Winner of the Grand Jury Prize, affectionately known as the Biggest Baddest Mother of the PollyGrind, at the PollyGrind Underground Film Festival of Las Vegas, writer/director Chris Sun's Daddy's Little Girl is everything you kinda sorta wish the Hugh Jackman led Prisoners would have been.
In other words, it's a relentlessly ballsy and unforgettably brutal revenge pic that follows one man, Derek (Michael Thomson), whose daughter Georgia (Billi Baker) is brutally raped and murdered one night while staying overnight at her mother's. While he at first lays his rage and his blame at the mother's feet, not because she committed the crime but because of the broken window through which the perpetrator obviously gained access to the home, Derek soon learns that the truth is even more terrifying.
If one to possibly weave together the original I Spit On Your Grave with the emotional gravitas of the aforementioned Prisoners, then you might be able to get a sense of Daddy's Little Girl. It's the kind of film that leaves you on more than one occasion watching the screen and going "Did they really do that?"
Yep, they did.
After stumbling into a diary of sorts that appears to reveal not just the killer of his own daughter but a serial criminal whose identity likely won't be much of a surprise a few minutes into the film, Derek sets out to prepare himself and his basement for a week of brutal tactics that will make his daughter's murderer feel the pain that he has inflicted upon so many others.
"Stranger Danger" is incredibly real and taught in schools throughout the world. Sometimes, it's those closest to you who are truly the most dangerous.
After a successful festival run, Daddy's Little Girl hits the street on May 13th with Vicious Circle Films, the horror arm of Philly-based Breaking Glass Pictures. The film features a heartwrenching performance by Thomson, whose grief is piercing and whose relentless revenge somehow never leaves the realm of sympathetic even as he clearly crosses a line and keeps on going.
While not a particularly flawless film, Daddy's Little Girl is the revenge film that other revenge films wish they could be. If you've ever lost a child to an act of violence, and I openly confess that I have, it's nearly impossible to watch the film without feeling like you're more than living vicariously through the person of Derek. While Chris Sun might take a little too long building the framework for the film, it's refreshing that in such a graphic and intense film you've actually been given enough story and emotion to care about the film's key players. It's truly a wise move that keeps Daddy's Little Girl from being just another exploitation flick, though the intensity with which the revenge builds does threaten to cross that line and, for some folks, likely will cross that line.
In addition to Thomson's top notch performance, Allira Jaques is convincing as the bereaved mother and Christian Radford is uncomfortably effective as Tommy. The young Billi Baker leaves a lasting impression that makes her loss even more palpable.
Mark Smythe's original music is appropriately mood setting for this relatively low-budget Aussie flick, while Scott Kimber's lensing is both unflinchingly graphic and emotionally resonant. Daddy's Little Girl certainly isn't for everyone, especially for those who considered Prisoners too graphic, but for those seeking a horror experience that is both emotionally riveting and absolutely terrifying it's difficult too imagine you'll find a much better experience.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic