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The New Daughter(2009)
The imaginative world of author John Connolly ("The Book of Lost Things") comes alive in this haunting adaptation of one of his short stories. A father begins to worry when his young daughter doesn't seem like herself, and he looks to the burial mound near their new home for answers.
For more about The New Daughter and the The New Daughter Blu-ray release, see the The New Daughter Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 6, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ivana Baquero, Gattlin Griffith, Samantha Mathis, Noah Taylor
Director: Luis Berdejo
» See full cast & crew
The New Daughter Blu-ray Review
A surprisingly effective Horror movie yields a good Blu-ray release from Anchor Bay.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 6, 2010
I think something bad is going to happen now.
Kevin Costner, Horror movie star. That's the image surrounding the acclaimed actor over the past few years, starring first in the disturbingly chilling Mr. Brooks and, now, in The New Daughter, these pictures sandwiched around a more traditionally light and cuddly Costner-esque effort in Swing Vote. Though the actor's appeared in dark films in the past -- Revenge, for instance -- he's best known for his work in celebrated Dramas, Westerns, and Baseball films, each a far cry from the spooks that define The New Daughter. The Waterworld actor's latest Horror/Thriller picture sees Costner as the father of two young children, one of whom falls victim to a terrifying ancient force that threatens to tear his already-fragile family even further apart. Though a picture that enjoyed but a limited theatrical run and must therefore find its audience on home video, The New Daughter proves itself to be a decent genre outing that's built around atmosphere first and visual scares last, a formula that suits this and others like it well.
Recently-divorced father John James (Costner) is moving with his two children, Louisa (Ivana Baquero) and Sam (Gattlin Griffith), to a rural South Carolina home. Though the home appears beautifully idyllic, locals react strangely when they learn that the family has moved in, sharing with James rumors of dastardly deeds that have plagued former residents. Louisa discovers a mysterious mound out beyond the house, and soon thereafter her attitude begins to change. She's attracted to it to a point that seems unnatural, as if it holds a magnetic power over her, whether against her will or not. John, whose relationship with his daughter is already strained under the pressures of his divorce, takes solace in Sam's teacher, Cassandra (Samantha Mathis, Broken Arrow), with whom he creates a bond -- to Louisa's disapproval. As James struggles to identify the new girl in his daughter's body, he becomes increasingly aware of the history of his new home and the dangers of the dirt mound, dangers that could ultimately tear his family apart for good.
In the absence of anything beyond what is often deliberate and piece-by-piece plot construction with no real visual payoff until the end, the filmmakers behind The New Daughter instead employ a series of decidedly creepy atmospherics throughout the film. The New Daughter is slow to build to be sure but it's rarely outright dull. The picture never delves into traditional splatter territory, instead choosing -- and smartly so -- to bring about its own brand of terror through what are today less conventional but certainly far more dramatically and psychologically effective methods. Indeed, The New Daughter relies on a sound design that at worst keeps the film moving along and at best yields some spine-tingling and hair-raising implied scares alongside a few scattered visual reinforcements -- odd footprints, dirt-laden bodies, or insects -- that add a bit more weight to what is nothing short of an abundance of Horror/Chiller/Thriller musical cues and creepy sound effects. The result is a sound design that often encompass the entire soundstage and allows the movie to maintain a somewhat tense posture, even in those instances where there's little of note happening on-screen. The payoff at the end is is worth the effort; it's somewhat anti-Hollywood -- always a positive -- and also welcome in the broader spectrum of the picture's intense but not visually-repulsive elements that give more credence to the film than were it just another ordinary monster-mashing gore-fest throughout its entire length.
Stylistically, there's a "Shaymalan-lite" feel to The New Daughter. Much like a couple of M. Night's superior early films, Director Luis Berdejo carefully constructs his story in a family setting where one or two off-kilter events slowly blossom into something far more deadly and unexpected, the picture taking its time to get to where its going, but not to the detriment of flow. The only major difference is that there's no twist ending, at least not in a traditional Shyamalan style, the picture instead devolving into a more audience-friendly action sequence that does, to the betterment of the experience, stray from what convention says should be the film's ultimate resolution. There are also elements of The Messengers -- family moves into a country house with a dark history -- and The Descent, though The New Daughter is never as excessively gory as is Neil Marshall's excellent splatter picture. Kevin Costner acquits himself well in what is a fairly reserved "everyman" role; he did well playing another such character in Swing Vote, and even though there's obviously a drastic shift in tone between the two pictures, the characters prove somewhat interchangeable at least as far as the base elements of their personas go. Indeed, Costner seems to best excel when portraying more relatable "everyman" characters but with some extenuating circumstance tossed into the mix; his Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams is the best example, but even his critically-drubbed effort in The Postman makes for a good example of Costner doing well as a regular guy thrust into some extraordinary situation. Both Ivana Baquero and Gattlin Griffith do well in their roles as Costner's children, while Samantha Mathis and character actor James Gammon impress in smaller supporting roles.
