessed girl wreaks havoc.
CASE 39 is a violent horror story about a child protection services worker named Emily (Renee Zellweger) who takes custody of an abused little girl named Lilith (Jodelle Ferland). Soon, Emily discovers that the Lilith is demon-possessed and will stop at nothing to wreak havoc in Emily’s life and the lives of everyone around her.
Emily has 38 open child service cases on her desk. Yet, something draws her to her latest case about a little girl named Lilith. When she interviews Lilith’s family, Emily discovers that the parents seem deeply disturbed. She thinks her suspicions are confirmed when Lilith tells her that she has overheard her parents say that they want to “send her to Hell.”
Emily and a police officer head over to the house one evening, only to discover that Lilith’s parents are trying to kill her by stuffing her in the oven. Emily and the police office rescue Lilith and take the parents to prison.
Emily takes custody, and Lilith moves into Emily’s home with her. Not long after Lilith arrives, things start to go very wrong around the home and in Emily’s life. Emily begins to suspect that Lilith is evil. When Emily journeys to the prison and asks Lilith’s father about it, he reveals that Lilith has the soul of a demon and the only way for Emily to stop the little girl is to kill her. Now, Emily must devise a way to kill Lilith and the demon within her before Lilith destroys Emily’s entire life.
CASE 39 is ultra-violent and clichéd. It is the latest in a long line of movies about disturbed children who have some connection with an evil force and wreak havoc on the lives of everyone around them. The movie is also very slow for the first half, and it misses the proper placement of several key plot points.
The violence is excessive and disturbing, especially the images of a 10-year-old boy bludgeoning his parents to death with a tire iron.
The movie contains a very strong mixed pagan, occult worldview where the characters rely on their own strength to defeat a supernatural, demonic creature rather than relying on prayer and faith in Christ. There are a few Christian references such as a cross hanging on a bedroom wall and a Christian funeral depicted, but those have no effect on the characters as they try and defeat Lilith’s evil with their own human devices.
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Case 39 Reviews
- 25 Metascore
- 1 hr 49 mins
- Horror, Suspense
- Watchlist Where to Watch
Social worker Emily uncovers a lethal secret about a 10-year-old girl whose case she is responsible for after the child's parents try to harm her.
After languishing for more than two years before its eventual release, this effort from Pandorum director Christian Alvart is riddled with too much silliness to elicit much fear beyond the kind found inside a theme-park haunted house, and not enough camp to make it fun despite itself. The plot revolves around Emily Jenkins (Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger), an overworked but passionate child-services specialist who takes an interest in the case of Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), a young girl who appears to be trapped in the clutches of profoundly creepy, potentially abusive parents. Inconveniently, merely looking like the sort of people who would bludgeon an unsuspecting hitchhiker to death is entirely legal, and Emily is urged to drop the case. Thanks to her commitment to the child’s welfare, however, and with some help from a gruff yet caring police detective (Ian McShane), Emily is able to rescue Lilith from her home just moments after she is unceremoniously duct-taped inside of a lit oven and left to die. Due to the egregious nature of the crime, Lilith’s parents are committed to a mental institution for psychiatric evaluation before they can be tried in court, wherein they admit their belief that Lilith is a demon who has been murdering their friends and family for years using supernatural means. Naturally, Emily is unconvinced -- until a string of untimely deaths in her own circle of acquaintances leads her to question if the child is the innocent victim she initially believed her to be. Emily’s changing feelings for Lilith -- from sympathy, to fondness, to something like love, then suspicion, terror, and eventually, deep revulsion -- are timed quite expertly by Zellweger. Jodelle Ferland is able to communicate her own transition from lost, traumatized child to soulless demonic entity through admirably subtle changes in facial expression. The film builds tension nicely until the not-so-unpredictable reveal, when it falls apart at the seams. Lilith -- who either feeds on fear, exists to corrupt an otherwise decent soul, or both -- seems to rely on B-movie scare tactics and old X-Files plots to literally scare her victims to death. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if Case 39 didn’t take itself so unrelentingly seriously, which does no favors to its silly concept, and ultimately makes for a boring, if watchable, Evil Kid flick.
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- Dove Ratings
I found the first quarter of this movie to be intriguing and interesting. A concerned social worker, up to her neck with 38 active cases, is handed case number 39. This particular case involves a young girl named Lily who is possibly being abused by her parents. When caseworker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) investigates and visits their home, the parents do seem very odd and evasive. Emily, getting nowhere due to the excessive red tape, gives the girl her personal home phone number and asks her to call her if she needs her. Late one night that is the exact scenario which results. When Emily and her cop friend Mike (Ian McShane) burst into the house they find (without plot spoiling) the parents have placed the girl in an extremely dangerous situation. They are arrested and ultimately Emily lobbies to be allowed to raise the young innocent looking child herself.
And then the supernatural elements kick in and the film, at least for me, headed south quickly. The believability level is tossed out the window and although the film retains a bit of mystery, especially with regards to young Lily and what will happen in the end, it also seems quite ludicrous at times when compared to the film’s initial beginning scenes. Add to this factor the very strong language and graphic violence which is featured in the movie, and you quickly have a non family-friendly film. We are unable to award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this movie.
Dove Rating Details
A lot of bloody violence including blood being seen on wall and very bloody pillows; a few scenes of a woman with a bloody face; a young man murders some relatives in the film and he is seen starting to stab them; a girl is duct taped and placed in an oven and the flames on top of the stove are turned on; a character is tormented and his neck is broken after he sees hornets attacking him including being seen in his ears and one comes out from below his eye and blood is seen; a man is killed in an accident; a woman drives into the water purposely trying to kill someone; a woman has a screwdriver ready to use as a weapon; a vicious dog attacks a man and his bloody face is seen; a woman purposely starts a house fire.
A mild innuendo about becoming physical; kissing.
F-1 (possibly one other one); H-3; H (as a place)-2; S/BS-4; A-1; OMG-1
A few scenes of drinking.
Girl tells adults her parents want to send her to "Hell"; it is said a girl has a demon soul; supernatural elements; intense and scary images.
Film information, dove content.
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