Writer Corey Deshon makes a promising directing debut with Daughter from Dark Star Pictures. A young woman is kidnapped and inducted into a bizarre family as their replacement surrogate daughter. The family includes Father (Casper Van Dien), Mother (Elyse Dinh), and Son (Ian Alexander). As they consider her to be one of their intended victims, they have given her the name Daughter (Vivien Ngô).
As Daughter navigates through this twisted dynamic, awful secrets about the past are revealed, leading to even darker implications about the future. The family's behavior is strangely robotic, and they appear to hide something from the woman. As she discovers more about the family, she realizes that the family has an ulterior motive for kidnapping her. She is now fighting to escape the gruesome fate that awaits her.
Daughter has a strong opening in which we follow the heroine as she goes about her daily life. A pickup truck follows a young woman who is running, and she is followed by a pickup truck. Since the two people in the truck are wearing gas masks that cover their faces, you cannot see who's driving the truck. As soon as they catch the runner, they subdue her by forcefully grabbing her. I enjoyed watching the opening credits play throughout the movie; nobody seemed left out.
In a short time, the movie begins to be screened. I recollect this scene, as well as almost every other one that followed it, was shot on 16mm film, and surprisingly it took a long time to shoot. The 16mm film technique allowed for more detail and depth, which made the scene more intense and engaging. The use of film gave the movie a more cinematic feel, making it appear more like a Hollywood blockbuster rather than an independent film.
Kudos to composer David Strother. As a result of his score, the proceedings have a creepy vibe to them. In the same way that Daughter is trapped in the house, Deshon's directing makes the viewer feel as if he is trapped in the same place as she is. Despite its slow pace, the film is highly engaging as the tension builds and the story unfolds beautifully.
The film's small cast gets intense moments, with Casper Van Dien turning in his most impressive performance in years. Daughter may not resonate with all tastes, but I look forward to watching director Corey Deshon grow in the horror genre.
Final Grade: B-
Daughter is in select theaters, on Digital and On Demand on February 10, 2023