The New Daughter
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The New Daughter can be found here.

The New Daughter is based on a short story of the same name by Irish novelist John Connelly. The story can be found in his collection of supernatural tales Nocturnes (2004). The story was adapted for the movie by screenwriter John Travis.

After being abandoned by their mother when she ran off with a new boyfriend, the two James children, teenaged Louisa James (Ivana Baquero) and her younger brother Sam (Gattlin Griffith), move into a new house with their father John (Kevin Costner). Unhappy with her mother and worried that her father will eventually abandon them, too, Louisa takes comfort lying on top of a strange mound, not knowing that the mound is home to a colony of ancient creatures, known as 'mound walkers,' who have plans to make Louisa their queen.

It was a mound walker, although the viewer doesn't know what it is until a bit later in the film. The footsteps in the hall and up the stairs also suggest that the mound walkers had access to the house even before the Jameses moved in.

Viewers have presented two possibilities: (1) Louisa was menstruating and the blood was a sign to the viewer that she was sexually mature. (2) A second possibility, the one that is favored by most viewers, is that Louisa had just been raped by one or more of the mound walkers when she was out lying on the mound.

Professor Evan White (Noah Taylor) from the University of Charleston, considered the foremost expert on ancient mounds and extinct civilizations, explains 'mound walkers' to John as 'a dying race of deities, weakened over thousands of years by the encroachment of humans onto their lands.' Because the mound walkers were an all-male race, they would need to find a young human female with whom to mate.

The doll was a gift from the mound walkers. Made of straw, the doll's abdomen was swollen, like that of a pregnant woman, due to a nutshell inside that contained spiders. The doll was meant to symbolize Louisa's new role as their queen, she who would give birth to their next generation.

The movie gives no indication of the cause for the rash, so viewers have come up with their own explanations. Since the rash looks like tiny bites, it's been suggested that they are (1) ant or spider bites obtained when she was lying in the leaves on the mound, or (2) bites from the mound walkers incurred while mating.

Miss Parker (Samantha Mathis) was pointing at Louisa when John found her on the kitchen floor with her throat slit, so most viewers assume that Louisa killed her.

It was a nest into which she would give birth when her time came.

John instructs Sam to wait in the house until the police get there. Then he goes searching for Louisa after grabbing some flares, a flashlight, and a high-powered rifle from Officer Lowry's trunk and emptying a can of gasoline around the mound. He crawls into one of the openings in the mound and finds himself in a labyrinth of tunnels. Using the flashlight to light his way, he locates Louisa lying in the dirt. He revives her and carries her through the tunnels looking for the way out, but they are pursued by the mound walkers. They make it outside of the tunnel, blowing up a few mound walkers on the way, and John blocks the tunnel with a gasoline barrel and lights a flare. Another mound walker appears to protect his queen. Covered with mud, Louisa begs John not to leave her, but she has begun to transform into one of the creatures. John drops the flare into the gasoline, and the mound explodes into flames. Meanwhile, Sam has come outside carrying a photo of himself, his sister, and his dad. In the glass's reflection, a unidentified figure can be seen walking toward him from out of the fire. Behind Sam can be seen three mound walkers, one climbing down a tree on the left of the screen, another climbing down the side of the house, and the third approaching on foot from the right side of the screen. Sam hears the crunching of leaves. In the final scene, Sam asks, 'Daddy?', but a screech is the only reply.

Their survival is hotly debated because of the ambiguity of the final scene. Some viewers say that it is John's reflection in the picture glass, while others suggest that it might be Louisa or a mound walker. With three mound walkers approaching Sam from behind, most viewers think his life is forfeited, unless John can get to him or the police arrive before the mound walkers reach the boy. A few viewers claim to hear a distinct click just after Sam says, 'Daddy?' suggesting that John may still have a gun. In the director's commentary, it is explained that the final scene is meant to be ambiguous so that the viewers can decide how they want to see the story ending.


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