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.
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 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 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 clichés. 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.