The New Daughter (2009)

May 1, 2010 - 9:03pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: based on short story, creature, Gattlin Griffith, Gold Circle Films, humanoid, Ivana Baquero, John Connolly, John Travis, Kevin Costner, Luis Berdejo, Mandate Pictures, Noah Taylor, Samantha Mathis, the new daughter

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Luis Berdejo
Kevin Costner, Ivana Baquero, Gattlin Griffith, Samantha Mathis, Noah Taylor

Based on a short story by John Connolly, The New Daughter was completed in '09 and pretty much sat on the shelves until it received a quiet and VERY limited theatrical release last December. It's sad to see all these disappointing 3D efforts and remakes get such wide theatrical treatments, while creative little genre pics get swept under the rug, but that's just one of many examples of what's wrong with Hollywood now-a-days.

Anyway, the flick stars Kevin Costner as a father who has recently gone through a divorce and decides to move his young son and teen daughter (Ivana Baquero) to an old home in rural South Carolina. It's not long before the daughter begins acting more distant and defiant, but is it due to adolescence or that strange large mound of dirt that's near their home? Hmmmm... After doing some research on the interwebs, Costner comes across a legend behind the mound, where its believed to be connected to an ancient race of creatures referred to as "Mound Walkers", which were worshiped as gods.

Talking with the previous owner of the old home reiterates the story behind the mound and the possible fate of the man's daughter, leaving Costner only one option -- destroy the mound! However, it may be too late, as the creatures have seemingly already claimed his daughter as their "queen" and much like ants, will protect her at all costs...

The film is pretty slow-paced for the most part. It starts off interesting enough with the family getting acquainted with their new surroundings and the kids exploring the nearby forest and mysterious mound. Surprisingly, we get a peek at one of the creatures fairly early on in the flick, which probably would have been more effective had the appearance been saved for a later time. A majority of the movie just involves an overwhelmed Costner just trying to make sense of the changes in his daughter, and it's not until the last 30-or-so minutes that the pacing finally picks up.

This marks the directorial debut of Spanish writer Luis Berdejo, who made his mark by scripting the infection chiller, [Rec]. The man's filmmaking debut is a decent one, creating an effective foreboding atmosphere from the start and making use of a lot of creepy sounds in the distance. Fans may remember Ivana Baquero, who plays the daughter in the film from her lead role in Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Although I find her a good actress, I feel she was a bit miscast as the daughter, especially with her faint Spanish accent that's never explained in the movie, but I digress.

The main problem I had with this flick are the pacing issues and lack of things happening through much of the middle of the movie. Around this time the daughter goes through these "changes," which to be honest didn't seem much different than how a normal teenage girl would act. Sure, she's normally covered in dirt and keeps trying to get her little brother to follow her to the mound, but other than that we really don't see anything out of the ordinary from someone her age.

I also hated the overuse of the clichéd jump scare tactics; you know, the ones where something quickly walks across the camera (which they use twice here) or when a character suddenly appears out of nowhere to give the viewer a quick jolt. The atmosphere and great use of sound gave the flick a nice creepy vibe, but throwing these standard scares really bring the quality of the movie down, in my opinion.

The strongest and probably most enjoyable aspect of the film would have to be the last bits, when the story finally moves forward and the Mound Walkers appear in numbers, forcing Costner's character to defend his home and family with a trusty double-barrel shotty, oh yeah baby!! Speaking of which, you get a good look at the creatures towards, but they sadly look a lot similar to the cave dwellers from The Descent (*sigh*). Not that they look bad or anything (well their CGI teeth and mouths looked pretty bad), but I would've liked to have seen a little more creativity behind these creatures.

The New Daughter is a decent genre effort, despite its flaws and pacing issues. It delivers a standard, but interesting premise and good use of creepy sounds and atmosphere makes it stand out a little compared to other recent horror pics. Had the rest of the flick been as tense as the last 30-or-so minutes then this would've been a pretty solid addition to the genre.

Author Information

FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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