The Daisy Chain (2008) Movie Review
October 24, 2011 1 Comment
THE DAISY CHAIN (2008) is a slow-moving and creepy little tale about one very odd little Irish girl. Daisy might be either an undiagnosed autistic or a severely emotionally disturbed child, but she is also suspected of being a malevolent fairy changeling by the neighbors who shun and fear her, and for seemingly good reasons.
SPOILERS FOLLOW…LEAVE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!
After the SIDS death of their first child, Tomas (Steven Mackintosh) and his pregnant wife Martha (a genuinely preggers Samantha Morton) move from London to the house they’ve inherited in a remote Irish village. Martha soon meets a strange and almost mute neighbor girl named Daisy (Mhairi Anderson), who seems to be feared by the other villagers. When Daisy’s younger brother is drowned and her parents themselves die soon afterward in a terrible house fire, Martha and Tomas take the disturbed 8-year-old orphan to live with them until a new home can be found for her.
Uncommunicative and obviously troubled by the violent death of her parents, Daisy gradually warms up to Martha and to her new surroundings, but soon a string of really odd circumstances begins. The health services social worker who comes to assess the child’s situation is violently rebuffed by Daisy, and then found dead in a car crash. A play date at the community pool with Daisy results in another little girl almost drowning. When their elderly neighbor is spat upon by Daisy, his face becomes disfigured, although whether this occurs because of her virulent spit or his own violent and fearful scrubbing of his cheek is debatable. Each of these occurrences seem to happen immediately following some eerie behavior by the child, and people start whispering none too quietly that Daisy is a “changeling”, the evil offspring of a fairy or other legendary creaturethat has been secretly left in the place of a human child.
Martha immediately discounts all the fairy talk as superstitious nonsense, but because of all of the accidents actually being somehow linked to Daisy, Tomas seems more discomposed by the rumors than dismissive. When Daisy later surreptitiously slips away from their car and into their friend’s hospital room, and picks up the woman’s newborn baby without permission, Tomas becomes even more disturbed.
Daisy is now being shunned by the other children at school, while Martha has become somewhat obsessed by her and Tomas begins to reveal his own secret doubts about the child to his wife. He insists to Martha that, for the sake of their unborn son, Daisy must leave.
After Daisy’s behavior frightens three local children into nearly falling off the edge of some cliffs, the other parents start keeping their kids home from school, insisting that she be removed. When the children who had been with Daisy on the cliffs earlier all fall victim to meningitis, while Daisy herself remains healthy, the superstitious locals become increasingly scared of her.
Their elderly neighbor with the now-scarred cheek has become crazed by fear of Daisy whom he truly believes is a changeling. The old man sets a trap for her, luring her away from home and then attempting to burn her alive, but Tomas, who had discovered the child missing and gone to look for her, comes to her rescue just in the nick of time. The old man accidentally sets himself on fire instead and is killed. That night a shaken Tomas discusses other housing options for child with the local constable, who reveals that her mother admitted that Daisy tried to smother her little brother when he was a baby, and he believes that she is responsible for the child’s later drowning death. Against Martha’s wishes, it is decided to call social services and have Daisy taken away the next day. While Daisy is in bed her bag is packed for her.
Tomas goes into the outbuilding to finish working on a cradle for the new baby, and a troubled Martha sees that Daisy is not asleep after all. While attempting to give the little girl her bath, Martha, who has by now become herself suspicious, tries to get Daisy to admit to killing her little brother and trying to drown the other little girl. However Daisy responds to the questioning only by parroting back her own words, and starts kissing Martha and hugging her very tightly. In an attempt to break free of Daisy’s tenacious grasp which she fears is hurting her baby, Martha slips against the wet tub, falls, and starts hemorrhaging.
On returning to the house with the finished cradle later, Tomas is shocked to discover the bloody and now dead body of his wife on the bathroom floor and starts shouting with grief. Believing that Daisy must be the cause of Martha’s death, he searches frantically for the girl in a wild panic, and to his horror discovers that sometime after the accident his baby son was apparently delivered by Daisy, who has placed the living newborn into the newly finished cradle and is singing to him. Tomas picks up his baby and backs slowly and somewhat fearfully away from Daisy, while she continues to sing, “Rock a Bye, Baby” to a doll instead, and look emotionless and creepily into the camera.
Little Mhairi Anderson in her first film does a marvelous job portraying the “is she or isn’t she?” aspect of Daisy’s personality, and filming her widely spaced eyes in closeup gives her a slightly unearthly quality, adding an extra excellent creepiness factor to the movie. The wild landscape of the Western Irish coast presents a beautiful and haunting backdrop to this tale of parental love and loss, and you are left at the end with the unanswered question of whether or not all the tragic happenings are due to pure coincidence, Daisy’s possible psychological problems, or actual supernatural forces. I liked the slight twist at the end where it could be argued that Daisy chose daddy Tomas who had saved her life instead of mommy Martha who obviously loved her much more. But from the fearful look on his face I doubt that Tomas could be counted on for further support after that final fateful night!
This is my second movie reviewed for the Halloween Horror Flick Project challenge on Facebook.