The filmmakers manage to pull off an incredible magic trick with this film — somehow, they give Leena a sympathetic edge. We’re talking about a deceitful, callous, murderous woman who poses as a child to take advantage of people’s grief. Yet, in a feat of magic, some audience members might be feeling a certain affection toward the little troublemaker by the film’s third act.
Effectively, to make a villain feel vulnerable and human, someone has to take exceed that villainy and take the spot of the unlikeable antagonist. “First Kill” certainly pulls that off when Tricia and Gunnar’s true colors are revealed. Compare Leena and the two evil Albrights. They’re all murderers. They’re all liars. But only the Albrights are wealthy and entitled, with their actions motivated not by basic survival but by a desire to maintain their comfortable lifestyle. Meanwhile, we don’t know much about Leena’s childhood background, but we know that she comes from a rough place.
Additionally, both Gunnar and Tricia bully and verbally abuse Leena. Gunnar’s spoiled and rebellious attitude only fuels the reading that the Albrights are far more reprehensible than Leena. And it all comes back to the fact that they’re responsible for the death of the real Esther. While we’ve seen Leena torment children and even threaten them across two movies, she’s never actually added a child to her body count. She’s not the one who’s killed a child who loved her, relied on her, and fully trusted her with every fiber of its being. In the final scuffle between Leena and the two evil Albrights, you can be forgiven if you find yourself rooting for Leena to end them.
If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.