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New Daughter, The 
Written by: on May 4th, 2010


Theatrical Release Date:
USA, December 18th 2009
Director: Luis Berdejo
Writers: John Travis (screenplay), John Connolly (short story)
Cast: Kevin Costner, Ivana Baquero, Samantha Mathis, Noah Taylor, Erik Palladino.

DVD released: May 18th, 2010
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG-13
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Anchor Bay
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98


Recently divorced author and all-around sad sack John James (Kevin Costner) moves into a big house in rural South Carolina with his children Sam and Louisa (Ivana Baquero). It’s a nice piece of land they’ve bought, lots of space, creepy woods, big old Native American burial mound right out in the backyard, d’oh! It’s not long before the James family are hearing odd noises in the night and wishing they hadn’t let the cat out to play. Louisa in particular is affected strangely by her new surroundings and begins to exhibit worrying tendencies; spending a lot of time lying out on the mound, sleepwalking and coming home caked in dirt and mud carrying straw dolls, pushing classmates down the stairs, etc. Wonder if it’s got anything to do with those odd insect bites that are peppering her neck and back?

John eventually can’t ignore his daughter’s antics and the general weirdness surrounding the property anymore and starts doing some digging via the internet. Which leads him to a beardy scientist (Noah Taylor) with some dodgy theories about ‘Gods that lived beneath the mounds’ and more importantly to the story of the previous owners of the property. A mother and daughter, both now deceased, and a handy, still living and quite chatty scary grandpa that tells John the whole gory story about how he had to burn his granddaughter alive because of what she had become! Finally with some almost solid info to go on, John races back to his house to get his family the hell out of there but the denizens of the mound have other plans for Louisa.

Let’s get it out of the way quickly; terrible title, tedious film! All the standard horror/thriller boxes are checked; dysfunctional family, new house, middle of nowhere, dead pet, creepy woods, things going bump in the night, fog, thunder, lightning, tales about the property being haunted related by locals, scary old coot warning the family to get out before it’s too late, little kid whispers “I think something bad is going to happen now”. And despite all that very little happens in the first hour of the film. Just about the only thing that does surprise is the presence of Costner in a horror flick. Luis Berdejo (co-writer of [Rec]) does have an eye for composing scenes and it’s a well shot film certainly but the tone is all over the place. Perhaps he hoped simply by casting Ivana Baquero and making her crawl around holes in the ground he could trick viewers into recapturing some of the magic of her performance as Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth, but nope. It’s a truly painful experience watching Costner as John slowly picking up clues that something might be amiss then eventually making his way to bloody Google for the answers! In fact the one enjoyable aspect of the first two thirds of the movie is the unintentional running gag that John seems to want to do just about anything but work on his new novel. As for the ending, well let’s just say if you didn’t want your money back before you got to the finale you definitely will as the credits roll!

The DVD:

Anamorphic transfer looks very good, strong colors, clean image. The soundtrack is balanced and clear.

No extras on this screener but the official release will include a director commentary and a behind the scenes featurette apparently.

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