Daughter

February 10, 202360/1005 min
Starring
Casper Van Dien, Elyse Dinh, Vivien Ngõ, Ian Alexander
Written by
Corey Deshon
Directed by
Corey Deshon
Run Time
1h 35min
Release Date
February 10th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

I remember on road trips when I was younger my family and I would drive though areas that were desolate and seemed void of life. I would think what it must be like to live in such a place, no neighbors as far as the eye can see, and would think who would live in such a place? Corey Deshon’s feature debut gives me an idea, as he tells a story of a family that is not like yours and mine.

             In the middle of nowhere, what appears to be California, we are introduced to Father (Casper Van Dien) in a way that is not very endearing. He is seen chasing a woman and appearing again with a young boy with blood covering his shirt. We soon see how that blood got there as Father takes a hammer and kills the mystery woman, all while scolding the boy, telling him it’s his fault he had to do that. Later we find ourself in a garage, where Father is taking to a young girl, telling her that if she just behaves for a few years, she will be let free. Trust though has to be earned, so Father chains her to the ground and tells her she will now be known as Sister (Vivien Ngõ). Soon she is also introduced to Mother (Elyse Dinh), who when not playing along tries to convince Sister to just go along with it and everything will be fine. As some time passes, she is finally introduced to Brother  Ian Alexander), who has been told he can’t leave the house, as the air outside is toxic. If you guessed this isn’t a normal family, I would call you pretty observant, as this situation is as far from normal as you can get.

Deshon delivers a film with a lot of little mysteries and nuances and a narrative that is a psychological labyrinth. Daughter can at times feel like a film with a light touch, as dialogue is sparse and we are left to dwell in silences and soak in it. That silence only ratchets up the tension and adds a level of discomfort for the audience as Deshon leans on this so much that silence almost becomes the fifth character. Adding to the feel of the film is the choice by Deshon and cinematographer Hana Kitasei to give you the sense that you are watching a VHS tape, with tracking lines and low picture quality.

              Daughter can at times be mesmerizing and is an excellent debut feature. The cast is fantastic, as they really add to the ever-present tone of dread and sense of trepidation. The two stand-outs in the cast are Van Dien as the patriarch of the household and Alexander, who keeps Brother on the right side of strange. Daughter can be complex and is incredibly played and  planed out and will make you a fan of Deshon instantly.

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