The Irish Orphan

Samantha Morton and Steven Mackintosh in The Daisy Chain (2008)

Having moved on from the death of their first child, Martha (Samantha Morton) and Tomas (Steven Mackintosh) are expecting their second and move to Ireland to where Tomas grew up in order to get away from the chaos of London. It is there they end up taking in Daisy (Mhairi Anderson), an autistic child who is orphaned when a fire kills her parents, until a permanent foster family can be found. But with the locals such as Sean Cryan (David Bradley) warning them about the little girl strange things start to happen as it seems nothing gets in Daisy's way of getting what she wants.

It doesn't take a movie buff to recognize "The Daisy Chain" as it is one of those movies featuring a child who might be behind a series of creepy events. In a way the familiarity of the basic creepy child story is the movie's undoing because unless you have never seen one before you find yourself watching expecting certain things to happen. You expect that when Martha takes Daisy in because her parents have died that she will end up causing difficulties for Martha and Tomas and because of that some of the movie's impact is lost.

Mhairi Anderson in The Daisy Chain (2008)

But the familiarity of the basic idea is not the only issues which "The Daisy Chain" has as it has a strange undefined tone about it. The build up has an incredibly restrained, almost low budget feel about it as we have the slow, unfolding drama as events lead to Martha and Tomas taking in Daisy. But there are the suggestive moments of horror where for example one night the fire at the neighbours with Daisy hiding in a shed making us wonder whether Daisy started it especially after we see an earlier scene. But that scene doesn't have the atmosphere you expect from a horror movie and so it makes it feel weird as if it is incomplete. There are other scenes including ones which suggest that Daisy has some sort of power but there is no sense of creepy horror which comes across.

Unfortunately this undetermined tone has a knock on effect when it comes to the acting with Steven Mackintosh ending up incredibly bland as Tomas and Mhairi Anderson not really delivering the sense of unsettling which this sort of movie needs. Doing better is David Bradley who brings plenty of character to his supporting role and Samantha Morton delivers another strong grounded performance which is what is called for.

What this all boils down to is that "The Daisy Chain" didn't quite do it for me partly because of the familiarity of the concept but also because it doesn't seem to know whether it is a horror movie or not. Still it is entertaining and between Samantha Morton's touching acting and the beautiful Irish back drop it is well worth seeing at least once for fans of either Samantha Morton or creepy children movies in general.

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