Isabelle Fuhrman – Four films to watch after Orphan: First Kill

Few actors can claim a breakthrough as impressive as that of Isabelle Fuhrman. In 2009, she took the horror world by storm as Esther, a sweet little Russian girl with a big secret. Orphan was a surprise hit thanks in large part to Fuhrman’s shocking and nuanced performance as an escaped murderer posing as an innocent child.

Fuhrman turned that notoriety into a coveted role in the highly publicized adaptation of The hunger Games where she plays another psychotic killer named Clove. Although she has worked steadily since then, many of Fuhrman’s projects have flown under the mainstream radar. The release this month of Orphan: first murder, William Brent Bell’s prequel to the original film, sees the actress smartly reprise the role that made her famous. Once again she shines as Lena/Esther in an incredibly fun movie destined to become a camp classic.

But between these more notable roles, the talented actress has racked up quite the resume.

Here are four movies and a show featuring the young phenom to put at the top of your watch list.


Few child actors transitioned into adult roles as easily as Isabelle Fuhrman. It helps that her most recognizable role includes a scene in which she essentially transforms into an adult before our eyes. After playing child killer Esther and teenage Career Killer Clove, she tackled a much more realistic teenager in the showtime drama. Masters of sex. Fuhrman joined the cast stacked in season 3 as Tessa Johnson, the 15-year-old daughter of Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), the true pioneering sexologist who published groundbreaking research with her partner William H. Masters (Michael Sheen) . While Seasons 1 and 2 focus on the early stages of the partnership between Masters and Johnson, Season 3 revolves around the Researchers as parents and the effect of their work on their children. We meet this version of Tessa as Virginia’s first book “Human Sexual Response” has just been published. Although Tessa, like all women, ultimately benefits from her mother’s work, growing up with the “sex mom” as a student at a Catholic high school in the 1960s comes with its own complications.

Fuhrman is fantastic in a supporting role as a troubled girl trying to figure out who she is in the shadow of her neglectful mother. The first episode sees her drunkenly kissing Virginia’s lover and her stressful arc only goes downhill from there. Tessa’s most heartbreaking moment occurs in episode three when she is assaulted by her date in the parking lot in front of her comeback dance. It’s a sobering reminder that knowledge doesn’t always equal protection and in her quest to enlighten the world, Virginia’s own daughter is often left behind. Tessa’s arc is an honest and sometimes heartbreaking portrayal of burgeoning adulthood at a time when fear and shame dominated the conversation about female sexuality.


Isabelle Fuhrman in a dark hallway

2018 saw Isabelle Fuhrman return to her horror roots in In a dark hallway, an adaptation of the 1974 novel by Lois Duncan. This crossover between YA and gothic horror has a deliciously banana plot and would make a killer double feature with Orphan: first murder. Kit (AnnaSophia Robb) is an angry teenager struggling with childhood trauma. Hoping to curb his rebellion, his parents send him to exclusive Blackwood boarding school as an alternative to juvenile detention. The school is so exclusive that she is one of only five female students. Each girl suddenly begins to show extraordinary talent in a particular area, and Kit begins to fear that she is being groomed for a more sinister purpose. Fuhrman plays Izzy, a rebellious teenager with a new understanding of advanced math. Although she doesn’t have a ton to go on, Fuhrman slips right into the silly plot and gives her all in this surprisingly fun and campy story.

The plot of In a dark hallway makes a great elevator pitch, but his execution quickly turns ridiculous. Thankfully, a full-throated commitment to madness makes up for a lack of logic, and the film is a feast for the eyes and ears. The rambling old building is fantastically spooky with sinister figures stalking the hallways and a dusty old wing of the building is off-limits to girls. Everyone walks through this ridiculous plot with a straight face, which adds to the fun. One student shows up with a goldfish in a bag, another tries to light Kit’s hair on fire, and the girls’ first music lesson has to be seen to be believed. Each student plays with a different instrument that she has obviously never held before. This comedic set includes a trombone, drums, grand piano, and Fuhrman hollering half-heartedly on a violin. None of this is musical. It’s all fun. Pair that with Uma Thurman wearing a heavy French accent as the school principal and you have one hell of a hangover movie.


