Daughter sees a young woman inducted into a bizarre family as their new surrogate daughter.
Directed by Corey Deshon, Daughter stars Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers, Sleepy Hollow), Vivien Ngô (Queen Sugar, Wyrm), Elyse Dinh and Ian Alexander. It had its world premiere at FrightFest in August and will be released on demand and for download in the UK & Ireland from February 20th, and in Australia & New Zealand from February 22nd.
The reason I jumped at the opportunity to give this film a review was obviously that it stars Johnny Rico Casper Van Dien—a legend I’ve loved since my teenage years. I’d probably watch anything he’s in like I do with Willem Dafoe. That’s not to say that every film Van Dien has lent his name to has been a success, and he has lent that name to many films.
Regardless, we’re here to discuss Daughter, where Van Dien stars as Father, an enigmatic figure that seems to be holding a “family” of strangers hostage, claiming to be protecting them from the toxins that are outside. In his attempts to create the perfect ménage, Father is not afraid to replace family members if they don’t fit his perfect ideal—stepping out of line most certainly means the end of the line, as we are taught with the film’s opening scene.
The newest inductee to our family is Vivien Ngô, who plays the role of Daughter. As Daughter tries to navigate the dynamics of the family and survive under Father’s watchful gaze, we are slowly fed parts of a larger mystery that never quite consummates the sum of its parts, leaving the why and what open to interpretation, which is going to frustrate certain audience goers.
Rather than being plot-centric, Daughter instead shines a spotlight—intentional or not—on the conservative family and its values, Christianity, home-schooling, and a lot of things that one would usually conflate with conservatism. It is a critical look at how religion is used to oppress women and suppress creativity and individual thought.
The film’s focuses on how the male-led household dynamic of the ‘traditional’ God-fearing Christian home is more the stuff of nightmares than it is something to be looked back at with admiration and longing. Daughter is a social commentary on how what was once deemed wholesome was actually horrific, and I could not agree more.
The acting is also phenomenal, but you needn’t take my word for it. Aside from being nominated as Best Ensemble Cast in a Feature Film at the Orlando Film Festival 2022, Van Dien walked away—deservingly—with the Best Actor award from FrightFest 2022. It really is a stellar film.
I do need to punctuate this review with a warning though. This is a slow-burn thriller with the horror aspects coming from the nature of the characters rather than anything supernatural. The horror is psychological in nature and will resonate with anyone that has been in a family with extremely conservative views. This is film as a metaphor, not film for fun.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. The trailer and poster art are posted below. Daughter will be available for purchase and download in the UK & Ireland from February 20th, and in Australia & New Zealand from February 22nd.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.