Kevin Costner hasn’t worked as much as he should have since his career faltered during the late 90s (around the time The Postman was released to a frankly astonishing amount of bilious criticism), and yet for a while, during that decade mostly, he cemented his position as one of the most genuinely likeable leading men. The ability is still there – more recent films like Open Range and particularly Mr Brooks confirm as much, and his work has also included under-rated films like 3000 Miles to Graceland, 13 Days and The Guardian – and some in Hollywood are still clearly willing to give him a chance. Hopefully Man of Steel will reannounce Costner as a viable Hollywood commodity, and not a relic of fifteen years ago.
But for now (well two years ago in fact), his “comeback” is prologued by this horror film from Luis Berdejo, which won’t quite do what Man of Steel will for Costner, but which at least confirms that an otherwise poor film can be made better thanks to his presence.
You would suspect that The New Daughter would be horrendously bad since there was no marketing campaign to back the release (back in 2009), and since the plot reads like a crib sheet of horror cliches – a man moves his family to a new home, only to find his daughter starts acting strangely and he begins to unravel a series of wierd discoveries that ultimately point towards some sinister force at work. there’s even an ancient Indian burial ground, and a misjudged diagnosis of growing pains to explain the daughter’s odd behaviour. It isn’t strictly speaking a completely familiar film: the plot does have some Stephen King like tones, but unfortunately for all of the good work, like the good-looking cinematography, and Costner’s performance, it doesn’t quite land the punch it needs to stand out as one of the better horrors of recent years.
It’s best to ignore the tag-line on the blu-ray below, as the film is sadly not a supernatural Die Hard variant, in which Costner’s desperate father fights off demons in order to save his possibly possessed daughter in a last-stand set-up. There is an element of that at the end admittedly, but I would probably have loved The New Daughter a lot more had it been that balls-out, rather than the split-personality offering that it ended up being.
There are good moments, but they pretty much all evaporate in the wake of the very silly third act that changes things dramatically for the worse and undoes all of Berdejo’s fine cinematographic and visual work. Up until that moment it is easy to forget that Beredjo is playing with a very cliched premise, limited even further by a narrative conceit that works much better off screen than when the monsters start to raise their horrible heads. The New Daughter is very much a case of less is more, which Berdejo initially seems to realise in his filmic approach, but which cannot wholly apply thanks to the script that clearly wants to be a lot more fantastical.
It isn’t one I would chose to rewatch many times (I might give it another chance, given the pedigree of the director – as the writer of [Rec]), but The New Daughter is a solid, if unspectacular genre addition.
Thanks largely to the hugely impressive aesthetics and Berdejo’s cinematographic manifesto, the source looks very good, and the blu-ray transfer does it good justice. Both exterior shots and interior are resplendent with detail and texture, colours are warm and rich, despite being predominantly earthy and natural – Beredjo has clearly consciously injected his palette with added warmth, to transcend the usual drabness of other generic additions.
The audio is equally impressive: the sound design plays a very important part in the general make-up of the film (to an insistent degree at certain points in fact), and while some choices appear to have been misjudged, they at least sound very impressive. Overall, it is a very good blu-ray transfer, and one that Anchor Bay can be very proud of.
Not exactly bare-bones, and Berdejo’s commentary makes for a good lesson, but there is very little else of note aside from 20 deleted scenes (far more than usual – at a massive 22 minutes as well) and a middling behind the scenes featurette that is solid but uninspiring.
- Commentary with director Luis Berdejo
- The New Daughter: Behind The Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
New Daughter is available to buy on Blu-ray now.
This article was first posted on October 20, 2011