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Film / The New Daughter

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The New Daughter is a 2009 horror film based on a short story by John Connolly.

John James (Kevin Costner), a recently divorced author, moves to South Carolina to give himself and his two children, Louisa (Ivana Baquero) and Sam (Gattlin Griffith), a fresh start.

However, when Louisa discovers a strange mound, she begins changing. Although her father and other adults initially brush it off as the beginnings of adolescence, the truth gradually reveals itself as far more sinister. Soon John will find himself in a fight for his family against an ancient force that will do anything to get what it wants.

This film includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the short story of the same name, the story ends with the changeling Louisa taunting "her" father that sooner or later he'll slip up and allow the mound's residents to replace "her" brother as well. The movie closes on John burning the mound and the mound-walkers creeping up on Sam.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sam calls his older sister "Lou".
  • Arc Symbol: Ants, which are creeping mound-dwellers like the story's antagonists. Sam gets an ant farm from school and tells his dad what he learned about them, namely that there's only one female ant and the hive can't last without her. This turns out to explain the reason the mound-walkers want Louisa.
  • Blatant Lies: Talking to his agent over the phone, John says that he's progressing nicely on his latest novel, but the screen shows that he hasn't even written the entire phrase "chapter one."
  • Bolivian Army Ending: John burns the mound. However, more mound-walkers were out prowling. The last shot before the film cuts to black shows them creeping up on Sam. According to the creator, he purposely left it ambiguous as to whether the heroes survive, but the odds don't look very favorable. Even if they do, John has lost a woman he was beginning to have feelings for and will have to live with the fact that he was forced to kill Louisa as well as having to explain to Sam why his big sister isn't with them anymore.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Louisa, on the eve of her transformation into a Creepy Child, is shown in this position in the bathtub, covered in mud from having spent the day digging around in the mound.
  • He Was Right There All Along: In one scene before trouble has started in earnest, Louisa hears a noise in the night. She shuts her window...and a mound walker that had been sitting right beside it moves.
  • Ironic Echo: The night after Louisa becomes ill and John has to pick her up from school, she asks if he's going to leave her like her mother did. John answers that he never will. At the end, as Louisa begins to change into one of the mound-walkers, she begs her father not to leave her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts to the other side of the door just before the mound-walkers reach Mrs. Amsworth. The viewer (and Sam) hear her screaming, but don't see what's happening.
  • Offing the Offspring: Mrs. Wayne, whose daughter the mound dwellers also targeted, left "Emily" locked in her room, unable to kill the creature that was her daughter outright. Her father, Roger, does it instead. In the end, John is forced to burn Louisa along with the mound after she begins to transform into a moundwalker.
  • Papa Wolf: John is clearly protective of both his children, to the point that he sets out to take on the mound walkers alone to get Louisa back from them.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: John tells Sam he loves him very much before he goes to rescue Louisa and burn the mound. He follows it up with several, equally platonic, kisses to the face.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Roger Wayne, the father of the local woman who abandoned her daughter, keeps a room full of newspaper clippings related to the case. He catches John as he looks around.
  • "Silly Me" Gesture: John hits himself in the head a few times when Sam has to remind him to leave the door to his room open a crack, a self-deprecating gesture against his failure as a parent.
  • Sound-Only Death: The killing of the babysitter is heard through a closed door, complete with her agonized screams, sobs, and pleas for her life accompanied/followed by some meaty smacking/chomping sounds.
  • Spiders Are Scary: A spider pops out of a container hidden in the straw doll Louisa gets from the mound-walkers. Later, after John places the doll in a kitchen drawer, he opens it and gets a Jump Scare when he finds it inhabited by a nest of spiders.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Louisa starts to retch during one of the fights she has with her father, and the viewer unfortunately gets to see her hack up yellowish vomit onto the floor.