Blu-ray
Give it a Rent
3 stars
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Give it a Rent

The New Daughter

Street Date:
May 18th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
May 6th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Starz/Anchor Bay
Length:
109 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's as if director Luis A. Berdejo and screenwriter John Travis wanted to put together a horror allegory to explain why teenage daughters just start hating their parents for no reason when they reach puberty. There must be a reason right? Blame it on The Mound People they're always messing everything up.

John James (Kevin Costner, 'The Postman' ) is going through a tough divorce. His wife just up and left him and their two children one day. Louisa (Ivana Baquero, 'Pan's Labyrinth' ) and Sam (Gattlin Griffith, 'Couples Retreat' ) are John's kids. Sam is the by-the-book sniveling son, who we mostly see cowering in the corner, or hiding from the "scary noises" in his fort. Louisa is entering that stage of teenage life where everything is just completely lame, especially her dad. To get away from the hurt caused by their mom leaving, John decides to move everyone out to a large house in the middle of the forest.

Yes, we've seen it all before. Big house, nobody around, the dad's a writer who spends most his time at home, the townsfolk might be hiding something, creepy noises abound, people follow sounds and fasts moving things they ought not be following, mutilated pets turn up. You know, the usual incidents for a run-of-the-mill horror film like this.

Then, Louisa finds a mound in the backyard of the house. We soon learn it's an ancient Indian burial mound. Yeah, things just never work out well when an ancient Indian burial plot is found near your house, just ask the Freeling family.

You know from the trailer what you're in for. Jump scares, ominous eerie music, and possible otherworldly creatures. 'The New Daughter' for all its made-for-TV charm, still does a decent job of building suspense. But make no mistake, 'The New Daughter' in no way redefines the horror genre. It's a semi-solid attempt, but overall, it just feels cheesy and hokey.

John goes through the motions as he tries to figure out what is happening to his daughter. She's changing, and he's got to dig into the past of the house (surprise, surprise, a horror movie that involves the main character Googling historical information that proves vital). John is intent on getting through to his daughter, and in his confusion he misinterprets quite a few things, chalking it up to teenage hormones and angst. Louisa gradually puts on a sourer demeanor and sulks around the house with mud on her feet and dirt covering her hands. She's up to something, that's for sure.

There are creatures, yes, but that's a given. I won't tell you what they are, or why they're there, but they make their presence known with rolling fog and noises that sound uncannily like a pack of Velociraptors cornering prey. Of course they're meat eaters, where's the fun in having vegetarian monsters?

'The New Daugher' has a few things going for it. Solid acting performances from Costner and Baquero and a few genuine jump-worthy moments, but overall, it just falls flat, leaving us with nothing but the feeling that we just watched a 100 minute 'X-Files' episode.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

You name it, 'The New Daughter's got it.

Stunningly detailed outdoor scenes, check. Murky, indistinguishable night scenes, check. Soft shots rendering fine detail unseen, check.

What I'm trying to say is that the VC-1-encoded 1080p transfer of 'The New Daughter' is all over the place when it comes to video quality. Some of the outdoor scenes, especially while Louisa is lying on the leaf-covered mound, are extremely detailed, with perfect color timing. Other times, mostly in the dimly lit house, contrast is runs the scale of manageable to horrendous. Delineation leaves much to be desired, as many actors' faces and bodies disappear into the surrounding darkness. It's just never consistent. It's what you would expect from a lower budget film, that's for sure. The inconsistent video quality, lends itself more toward a film that was meant to be shown on the SyFy channel late at night. While there are a few scenes in here that may give you reason to watch, most of the film is filled with soft shots, strange color timing, and unnoticeable detail. As for technical anomalies, banding does occur on occasion, and some source noise exists, but I didn't notice any blocking or aliasing.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The 5.1 PCM soundtrack provides a little more for your money. It's a worthy soundtrack for a film of this nature.

Eerie sounds, grunts, and growls fill every speaker, as you feel the creatures moving around the room. Off-screen sound effects like a creaking door or a cracking branch are handled with perfect directionality. A lot of the creepy sound effects, like the thunder claps just at the right time, are so terribly forced it's laughable, but they sound great. LFE also gets a healthy workout here, as most of the music provided is accompanied by deep threatening bass. Dialogue is a little soft, I found myself having to adjust my center speaker a tad to hear what was being said, especially the whispering. The problem here is that too much adjustment can lead to overwhelming sound effects, like the dialogue and the effects weren't quite mixed right. The sound effects boom, while the voices tend more to the softer side. It's a bit tricky to juggle. Overall, I was pretty impressed by 'The New Daugther's audio offerings. Nothing demo-worthy, but a serviceable track nonetheless that does more than an adequate job keeping the intense scenes intense.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary - Director Luis A. Berdejo provides a fairly in-depth commentary about the shooting aesthetic and what it was like to shoot in South Carolina. He talks about having to use certain stand-by horror elements to create the creepy atmosphere he was going for, but also notes that he was trying to create a horror film with a much lighter color palette than we've come to expect from other films of the same genre. The commentary isn't jaw-dropping in the information dispensed, but it should fill a need for people who like the movie and want to know more about it.
  • The New Daughter: Behind the Scenes (SD, 11 min) - My wife likes to watch behind-the-scenes featurettes after a movie that scared her just so she can realize it was all fake. Here we get all the requisite actor interviews, although Kevin Costner seems more than bored talking about the film. We do get to see a little bit of the costume dressing that created the ground-dwelling creatures, which made my wife happy, because she was able to realize it was just people inside those latex suits.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 22 min) - A large collection of 20 deleted scenes is included. Most all of them were probably cut for pacing issues. Not one of them is really worth watching. They seem to be stuck here, more or less, to fill the special features section up.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min) - The high definition theatrical trailer for the movie is included. Didn't even know this played in theaters. News to me as it has a whopping seven reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'The New Daughter' got lost somewhere in the marketing machine. It's a somewhat decent thriller/horror film, but in the end it gets mired down in too many horror film clich├ęs. The video is decent most of the time, and nigh unwatchable some of the time. The audio is the real treat here, it works well at creating a creep-infested atmosphere. There's nothing truly "special" in the bonus features, just the same old same old. 'The New Daughter' deserves to be seen, but only if you have nothing else to watch while you're home alone on a Saturday morning.

Technical Specs

  • 1- BD-25 Single-Layer Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • English PCM 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English and Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio commentary by Director Luis Berdejo
  • The New Daughter Behind-the-scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
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