A couple moves to a remote Irish village after the death of their baby daughter. They take in an autistic orphan girl when strange things begin happening around them.
Directed by – Aisling Walsh
Written by – Lauren Mackenzie
Starring – Samantha Morton, Steven Mackintosh, Mhairi Anderson, David Bradley, Eva Birthistle, Brendan McCormack, Zoe Sheridan, Flora Montgomery, Orlaith Macqueen, Ron Donachie, Valerie O’Connor, Patrick Moy, Barry Barnes, Maire Hastings, Gary Murphy, Siobhan O’Kelly, Karen Ardiff, Fionnuala Murphy, Elunid Jones, Joanne Thomas, Hilary Reynolds, Yvonne Scanlon, Fiona Condon, David Keating, Matthew McDonagh
I’m a huge fan of bad kid movies. Something about an evil child always manages to creep me out but I can only think of a handful that I really enjoyed. The Daisy Chain falls somewhere in the middle. I feel like I’ve walked the same ground that this movie covers although I can’t pinpoint where and it never really reaches the level of disturbing that other films manage. That’s not saying that Daisy (Mhairi Anderson) isn’t an evil kid. She puts an end to a few people in the film but it’s usually very suspect and there isn’t any real proof that she did anything at all. Daisy also happens to be autistic so it’s hard to tell if her odd behaviour is because she’s bad or her disability is misunderstood by the superstitious locals.
The story is reminiscent of many bad kid movies. A couple Tomas (Steven Mackintosh) and Martha Conroy (Samantha Morton) move to a very remote Irish village after Martha is unable to cope with the death of her baby daughter. Tomas grew up in the little town and is working as a schoolteacher while Martha is at home waiting to give birth to their son. Martha sees a little girl, Daisy, playing outside one day and introduces herself. Daisy runs off to pester their other neighbour, grumpy old Sean Cryan (David Bradley). He seems almost afraid of Daisy and yells at her to go away, throwing rocks at her as she goes. Daisy lives with her parents and younger brother just across a field from the Conroy’s. As Martha is walking along the beach one day she finds the body of Daisy’s younger brother washed up on shore and within a few days the neighbours are alerted to a fire that has killed Daisy’s parents. Martha seems to be the only person who can handle Daisy so she begins living with them. Suddenly everyone around Daisy is getting hurt or killed and talk in the town is of Daisy being a fairy changeling. Are all the accidents just that or does Daisy hold some mysterious power?
The idea of fairies in Ireland is something that still existed until not too long ago, only really being ignored within the last 100 years. There’s a story of a man who killed his wife for believing she was a fairy in 1895 so I can understand why the idea of a fairy changeling would be put into this story. Just because I understand it doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea. Bad kid movies always kind of end up being the same but the bad kid in this film just happens to be autistic. Mixing the idea of Daisy being a fairy by the small town folks and the fact that she’s autistic makes an interesting but seemingly unfocused picture.
The real problem is that they never confirm any of those ideas. Whether or not she’s a fairy can be left ambiguous and leaving it up to the viewer is a good idea. Daisy’s autism isn’t ever really confirmed though. I don’t recall anyone directly saying that yes, she has autism. By the end of the movie you’re just left with deciding everything yourself. I don’t mind having to come up with my own idea of what is happening but I do enjoy a little bit of closure on things.
The performances are well done and Daisy’s autism is treated quite well actually. It’s not overblown into something that is a massive disturbance but it isn’t brushed away like an offhanded remark. I haven’t dealt with much autism in my life but it’s nice to see that it doesn’t become this huge handicap that seems unrealistic. It’s biggest problem is that Mhairi Anderson’s performance as Daisy just wasn’t creepy enough. It’s a bad kid story, you’ve gotta have a truly creepy and disturbing kid in there somewhere. In the end I was just left thinking ‘Oh, I just watched a movie’ instead of really getting into the story. It was all very middle of the road and doesn’t leave a lasting impression. It could have been much worse but I think it also could have been a lot better.
Under the marquee – Will