The New Daughter – Review
There is a new trend in theatrical distribution and I’m not sure if everyone is noticing it. Studios are becoming quite sneaky in trying to release a movie in a theater, under everyone’s radar, with no ad campaign to speak of. You heard me right, no billboards along the freeway, no trailer or TV spots, no word of mouth to get you amped for the film. While most people eventually got wind of the Midnight Meat Train debacle, two other genre friendly titles got the shaft recently. The first being Joel Schumacher’s Blood Creek [Lionsgate again], and the latest to get the boot into a few theaters nationwide is the latest film starring Kevin Costner – The New Daughter.
Recently divorced father John James [Kevin Costner] moves his teenage daughter Louisa [Ivana Baquero] and son Sam [Gattlin Griffith] to the rural town of Mercy, South Carolina for a fresh start. Louisa is not happy about her new surroundings, new school, and new home as she misses her mother. While roaming her backyard, she stumbles upon a huge mound in the ground that resembles an ant hill. After her first visit, she becomes more and more obsessed with the mysterious incline that is taking over her body and soul.
After an altercation with a girl at school and the disappearance of the babysitter, John dials up the internet and finds out this is not the first time something bizarre has happened in his house. Years before – another young girl was chosen as the new queen for an all male race of beings known as “Mound Walkers”, a breed of deity who burrow under the ground and whose very existence depends on John’s newly crowned daughter.
I’ve never been a fan of Kevin Costner, and here is a movie where he has to carry a lot of screen time and emotion, and fails on both big time. That monotone voice and Wrangler jeans look is supposed to make me care about the big lug as he is burdened by the fact he has to take care for his children all by himself. His daughter continues to visit that big piece of dirt and starts acting wacko, sorry buddy, it’s time to get the whip out on that “emo biatch” and show her who’s the boss. Ivana Baquero [Pan’s Labyrinth] is cute as a button, but is damn annoying as she whines at every opportunity.
Luckily, the film is not a complete loss as director Luis Berdejo balances the quiet horror well as the story holds back in showing the creatures to the very end. When we do finally see them they are impressive specimens who are black and slimy, have some wicked chompers, and are humanoid in appearance. The New Daughter is based on a short story [by John Connolly] of the same name, and adapted to the screen by John Travis [The Haunting of Molly Hartley], well, these two fellows must be fans of Neil Marshall. The look of the monsters, and the fact that they spend most of their time underground in tunnels, there is no way you can’t help but think of The Descent. That is a noble film to try and imitate, but in the end, this one goes down swinging.