Director – Luiso Berdejo
Cast – Kevin Costner, Ivana Baquero, Samantha Mathis, Gattlin Griffith, Erik Palladino, Noah Taylor, James Gammon, Sandra Ellis Lafferty
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I kept passing over pretty much everyday for quite some time now simply because I did not expect it to be very good. Reading the plot it seemed like the usual DTV psychological thriller that employs one “big” actor in hopes of garnering DVD sales, but then I read that this film contained creatures. Every plot summary I had read simply stated it as a psychological thriller only, NONE of them mentioned creatures until the one I read just recently today, and that was the green light for me to give this one a go. The New Daughter starts of a bit bland and was definitely coming off as I originally expected, but much to my surprise the horror insidiously grows in this piece and eventually erupts into a much better experience than I expected.
Writer John James(Kevin Costner), now a divorced man whose wife left him and his children, moves his family to a home in rural South Carolina in hopes of starting a new life and reviving his career. The move and divorce have been hard on him and his children, but the strange behavior exhibited by his teenage daughter is far from the typical nonsense provided by teenage girls, and John soon learns of the dark secret inhabiting the land he and his children now possess.
I almost regret taking so long to watch this film because despite this getting a borderline-positive 6-rating I did enjoy what the film gave me. The story does start off a bit bland, focusing on the family as they move into the home at the heavy behest of the teenage daughter Louisa. After a bit of development we soon begin to take notice that there is something/someone lurking in the woods outside the home, which also coincides with a change in Louisa’s behavior. As the film progresses we are given numerous developments that helped peak my interest in what was going on, starting with some ancient artifacts and odd structures found around the home. Ultimately the film progresses to the revelation that a group of grotesque creatures with ties to Native American folklore have been the ones wreaking havoc around the home, and from then on out the storyline continues its newly-found greatness in delivering good creature action heavy in spooky horror. There are a few writing issues here and there that mostly come at fault of the story being a bit bland at times, but John Travis’ adaptation of John Connolly’s short story managed to outdo the issues with many positive elements.
Director Louiso Berdejo, who just penned the screenplay for REC 3: Genesis, did a good job executing this film and saving it from the doom it could have suffered had the horror not progressed as great as it did. The atmosphere and sets used are great and Berdejo’s cinematography is awesome, as is most of the camerawork from our Spanish filmmakers, and he gets mostly good performances from everyone involved. While I did not care for Ivana Baquero’s performance as Louisa I felt that she nailed the role as it was meant to be executed, which plays as a negative on Berdejo’s direction for choosing to portray her in such an extremely unlikeable fashion. I mean, I should be feeling at least somewhat bad for her in her situation right? Well I never did and I blame that solely on execution. Now onto the best thing about this film…Berdejo’s execution of the horror. At first the horror is light, consisting of the usual odd sounds and things that go bump in the night, but once we are exposed to the creature action we are given the non-stop horror that I was hoping to see. The look of the creatures was fantastic and their mannerisms made them creepy as hell, and I was also very pleased to see that they came mostly via live-action fashion and not through the cheap CGI that we get nowadays (like the creatures in Signs).
Overall, The New Daughter is a surprisingly effected horror film that starts off with a psychological aspect and then transforms into an onslaught of awesome creature action. There are a few faults here and there regarding writing and direction, but in the end this is one DTV effort that may be worth checking out.