Movie Review: The New Daughter (2009)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2009 thriller starring Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero.

Synopsis: A newly-divorced writer moves to a house in rural South Carolina with his two kids. Shortly after moving in, his daughter begins to exhibit strange and sometimes aggressive behavior and, after learning it happened to a previous occupant in the house, he begins to believe her changes are related to an ancient burial mound.

Review

I came across this film on one of our movie channels a couple weeks ago and, since it looked somewhat interesting, decided to record it. My wife and I finally had a chance to watch it last night and, overall, I thought it was a decent choice.

When we first started watching this movie, I thought it was going to be very predictable. After all, it had many elements I've seen in other films from the horror/thriller genre, including the single parent trying to raise a rebellious child. And, when there was quite a bit of discussion about ants, I kind of figured the evil presence would have something to do with that.

However, as it turns out, that wasn't the case with this film. Yes, some parts were similar to other horror movies. But, the movie manages to keep quite a few details just vague enough to keep things interesting. As a result, for a while at least, I wasn't really sure what the dad (Costner) was dealing with. Was it a weird bug problem? Were there other strange creatures on his property? Or, did his daughter (Baquero) just need some serious psychiatric help?

Another thing I liked about this movie was the fact the daughter's changes were much more subtle than you would normally see in a movie from this genre. Since, from the beginning, the daughter has the wild, hormonal mood swings, caused in part by both the new move and the fact her mom pretty much abandoned them, her future changes were, at least in the beginning, weren't anything overly significant. Because of this, it was much more believable when her dad and everyone else involved thought her new moods could be normal. In other words, I liked it much better than I would have had she started out being chipper and optimistic.

If I had any real complaints about this movie, it would be the choice of Costner in the starring role. He wasn't awful but he also wasn't particularly memorable and, if anything, his supporting cast helped carry this movie. In other words, the filmmakers probably could have cast a lesser-known (cheaper) actor in that role and it wouldn't have had a significant impact on the quality. In fact, I think the performance of the supporting cast (especially Baquero) is what made this film worth watching.

Final Opinion

It's not the best horror movie/thriller I've watched. But, it does have some decent moments and, overall, is worth taking the time to watch at least once. I would recommend it as a result of that.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 12/14/2015, StevenHelmer
 
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