The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The New Daughter (2009)
We continue our big screen stars to DTV week with Kevin Costner in The New Daughter. You may remember, back when I did box office bomb posts, that we looked at Waterworld, so this isn't Costner's first trip at the DTVC rodeo. When I had in mind to do this week of big screen stars in DTV flicks, I was looking for a fourth film, and saw this one reviewed at Deadly Dolls House of Horror Nonsense. It was obvious that I as the Direct to Video Connoisseur hadn't been doing his due diligence, because this bad boy had totally slipped past my radar. I think I'm losing my edge.
The New Daughter has Costner as a writer/father that moves his daughter and son to a remote South Carolina town. At first he thinks his daughter's (played by Ivana Baquero from Pan's Labyrinth) rebellious behavior is a mix of usual teen angst and the stress of the move-- which was prompted by his wife and the kids' mother running off with some dude-- but when that behavior becomes downright creepy, he starts to think the Native American burial mound on the property might be to blame. Will he figure things out in time to save his daughter?
As a horror flick, you've seen this numerous times before. From the twenty minute mark, when Costner's at the local grocery store and the people behind the counter do the ol' "oh, you moved there?..." "Yeah, why?" "Oh, no reason... just town gossip... nothing really..." "Uh-huh.", you know this thing is going right down the same secluded country road you've been on before. The thing that was interesting though, was the sense I got that had this been a family drama, maybe a notch above the Lifetime variety, but with all the demon/horror crap taken out of it, you'd have something of a really high quality. Costner and Baquero have a great chemistry, and it would've been nicer to see them work through normal real life conflicts. For instance, there's a scene where Costner is typing terms like "crazy teen daughter" and "horrible parent" into a search engine, desperate for help in dealing with Baquero. It would've been funny and endearing if we didn't already know his daughter is possessed by a demon, if it was just a single dad trying to be the best parent he can yet totally lost at sea. But this was intended to be a horror film, not a family drama, and on that score, it was pretty pedestrian.
All right Mr. Costner, we have your rap sheet in front of us. Won two Oscars, though neither for acting; known for some of the biggest films of the last 25 years or so-- and some of the biggest busts; at one point was pulling in $15 million a picture. As recently as a year before this, he was the lead in Swing Vote, and though that came in $5 million short of making it's budget back, it did pretty good for a movie about one guy deciding the Presidential election, the kind of thing that shouldn't have made it past the screenwriter's computer, let alone have a $20 million-plus film production made from it. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, why on Earth would he have chosen this project? Was he so appalled by Swing Vote that he needed something, anything, with some blood in it? I'm telling you, he would've knocked that family drama I described above out of the park. I'm glad after this he went to the ensemble indie flick The Company Men. Great Mass accent. Hopefully he'll do more of those and less of these.
Here's a message to all horror directors out there: stay away from the Psycho shower scene. I don't care if you're just paying homage to it by showing us a drain like we got here, leave it alone. In hockey there's an unwritten rule: people don't wear the number 99. Gretzky wore 99, he was the greatest of all time, so everyone else leaves it alone out of respect for what he did for the game. The same thing should be done with copping any element of the Psycho shower scene in horror films. Just lay off it, you're not doing yourself any favors.
We had a solid supporting cast in this one, including Ivana Baquero, whom I mentioned above. It was actually too bad she had to go through the whole being possessed thing, because she would've made a great, nuanced teen daughter in the family drama. In the scenes when she wasn't possessed early on, she and Costner played off each other great. We also had Samantha Mathis as a teacher at the local school who befriends Costner. She would've also been great as Costner's new love interest as he finally moves on after his wife dumped him, had they gone with the family drama. Then there was the woefully underused Noah Taylor as the professor that was an expert in burial mounds. Seriously, his character was an after thought, he did nothing to contribute, which is a waste of Taylor. Finally, Erik Palladino has a few scenes as the local sheriff. Gotta love Erik Palladino. I remember in the late 90s when he had long hair and worked as a VJ for MTV, holding it down at the Beach House-- does MTV still do the summer Beach House? Probably not, considering they don't show videos anymore.
It's strictly by coincidence that I'm doing a Kevin Costner flick in this the week after Whitney Houston passed away, but I figured I'd be remiss if I didn't devote a paragraph to her. Costner and her will always be linked for The Bodyguard, which might have been a cheesefest, but it was a cheesefest that grossed over $400 million worldwide, and her song "I Will Always Love You" went platinum four times and spent over a year at number one on the Hot 100 list. I don't think anyone could've thought in 1992 that just twenty years later it would take Houston's tragic and sudden death to bring back to the forefront how immensely successful and how uniquely talented a singer she was. It's a testament to how the entertainment industry works: when you make them money they love you, but the moment you're not, they cut you adrift with the quickness, and no one has anything nice to say about you until you're dead.
On that happy note, let's wrap this bad boy up. This one did nothing for me except instill in me the belief that this entire cast should be brought back to make a family drama, not quite Ozu level, but a notch above Lifetime quality. As a horror film, I've seen this before, and didn't need to see it again.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0951335/