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The Real Villain In Orphan Isn't Who You Think

The 2009 film "Orphan" is not your typical horror flick. Unlike other entries in the genre, "Orphan" featured critical darlings Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard, both better known at the time for dramas like "The Departed" and "Boys Don't Cry." "Orphan" was commended both for its original story and for its inclusion of Aryana Engineer, a young deaf actress, as one of the main characters. Despite its middling 56% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film made $78 million on a budget of $20 million (via The Numbers) and is generally considered a success. 

While it's obvious Isabelle Fuhrman's titular orphan Esther serves as the primary antagonist in the film, there is another villain afoot causing problems; fans paying close attention will recognize that someone else is clearly also to blame for some of the ensuing carnage by enabling Esther and refusing to admit that things are out of control. 

John is the villain of Orphan

Esther almost immediately begins to show bits and pieces of her sociopathic personality once she's in the Coleman's home. While the young daughter, Max (Aryana Engineer), likes Esther, both the son, Daniel (Jimmy Bennett), and Kate (Vera Farmiga) start seeing red flags. From the moment the supposedly 9-year old child refers to sex so plainly, Kate knows something is off. Kate's suggestions to take Esther to a psychologist make perfect sense, given that they have no idea of her history. But for unknown reasons, John (Peter Sarsgaard) refuses. 

He begins to present himself as essentially checked out, oblivious to what is happening in his family. John repeatedly chooses to believe the words of a child he barely knows over his wife. Even when Esther rips out the flowers on their dead child's grave and presents them as a gift to Kate, he still makes excuses for her. Most of Esther's violent actions could've been easily averted if he would've just listened to his wife and taken Esther to get evaluated by a psychologist. For this reason, John is the true villain in "Orphan."