The New Daughter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Anchor Bay brings The New Daughter to Blu-ray with an oftentimes striking 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Anchor Bay's image is consistently sharp and pleasing to the eye, boasting wonderful detailing, strong colors, and fine depth throughout. The picture opens with some gorgeous exterior shots of nature and wildlife about the South Carolina estate. Anthills, a scaly-skinned frog, and various other outdoor elements are reproduced with a sparkling barrage of color and intricate details, qualities that remain throughout the picture. Interior scenes, whether bright or dark, also reveal crisp and lifelike textures on well-worn wood floors inside the house or cinder block walls inside the school building. Colors are extraordinarily vibrant -- appearing a bit warm and with a slightly reddish and golden tint -- reflecting Director Luis Berdejo's intended visual scheme that lends to the picture a brighter tone rather than the generally drab and lifeless color palettes employed by other genre pictures. Though this transfer retains a fine layer of grain that only spikes over some darker scenes throughout the movie, The New Daughter features a slightly glossy sheen but the image is no less film-like or eye-catching as a result. Blacks are consistently deep but sometimes crush object detail, and flesh tones occasionally exhibit a slight red push. Though there's some blatant banding evident in one of the climactic scenes, this is a still an upper-echelon Blu-ray transfer from Anchor Bay.
The New Daughter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The New Daughter features a quality PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. Though not the most elegant or absolutely seamless presentation, there's plenty good throughout that brings the South Carolina atmosphere to life while enhancing the picture's extensive use of sound-as-unnerving-horror. Indeed, the picturesque South Carolina exteriors are often abuzz in environmental ambience that does well to immerse the listener into the locale, and as the track picks up in intensity and begins delivering a series of finely-tuned and sometimes spine-tingling sound effects to heighten the tension, uncertainty, and fear factor of the movie, Anchor Bay's uncompressed mix proves up to the challenge of enhancing every aspect of the picture's crucial sound design. The track makes strong use of the back channels in creating what is at several junctures throughout an intense sonic experience, notably as thunder sharply cracks and naturally reverberates about the listening area in both chapters five and six and through generalized musical cues that are delivered crisply and with a palpable rear-channel support structure. The New Daughter features a low end that doesn't come out to play on a consistent basis, but the track implements a bit of bass as-needed and does so to fine, though not earth-shattering, effect. The New Daughter is a sound-dependent picture, and Anchor Bay's uncompressed Blu-ray mix supports the picture's crucial sonic elements very well.
The New Daughter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The New Daughter's Blu-ray release yields a few extras, first among them a commentary track with Director Luis Berdejo. He speaks extensively on his shooting techniques as well as his desire to craft a Horror picture with a brighter palette. He also shares his thoughts on the various shooting locales and the benefits of filming in South Carolina, some of the nuances of Kevin Costner's performance, various Horror movie elements that proved necessary in the construction of the film, and much more. Berdejo proves engaging and informative; those that enjoy the movie will want to follow up with his commentary. The New Daughter: Behind the Scenes (480p, 10:53) is a nuts-and-bolts piece that features cast and crew delving into the picture's themes and the complexities of the plot, the work of Director Luis Berdejo, and the quality of the film. Also included is a collection of 20 deleted scenes (480p, 22:25) and The New Daughter theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:18).
The New Daughter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Considering the lack of a wide theatrical release and little-to-no appreciable marketing behind it, The New Daughter is a film that's going to have to rely on word-of-mouth and the presence of Kevin Costner to move rental and sale units. The picture's definitely a worthwhile endeavor, even if it is, more or less, a direct to video release. The production values and overall quality of the film say otherwise, though, but the DTV label is a stigma that might prove too big a hurdle to overcome. The New Daughter may also not appeal to the hardcore Splatter-Horror fan base, either, but those looking for a well-conceived and smartly-constructed picture can do far worse. The New Daughter isn't exactly cerebral cinema, but its tense and well-crafted atmosphere does suit the movie well and rewards patient viewers with a good, sometimes exhilarating, often chilling, and never dull picture. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of The New Daughter delivers an above-average A/V presentation, and the lack of a more substantial supplemental section comes as no surprise considering the film's lack of heavy marketing or theatrical success. The New Daughter definitely comes recommended as a rental, though fans of the film, Blu-ray collectors, and other potential buyers can rest assured that the quality is Blu-worthy.
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The New Daughter Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The New Daughter Blu-ray Announced (Update) - March 11, 2010
Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced The New Daughter, the English-language directorial debut for Luis Berdejo, co-writer of [rec]. Edition details are still pending. This horror thriller stars Kevin Costner and Ivana Baquero (Ofelia from Pan's Labyrinth). It ...
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