By Jeremy Medina
Updated April 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

The trailer for Renee Zellweger’s long-delayed thriller Case 39 has finally surfaced online, and the only thing interesting about it is the abundance of horror-movie clichés (Killer bugs! Rabid dogs! “I’m not crazy” declarations!) But it did get me to thinking: What in the world has happened to Zellweger’s career?

How did the Kewpie-faced actress go from Oscar-winner to starring in a ripoff of The Ring and The Reaping, one that has sat on the shelf of Paramount for over two years no less? Worse yet, how did she go from movie star to helpless punching bag? It wasn’t that long ago when she was everyone’s favorite singleton. These days, phrases like ‘squinty’ and/or ‘sucking on a lemon’ are used to describe her in lieu of ‘lovable’ and ‘talented’. The poor girl was even one of the unlucky few to have her Oscar (for Cold Mountain) stripped in our Recall the Gold project.

As someone who has enjoyed the bulk of her work (how can you not fallfor her sweet-natured charm in Jerry Maguire, Nurse Betty or Bridget Jones’s Diary?), I hope Zellweger recovers from her post-Oscar curse. Since Cold Mountain, she has not been in a single hit: Cinderella Man, Miss Potter, Leatherheads and Appaloosa have all been box-office disappointments. Most recently (and tellingly), her city-girl-gone-backwoods comedy New in Town struggled to even make $15 million.

This year may determine whether Zellweger will continue to land leading roles going forward. Besides Case 39, she has two other movies on deck: the 50’s-era rom-com My One and Only and the Oscar-bait drama My Own Love Song, with Forest Whitaker, directed by Olivier Dahan (La Vie en Rose). Zellweger needs one, or both, of these movies to connect with audiences and critics. I really hope they do. I still think she’s a genuinely gifted comedienne and actress.

What are your thoughts on Renee Zellweger? Are you still a fan? Did her career peak with the Oscar win? And, does Case 39 not look exactly like this summer’s Peter Sarsgaard thriller Orphan? Watch the trailer here and share your thoughts.

addCredit(“Soul Brother/FilmMagic”)