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The New Daughter (2009)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Creature Film, Haunted House Film, Supernatural Thriller, Thriller
Luiso Berdejo Luiso Berdejo
Kevin Costner Kevin Costner
Ivana Baquero Ivana Baquero
Samantha Mathis Samantha Mathis
Gattlin Griffith Gattlin Griffith
Erik Palladino Erik Palladino

4.6 / 10 - 1 vote

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 23, 2009
Over the past year or so a new phrase has emerged in Hollywood, a phrase that still bewilders me each and every time it occurs -- it's called 'the dollar theatre dump'. It has happened three times now, and each time has been more baffling than the one before. It started with "Midnight Meat Train", a film that should have easily been in thousands of multiplexes across the country -- it was based on a book by Clive Barker, starred Bradley Cooper and had a mainstream appeal most horror films just lack. Next was "Blood Creek", a film directed by Joel Schumacher who -- as bad as some of his films have been -- is probably going to be on the A-list again at some point. Now comes "The New Daughter" starring Kevin Costner and directed by Luis Berdejo, one of the men behind the hit horror film "[Rec]". It finds itself tossed casually into thirty or so theatres.

The story is traditional. A father, John James (Kevin Costner), moves into a large South Carolina home with his two children, Louisa (Ivana Baquero) and Sam (Gattlin Griffith). John is recently divorced and his ex-wife has completely disappeared, leaving him to tend to his children alone. Very shortly after they move in, Louisa and her brother discover a large dirt mound on the outskirts of the home. No one knows why it's there, but it definitely seems out of place. Soon, strange things begin to happen and John starts to notice a 'change' in his daughter as her behavior grows increasingly bizarre. A local school teacher (Samantha Mathis) strikes up a friendship with John and keeps an eye on his kids at school when she can. John eventually starts to think something is going on and begins doing research on that strange mound, uncovering some shocking secrets about his house, his property and just what might be going on with his daughter.

So much of this film is run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter horror. The first hour of the film feels that way. We get our traditional set-ups, we meet characters and we know exactly what is going to happen to them. We also don't get a lot of horrific imagery, save one scene early on involving the roof, though I think that was tossed at us a little too soon -- it worked in "Signs" but not so much here. However, the last 30-minutes of this film are the strongest minutes of horror I have seen all year, blending elements of "Signs", "The Descent" and "The Orphanage". We get a straight-on approach to the horror at the end of this film and it all speeds towards one of the most insane and satisfying endings I have seen all year long -- definitely one we weren't expecting.

It's such a shame a film like this couldn't even muster a January or September release. Kevin Costner might not be an A-lister anymore, but his name can still carry a film enough to warrant a theatrical release. And Costner does some solid work here in what might be the only true horror film he's ever done. He actually flexes his muscles in a role that could have been just tossed aside. You can tell he's taking the material seriously and that really does help us believe his character and his turmoil. His performance at the end of the film is some of his strongest acting of recent memory.

Don't get me wrong -- the film has problems. For starters, Louisa's accent switches from American to Spanish far too frequently and we're never given any backstory for us to believe she would have that. I also wonder how Costner's character, a stay at home writer, was 'never there for the kids' as his daughter once describes. There is even one phone conversation where Costner addresses the person on the other end with two different names, one belonging to an entirely different character. Those inconsistencies aside, "The New Daughter" is one of the best horror films of 2009 and a definite must-see for horror fans. It won't blow you away with its originality, but the last 30-minutes should really deliver.

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Greg Follender #1: Greg Follender - added 05/22/2010, 01:42 AM
If you actually bother to sit through this shite-fest... I feel pity for you.

It took almost everything I had to wade through this cliche-ridden train-wreck to get to the utterly predictable ending... my co-viewer and I even managed to offer several ways to better the narrative and sloppy character acting AS WE WERE WATCHING THE THING... it was that unimmersive. Terrible pacing, simply awful acting, and a ending "twist" so ham-fisted in it's delivery that it gave my cats diarrhea just being in the same room that the film was playing.

I will only give some credit to the last few seconds of the film for at least trying to salvage an already hackneyed ending with a slight edge... but that alone does not erase the eye-blistering abuse that the rest of the film inflicts on it's viewer. There is a definite reason this movie got dumped in so few theaters...

It sucked.

3/10... with maybe an extra point added for the last few seconds of the film... if you're still bothering to pay attention to the proceedings by then...
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