STDVD: The New DaughterJune 14, 2010
Well, it stars Kevin Costner … but you’ve never heard of it. Must’ve missed it in the theatres, eh? No. It didn’t make it that far. This is one of the hallmark rules of Straight To DVD: if it stars a famous actor but never had a cinematic release. Welcome to The New Daughter.
Take equal parts Burnt Offerings, Orphan, The Blair Witch Project and The Ring, stir them up with some classic Costneristic acting and you have this modest horror offering, which I expected to find derivative, and did. But it also gave me a couple of solid spooks, kept me guessing and, in the end, made me forget that I had seen it all before.
Well, not all of it. This is a film about a recently divorced writer whose wife has run off with another man, leaving him with two kids. His son, Sam, worships him. His daughter, Louisa, hates him and blames him. So off they go, moving to a small town, into a big old country house with an burial mound in the back.
That’s the part that I liked: the mound. As the movie progresses, the mound takes on an interesting and chilling significance.
Costner is pretty good in this. He seems to have resigned himself to the fact that his glory days are over, and is making a movie he wants to make. And for good reason: the film is based on a short story by the amazing and eerie Irish mystery writer John Connolly, author of the Charlie Parker paranormal detective series. (Note: Read those books.)
Of course, there are endless shots of Costner’s ass, beginning with the opening; you don’t see his face for the first couple of minutes, just his faded Levis walking around. I had to wonder if he told the director to aim down. This is Spanish director Luis Bardejo’s first work, so he might have been swayed a bit, but if this film is any indication, Bardejo won’t be taking guff from aging Hollywood stars much longer.
But the real star here is Ivana Baquero, the little girl from Pan’s Labyrinth, who just shines, in a bleak, grim, grubby way, as the teenaged daughter, the “new daughter” of the title. She’s the scariest pipsqueak on the planet, if you ask me.
It isn’t very often that a horror movie can be this unoriginal and yet still work so well. And that makes it worth seeing.