Overlooked: 'The New Daughter' Is a Chilling, Twisted Creature Feature

Overlooked: 'The New Daughter' Is a Chilling, Twisted Creature Feature

Aug 07, 2015

There are just too many movies being made these days to see everything. But even if you had the time to seek out everything, some movies just fall through the cracks. Maybe they were misunderstood at the time. Maybe they got an unlucky release date and were overshadowed by bigger or similar movies. Or, most likely, maybe they got a bum distribution deal and were simply hard to see in the first place.

So we're going to try something new and spotlight some of our favorite movies that were legitimately overlooked. And we don't just mean, "Hey, we recently saw this movie and how come no one was talking about?" when in reality everyone once was and we just happened to not hear about it. Obviously other people have seen these movies, but going off the evidence below, the odds are many have not only never seen it, but have never even heard of it.

But you should see 2009's The New Daughter, starring Kevin Costner, the girl from Pan's Labyrinth (Ivana Baquero), and a pretty dang freaky creature. It's a twisted little horror movie that takes a well-trodden premise and does some cool, new, creepy things with it.


The case for it being overlooked

Exhibit A: Its theatrical release was so small, Box Office Mojo doesn't even have a record for it.

Exhibit B: Despite it being nearly 6 years old, only 10,700 people have rated it on IMDb. By comparison, Insidious: Chapter 3 is barely even two months old and already has been rated over twice as many times on the same site.

Exhibit C: The Blu-ray's current Best Sellers Rank on Amazon is #84,091. By comparison, The Unborn, a much worse horror movie from the same year, is ranked #29,185.

Exhibit D: It's not available on Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime, which means it may as well not even exist to people who exclusively watch movies that way.

Exhibit E: The most viewed copy of the trailer on YouTube has only 495,182 views. By comparison, the trailer for Orphan, which was also released in 2009, has two different uploads on YouTube that each have over 3 million views. (Which is cool because Orphan also rules.)

Exhibit F: There are only 9 (!) critics reviews for The New Daughter on Rotten Tomatoes.


Why you should track it down

Kevin Costner stars as a recently divorced father who moves his kids into a new house in the middle of the country. His young son doesn't care too much, but his high school daughter is having an understandably harder time. And while this 'family moves to the country after a trauma' setup is certainly something that's been done on the regular in horror movies, what happens next isn't quite so standard.

The daughter starts spending more and more time in the woods. There's a strange mound back there that seems to be calling for her. And she starts changing. But this isn't just going through puberty or a phase, there is something happening to her. 

What separates The New Daughter from similar movies, though, is that it doesn't try to have its cake and eat it too by playing this vague game of "Is she changing? Is there really something in the woods?" There's nothing vague about it. There is something in the woods and director Luiso Berdejo (co-writer of [REC]) makes that pretty clear far earlier than most horror movies do. In fact, the first time you see what's coming from the mound is fantastic and disarming because normally horror likes to drag out the suspense and make you wonder if there really is something out there. I love how quickly it switches from a hypothetical to a "Nope, it's happening."

And because the movie provides proof of what's happening at all the right times, The New Daughter takes on this refreshing tone that's not a drawn out game of "Well, it could be..." No, this s--t is going down and Kevin Costner is understandably in over his head trying to figure out what in the hell he's going to do about it. The investigative side of the story becomes less about answers and more about just hoping Costner can find a solution.

So The New Daughter has a really neat story and approach to an otherwise formulaic scenario. But what also really sets it apart is some smart, gorgeous cinematography that uses shadows and the natural environment to great effect. Berdejo doesn't try to jolt the audience with loud noises and jump scares. This is a horror movie, but it's not even so much about Scaring the audience with a capital S, it's more about creeping them out with this consistent sense of doom that is rolling over Costner's life like ants over a trapped animal.

The New Daughter also has some great supporting actors - Samantha Mathis, Erik Palladino and Noah Taylor all make good use of their time - and a perfect ending that's the best home invasion sequence this side of Signs. It's just an all around solid movie, and if you've grown tired of haunted house trends these days, if you need a break from possessions and paranormal investigations, this is a really classy piece of horror that should stand out even more today than it did in 2009, when it came out and no one noticed or cared.


Categories: Features, Horror
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