Jun 8, 2011
It hit me with the combined force of a thundering stampede, this Kevin Costner desire. As a pregnant woman would awaken in the middle of the night yearning various sweets, I, too, experienced an all too similar craving for junk food which I discovered the films of Kevin Costner. Realistically, it had been years since I have sat down and paid mind to his various methods of acting - whether it be of an assertive and bold villainous mold (3000 Miles to Graceland) or an all-American Joe (A Perfect World), albeit confrontational and quick-to-kill as the human genome would have it. I had ran into The New Daughter multiple times since its release but have passed it off as marquee fodder. Big name actors mixed with hurried horror never seem to go the way of quality but after eventually collecting a large mass of Costner titles and indulging in The New Daughter I must now redefine my standards of acceptance. Obviously heading the cast, Kevin Costner plays single father (John James) to an insecure daughter all too well. There's the son too, but not much focus is given to him as his role in the family is young mediator to a detached teenage girl. Moving into a house located in a rural area, things quickly shift from tolerable to dreadful as his daughter becomes more and more disheveled and distant, which may or may not have to do with a large mound of earth located directly on the property.
Now I must admit, another factor in my deciding against The New Daughter were select reviews opposing the film in its entirety. Some even went as far as suggesting it be among the ranks of SyFy films while crucifying the poor film for not being "cool" or "exciting". To be fair, these notions are true for the most part, there are no stunning car chases to be found in The New Daughter, nor are there any choreographed scenes of combat. But to its credit, The New Daughter drips with dread and conceals itself in a dense and murky atmosphere. The woodland deities that crawl through the forest produce some of the most unnerving howls in recent creature cinema memory. Luiso Berdejo (writer of [Rec]) has expertly crafted a spooky thriller in which Costner is given free reign to adapt to survive. Also in tune with the feminine abscess is the soundtrack consisting of drone and slight distortions - almost like ripples through the terror. Another great quality of The New Daughter is how understanding the film is of its earthen aesthetic. Brush, twigs, soil, and branches play a large part of morphing a backyard into an embryonic tomb home to strange "mound-walkers" - nocturnal creatures that prowl, searching for a queen to ensure continuity of their species. And it is thus that makes The New Daughter such an eerie coming-of-age tale, one woven from fascination of barrows and ancient civilizations.
But the fascination comes at a steep price. Most Western efforts of fantasy covering such native ruins tend to skip from the wondrous reach of a (past)traditional way of life to cold, hard terror of the unknown. It is the act of demonizing things unknown or peculiar to us that make for such excellent horror fodder. Now most complaints tend to adhere to the minimalism that is employed (very effectively, mind you) or the lack of parenting skills on Costner's behalf. Both arguments are ludicrous as both tend to the characters of the film rather than the finished product. If Costner's character John made an error in judgment then that can be directly attributed to a character flaw. The New Daughter is striking, brooding, violent when it needs to be, and quite tragic. It also happens to be one of the finest direct to video horror films I have seen yet. With ambiguity clouding the ending for all, The New Daughter is sure to alienate viewers. Take a second to loosen restraint on strict judgment and give The New Daughter a whirl. Whether or not you enjoy it, it is more consistent in quality than a vast majority of cinematic practices out there. Have you a penchant for realized night terrors, the otherworldly mound-walkers might be enough to rattle your bones. If not the sight than surely the bone-rattling shrieks and stammers of such a dying breed. I can hear them purring away nightmare fuel as I type.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 10:40 AM
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