After his wife leaves him for another man, John James and his two children move out to a house in the country. They soon discover a mysterious mound on the property and it isn’t long before John’s daughter Louisa begins to exhibit some very strange and disturbing behavior. He does a little research and finds out that the previous owner’s daughter did the exact same thing (until her grandfather set her on fire that is) so he tries to unravel the mystery and get Louisa acting like herself again. Are the changes in her behavior due to just growing pains or is there something supernatural behind them (oh, and I also need to mention that there are also some pretty vicious creatures out in the woods surrounding their new home who enjoy munching on anyone they come across)?
I’ll admit I went into “The New Daughter” not really expecting anything spectacular. I mean, come on, it has Kevin Costner in it (remember back in the day when he was considered one of Hollywood’s hottest commodities?)! Since I have never really been one of his fans I fully expected to hate this movie. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how good it was and am happy to say that I really liked it (and I’ll admit also that I even enjoyed Costner’s performance for once). I thought that it was a winner and have no problem recommending it to others.
One of the things I really enjoyed about it was the fact that it was actually creepy and I can see it freaking out some of the people that watch it. It wasn’t that it was a non-stop series of terrifying scenes or anything, but there was just something genuinely chilling about it. The scares are subtle (with the exception of a few jump scares that even got me once or twice) and there is just something that I can’t quite explain that I creeped me out a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t scared out of my mind or anything while I watched it, but there were some scenes that bothered me a bit (the fate of the baby sitter, for example). The film definitely has a dark tone to it and I think that it may produce a few sleepless nights for some viewers.
I thought that the cast was great as well. As I said, I am normally not really into Kevin Costner but I’ve gotta say, the man delivered this time around. I actually felt sorry for him as John is sort of a sad and pitiful character. No matter how hard he tries it seems that nothing he does pleases Louisa (and this is even before she starts acting psycho). I liked the character and I just wanted everything to work out for him because he is basically a good guy in a sh*tty situation. Ivana Baquero is excellent in the role of Louisa, and even though the character can be quite a brat at times she is still quite likable. I had a good time watching her change into something else (literally!) and Boquero does a wonderful job of going from a normal girl to something else. Samantha Mathis was good as always as the caring teacher (and almost love interest) Cassandra. Could someone explain to me why she doesn’t get more work? I think she rocks! Overall I thought that the acting was commendable and I didn’t have a problem with any character that was in the movie.
I also want to say that I loved the ending. I know some people may not like it but I really dug it. I don’t want to give anything away but I will say that it ends on quite the downer. As a matter of fact, even though I liked the way it ended it left me feeling a little depressed. If you are looking for a movie that has a happy ending where everyone lives happily ever after you may want to look elsewhere. I would even suggest that you pop an upbeat comedy (or a Troma movie) in the DVD after watching “The New Daughter” just to make yourself feel better.
There are a few minor issues that I had with the movie. There is a scene where Louisa has a confrontation with a girl at school who is bullying her that doesn’t quite make sense. We are lead to believe that Louisa pushes her down a flight of stairs (off screen), but when we see the bully again her arm is broken and Cassandra makes the comment that she just slipped and fell down the stairs (while the girl just sits there, making no attempt to comment otherwise). Was a scene cut out here or was I just missing something? This part confused me a bit and I couldn’t help but wonder about it. I also thought that the movie was a little too long and it lagged at times. I wouldn’t say that I ever felt bored while I was watching it but I do think that there are some scenes that could have been trimmed down a bit to make the movie flow a little smoother.
I really enjoyed “The New Daughter.” It was original, well-written, and entertaining, three elements that every good movie should have. It was one of those films that not only keeps you guessing but one that also has you on the edge of your seat. The creatures that inhabit the woods around the James’ house are pretty cool looking (even though you mostly just see bits them in the dark) and they are actually pretty intimidating (the sounds that they make are creepy as hell in my opinion). I ran across several negative reviews for the movie and I just have to disagree with them. While it may not be for every taste I for one found it to be quite enjoyable. If you have the opportunity to see it I recommend checking it out, you may just be surprised by how much you like it.
The New Daughter (2009)