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It’s been a far cry since Casper Van Dien declared revenge on those bug creatures in Starship Troopers for what they did to Buenos Aires, but it’s great to see him on the screen in a different guise as the misguided patriarchal figure in his latest feature Daughter.

Presented as a cult-like, claustrophobic thriller, this directorial debut from Corey Deshon has enough tension built up to fuel the oppression for Van Dien’s Father character to channel the hatred and desire for control that he upholds. And he doesn’t hold back on delivering such a taut and highly strung person; a tirade of manipulation that ripples with devastating effect through the makeshift family dynamic.

With the titular daughter (Viven Ngô) brought into the household to fulfil the requirements of a sister to the precious Brother (Ian Alexander) to play out this misogynistic and outdated answer to salvation. 

Rounding out the quartet is Mother (Elyse Dinh) who also cuts a fine performance of the restrained, and fear driving matriarch, a character who shifts through the motions of obedience, self-protection, and salvation with effortless and minimal motions. Dinh along with Ngô are the pivotal characters in propelling the slowburn of a narrative through to its conclusion and serve as the juxtaposition to Van Dien’s Father. With the seemingly compliant Brother in the mix too, it’s hard to know when or who will break, as like a tightly wound clock, the springs are going to snap and all that tension will come pouring out swift and fast.

The Prognosis:

While some will feel that the pace is too restrained, and that the payoff is all too hasty, in my mind Deshon is able to craft out a painful picture of suppression through the gaze of male-dominated world.
All the performances are subtly executed and deftly supported by a tightly shot sequence of events on 16mm footage thanks to cinematographer Hana Kitasei helps amplify the claustrophobia instilled throughout.
You’re either going to resist the flow or glide along, but one things for sure, Deshon has made a fantastic impression in wielding his vision.

  • Saul Muerte

#Daughter is Available on all major Digital platforms, including Apple iTunes / Google Play in Australia & New Zealand, from February 22nd.