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Can you keep a secret? After a series of difficulties in their marriage, culminating with the loss of an unborn child, Kate and John Coleman, who have a son and daughter, decide the best way to heal is to add to their family by adopting a nine-year-old girl. Esther recently experienced the loss of her previous adoptive family in a house fire, from which she only narrowly escaped herself.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously directed the horror film "House of Wax” for producers Joel Silver and Susan Downey, describes Esther as "very mysterious, but at the same time, she seems very smart, very creative. Kate and John, the adoptive parents, want a child who is special. And they definitely get somebody who is really, really special,” he smiles.

Almost as soon as they welcome Esther into their home, however, an alarming series of tragic events begins to unfold, leading Kate to believe that something isn't right—this seemingly angelic little girl is perhaps not what she appears to be.

"I think a villain like this is interesting to watch,” states producer Joel Silver. "You wouldn't want to see her in the real world, but it's fun to see her in a movie. She's a psychopath in the shape of a little girl who will stop at nothing.” In fact, it doesn't take long to realize that there really is something wrong with Esther. Producer Susan Downey relates, "Kate and John were ready to put their lives back on track, and they decided to adopt an older child. To fit in with the kids that they already had, they wanted to find one somewhere between their older son and their younger daughter, and hopefully have a really happy little fivesome.” But there's something about Esther that they don't know.

When John first happens upon her, Esther is singing sweetly and painting a beautiful picture. Kate joins them and the couple quickly find themselves drawn in by Esther's intelligence and her singular point of view. Conservative and shy, Esther is clearly a unique little girl. Kate, a musician, and John, an architect, easily see this exceptional child fitting into their family, despite—or perhaps even because of—her tragic past.

Collet-Serra observes, "Esther is welcomed into the family, but soon after her arrival we see that she's not as innocent as she seemed. In a film, when you have an evil kid who does evil things, you start small and more subtly than you might expect in a horror movie. Little things start happening, and before you realize it you have an enemy inside the house, this little girl manipulating the situation.”

The current state of the Coleman family is ripe for manipulation. Kate, still healing from her loss, is a recovering alcoholic, and her drinking has led to near-tragedy in the past when their daughter Max nearly drowned on her watch. John continues to fight the urge to blame his wife for what might have happened. The fractures in their relationship run deep, making them vulnerable and giving Esther an opportunity.

Leonardo DiCaprio, a partner at Appian Way and a producer on the film, states, "We were as excited as we were about the project because it felt like so much more than your typical genre film. A lot of its appeal has to do with the fact that there is a complex psychological drama playing itself out alongside the typical genre scares.”

Actress Vera Farmiga, who stars as Kate, remarks, "This story puts a new spin on the genre. It's not just bloodletting; it's horrifying events happening to real people with real problems. Events that make you shudder and say, ‘Thank God that's not happening to me!'”

Peter Sarsgaard stars as Kate's husband, John. The actor also appreciated the realistic base to the story. "At its core, this is a family that was broken. Kate has extreme guilt over Max's accident, the drinking, and even the stillbirth. Despit


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