Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kevin Costner, Samantha Mathis, Gattlin Griffith, Ivana Baquero
Directed by Luis Berdejo
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ever hear the expression “It’s like sliding on a comfy sweater”? That’s kind of how we feel when we’re reviewing a movie from Anchor Bay Entertainment. There was a time when they were rocking at least two horror movies a month, but alas, things have finally slowed down. Given their vast catalog of hits and misses, you just never know what you’re going to get from the company, and their latest title, The New Daughter, did exhibit all the earmarks of a headsy slow-paced snooze-fest. Good thing for us director Luis Berdejo had other plans.
The story is simple enough … after a messy and abrupt divorce John James (Costner) decides that he and his two kids, Louisa (Baquero) and Sam (Griffith), are really in need of a change of scenery so it’s off to the country they go. Of course, as you’d imagine, Louisa isn’t fond of leaving all of her friends as well as her mother behind so her teen angst is more than a handful for poor John as he tries desperately to put the pieces of their lives back together again.
One day the children discover an ancient burial mound (never a good sign) on their land, and if watching horror movies has taught us anything, it’s that rarely does anything ever stay buried. Said mound is inhabited by creatures who have a single purpose – possess young Louisa so they can procreate – and they’ll kill anyone who gets in their way.
Let me be clear — there are no psychological “is this or is this not happening” type shenanigans taking place here. This is very much a monster movie in every way shape and form, and that makes me a happy camper. It’s also one that is built more around atmosphere than in-your-face jump scares or over-the-top action so folks who are distracted easily may not appreciate its slow burn approach to story telling.
The creatures themselves are a good combination of both practical and CGI effects, and thankfully you never see too much of them so they remain on the creepy side of the fence. The real star here, though, is Ivana Baquero, who just as with Pan’s Labyrinth turns in a top-notch performance as the troubled teen who is a hair away from complete evil at any given moment.
The New Daughter does suffer from a few pacing issues that hold it back from being truly great, but other than that this is smooth horror sailing. Things don’t get bumpy until it’s time to visit the special features or should we say lack thereof?
The only differences between the DVD and the Blu-ray packages are purely on the technical level. Yes, the Blu looks and sounds better. This is a given, but sometimes the new technology also yields some cool extras that are not possible on the standard definition disc format due to memory and storage restrictions. This is not the case here. In fact, the extras are pretty standard even for a DVD only release.
We get a perfectly square package – a director’s commentary, your standard ten-minute making-of, about twenty deleted scenes (most of which are purely expository), and the trailer – and we’re done. Nothing at all to write home about. Just your average going through the motions stuff. Still, it’s better than nothing I guess.
The New Daughter may not be the perfect “person” to spend an evening with, but she does deliver some spot on chills every now and again, some nifty lookin’ Gollum-esque beasties, and a thankfully uncompromising third act. Way better than expected!
3 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5