★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Corey Deshon
This claustrophobic chiller provides viewers with plenty of meat to mull over while delivering a nerve-wracking battle of wills between a kidnapper who heads up a twisted family unit and his victim.
If you think seeing one genre film about an unbalanced antagonist keeping someone prisoner, family or otherwise, — because of a supposed apocalyptic or postapocalyptic event outside the home — and there have been plenty lately — means that you have seen them all, you would be sorely mistaken in the case of writer/director Corey Deshon’s Daughter (2023). This outing combines mystery, drama, and horror elements and delivers a compelling story with a shocker of a climax.
Father (Casper Van Dien) and his son Brother (Ian Alexander) are shown in the opening sequence wearing transparent helmets and chasing down a woman, who Father kills. Father replaces her in his bizarre family unit by kidnapping a young woman (Vivien Ngô) who he names Daughter, telling her that she can leave in two years but needs to be a part of their family and a good sister to Brother until then. Mother (Elyse Dinh) tries to help Daughter adjust, but the young woman tests her limits, which is not a wise idea considering that Father has a strict set of rules and a concise world view that must be adhered to or punishment up to death may be dealt out.
Van Dien does a fantastic job as a man who will allow no one to interfere with his strict regime. Father keeps his cruel, evil side seething just under the surface, ready to strike like a coiled snake at the slightest sign of what he considers straying from his rules. Ngôplays his foil wonderfully as daughter learns to keep her defiance similarly hidden while subtly educating Brother about greater realities outside the house. Alexander gives an engaging performance as a boy who has only known the sheltered claustrophobia of his family abode, a naif regarding the world outside which he has been taught will kill him because of posionous air. Dinh brings strong support as a woman trying to keep the artifice of this family life together as best she can.
Deshon keeps the suspense going mesmerizingly as he brings up social and moral issues, giving viewers plenty to chew on regarding male dominance in society, racial privilege, and more while being captivated by the film’s thriller elements. Daughter is a highly recommended film that is certain to grasp viewers’ full attention.
Review by Joseph Perry
Dark Star Pictures will release Daughter in select theaters, on Digital, and On Demand on February 10, 2023. It will be released on DVD on May 9, 2023.
Lightbulb Film Distribution will release Daughter On Demand and Download in the U.K. and Ireland from February 20, and in Australia and New Zealand from February 22, 2023.
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