Isabelle Fuhrman tackles a whole different genre of horror in Ribbon, Deborah Kampmeier’s feature debut. Annarosa Mudd tells her own heartbreaking story as Rosa Terrano, a young actress who joins an exciting mentorship that turns out to be nothing more than a porn scam. The film opens with Rosa’s shocking acts of mutilation, a symptom of her trauma and preparation for her calculated revenge. The narrative then shifts to Pearl, another struggling actress who has been so rejected that she goes against her better judgment and falls victim to the same predator. Anticipating that he would repeat the pattern, Rosa installed hidden cameras in his “studio”, determined to catch him in the act. We watch this disgusting bastard manipulate Pearl for hours before a shocking confrontation in the film’s final act.

It’s hard to know exactly what to do with Ribbon. Inspired by real events in the life of one of its stars, the story feels incredibly intimate, and Kampmeier sometimes chooses personal catharsis over narrative coherence. It is also ethically dubious. Rosa tries to protect other women for the long haul, but we watch her witness another woman’s victimization with nothing to stop it. Fuhrman is phenomenal as the innocent Pearl. Our hearts break as we watch her fall for the man trick, fully understanding why she makes her devastating choice. It’s a heartbreaking story about predators and prey and the danger of letting the story we want to believe consume the truth before our eyes.


Isabelle Fuhrman the novice

Lauren Hadaway’s directorial debut is a powerful examination of physical endurance and emotional pain. Alex (Isabelle Fuhrman) is a freshman determined to make the transition from her school’s rookie rowing team to college training. Like an athletic version of Whiplashwhich Hadaway also worked on, The newbie chronicles Alex’s growing obsession with success and a desire for perfection that threatens to consume her. She sacrifices everything in her life to achieve an arbitrary goal for seemingly no reason other than because someone told her accomplishing it would be difficult. Fuhrman is magnetic in the role, fully engaging with the physical demands of the sport and the pain of feeling trapped in a mental illness that no one around her understands. She takes quizzes three times, ignores worrying injuries, and when she loses, she self-harms to punish herself for not achieving perfection.

Rowing is an elite world that most of us know little about, but Hadaway manages to make it relevant and tense, focusing more on Alex’s growing obsession and how his need for perfection consumes it slowly rather than on the mechanics of the sport. Isabelle Fuhrman’s powerful performance perfectly captures the reality of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the hell of losing your life to the overwhelming voices in your head. Much more than a compulsive need to clean and an obsession with order, Hadaway presents Alex’s struggle with a largely misunderstood mental illness without ever being exploitative or condescending to the character. Both tense and triggering, The newbie is one of the most authentic portrayals of OCD ever given to cinema.


Isabelle Fuhrman the last thing Mary saw

Edoardo Vitaletti’s feature debut is a dark tale of forbidden love and Puritan oppression. The film opens as Mary (Stefanie Scott) is accused of witchcraft and murder while a blindfold covers her bleeding eyes. We then go back in time and learn that she is the daughter of a wealthy family who fell in love with a housekeeper named Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman) at a time when such relationships were considered a sign of evil. Mary’s family discovers the affair with a mysterious book filled with Sapphic woodcut images. They enlist the matriarch of the community, a cruel old woman, to “cleanse” the girls of what they see as sinful desires. The girls endure vicious tortures, including solitary confinement and being made to kneel with bare legs on dry rice while repeating scriptures. When that doesn’t “cure” them of their feelings for each other, they plan to murder everyone in the house and flee to safer ground. Although there are supernatural elements, The last thing Mary saw is a story more grounded in doomed love and the horrors of religious fundamentalism.

Fuhrman plays Eleanor, the center of Mary’s desire, with a haunting desperation and resignation for her position in life. She knows she is the expendable member of the family and will likely be the one to pay the price for their love. But the arrival of a stranger drifting through the countryside dramatically changes that, setting off a chain of events that will lead to the film’s first accusations. It’s a dark story with a heartbreaking ending as we learn that the last thing Mary sees before she loses her life on the gallows is Eleanor’s smiling face, presumably welcoming her to the afterlife where they can. live together in safety and happiness.

Orphan: first murder is now streaming on Paramount+.

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