Daddy's Little Girl (2014)
Over the years here at the DW we've seen plenty of brutal rape/revenge films. Some have been brilliant, some have been out right disastrous. They've run the gambit from simple "who done it's" to the more traditional "torture porn" variety. However, Daddy's Little Girl may be the first "young child murder/revenge" film we've ever seen (Last House On the Left had Mari's parents exact revenge on her killers but she was a teenager - the dynamics are a bit different). Certainly films have delved into those waters before, most notably with Jack Ketchams' The Girl Next Door, and while that film explored the child abuse and murder parts of the equation, the revenge factor has, until now, been something that has been left unexplored.
Derek (Michael Thomson) and his ex-wife Stacey just can't seem to get along, especially when it comes to how to handle their six year old daughter Georgia. Derek begs Stacey to fix the window to Gergia's bed room - even offering to to the work himself. Stacey hung up on pride refuses to let Derek in her house, promising to get the window fixed when she "has the money." Meanwhile, Derek and his best mate (it's an Australian film, so I'm going with mate) Colin (Sean Gannon) are having a rough go at trying to make ends meet at their surfboard shop. Things are so bad that they need to dismiss Derek's brother Tommy from gainful employment.
Then one night all hell breaks loose. Derek is awoken by a call from Stacey telling him that Georgia is missing. A search ends in tragedy when little Georgia's body is discovered ravaged on the beach. The police do their best to dig up some leads, bu six months after the murder, there s still nothing that would lead Derek to think they will be finding the killer anytime soon. Derek stumbles across some key information regarding his daughters murder and her murderer and decides to ignore the advice of The Peoples Court and he takes things into his own hands.
Writer/Director Chris Sun is one fucked up dude. The first half of Daddy's Little Girl is a slow film that really tests one's patience. If it wasn't for the outstanding performance of Thomson, the first half of the film would be an abject failure. Luckily, Thomson keeps everything together and interesting enough that we become invested in his search for the killer. A search that is way too short.
Daddy's Little Girls set's itself up as a neat little who done it, only to gloss over the reveal just so it can set up 30 minutes of torture. Here's is where the film ultimately fails. We are invested in Derek, but to what level? Not to the level where his actions over the last half and hour justify our sympathy. The reason a film like Last House On the Left worked is because even though the Mari's parents do some awful things to Krug and Co. as revenge, it's over fairly quickly. It's shocking. If her parents had strapped Krug down and tortured him for half an hour, the torture eventually loses all it's effectiveness. One of the main points of films like Last House or I Spit on Your Grave is the loss of humanity in revenge. But in both those films there is still enough sympathy with the main characters that we cheer for the revenge. That sympathy is non-existant here. The torture part of the film become gratutious at a certain point.
There is a certain part of the horror film audience that will love this film. If you are a big gore hound. This film may be for you - but be forewarned you have to sit through a lot of set up before you get your payoff. The torture in the film is brutal. The effects are, frankly, awesome. If that's your deal definitely check it out.
I'm all for sick shit and pushing boundaries, but for this reviewer it was just a little too much. By the end of the film, when Derek is finally discovered with his victim strapped to his pool table (gives himself up really) he has virtually no sympathy left. There is probably nothing I can think of that could generate more empathy than having your six year old daughter brutally murdered. So imagine how unlikable the main character has to become to make him unsympathetic? Daddy's Little Girl does just that.
Sun tries to layer in some social commentary regarding the lightness of prison sentences and judgements against those who commit crimes against children, but ultimately the message is lost amidst the overdose of brutality. He has a point, but again it's hard to focus on the message when the films protagonist is shoving barbed wire up another mans ass.
Lots of negatives with this film, but Thomson's performance (especially in the first half of the film) is great. The film looks wonderful and even though I usually don;t talk about the way a film sounds, the biggest strength of Daddy's Little Girl is it's sound editing. Great stuff when it comes to the aural part of the film.
Daddy's Little Girl is currently available in various VOD systems. If you are a big gore-o-phile (that's a thing, right?) then you may be into this film.
** stars out of *****
Thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich"
Posted by Josh Syvertsen
Labels: Australian, Chris Sun, Daddy's Little Girl, Horror, I Spit On Your Grave, Last House On the Left, reviews, The Girl Next Door