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John James is a writer; his wife has left him. He moves with his middle-school aged daughter and young son to an isolated house off a dirt road in South Carolina. The property has an Indian burial mound, which fascinates his daughter, Louisa, who's entering puberty. Strange things: noises on the roof and in the woods, the cat missing, Luisa sleepwalking clutching a straw doll no one's seen before. She visits the mound often, staying late, coming home covered with mud. John's younger son, Sam, is frightened. John learns the house has a history and seeks out the previous owner. Louisa's behavior becomes more bizarre. Is there an explanation? An ant farm and a missing babysitter provide clues. Written by
James and his contractor prepare a batch of ANFO (ammonium nitrate + fuel oil) to blow up the mound. This is a 'tertiary' explosive, which means you cannot set it off with fire. It would just burn. To set off the detonation, you need to explode a secondary explosive, like a stick of dynamite, which in turn needs to be set off with a primary explosive, like a blasting cap. See more »
A recently divorced father (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. In the dark forest beyond their new house, strange noises can be heard, and soon the father comes to believe that there's something wrong with his daughter. Is it connected to the strange mound of earth amongst the trees?
"The New Daughter" is not a bad movie at all, but it's not especially great either and that's what I found so frustrating about it. It comes so very close to being brilliant but somehow fails when it should have succeeded. Perhaps part of the reason it fails is that it needed a stronger leading man at its centre. The entire movie rests upon Kevin Costner's shoulders and he seems to virtually sleepwalk through it. The only time you see a glimmer of emotion is when he pounds his fists gently against a wall in one scene to show his anger. The actors playing the children are fine, even if they don't exhibit a lot of emotive moments and simply go from A to B as required.
The director does a superb job providing a growing sense of dread at the situation, and there are a number of scenes where he employs the 'less is more' approach, leaving it up to the imagination of the audience as to what a dark shape amongst the trees might have been, or what might be making a strange noise behind a closed door. The movie has a slow, moody pace similar to movies such as "Signs" and "The Others" which also helps to enhance the atmosphere. The special effects in the later part of the movie are also very well done.
In conclusion, I would have to say that "The New Daughter" is 'okay'. It's certainly worth a rental if you like slower paced psychological horrors rather than the type of movie where everyone runs around attempting to avoid crazed killers. There's hardly any blood, and it does contain one or two good scares, although the plot is a bit predictable in places. I only wish that it was more than 'okay', because all of the elements were in place to make a far better movie and that's what ultimately frustrates me.
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