Equal parts Saw, Texas Chainsaw re-up, and various other early 2000s horror remakes, Daddy’s Girl is the story of a teenage girl trapped with her murderous, psychotic stepfather, after her mother commits suicide.
Costas Mandylor (who is actually in quite a few of the Saw films…) plays the the ex-marine boogie man with a considerable dungeon in his shed, alongside Jemma Dallender as Zoe, his long suffering and captive stepdaughter.
Heading out to bars and using Zoe to lull lost teenage girls into a false sense of security, they then proceed to lure them home for Dad to have his wicked way. Slowly Zoe starts to grow a conscience and despite engaging in more than just regular family relations with John, she sneaks down to the dungeon behind his back to offer girls the opportunity to take their own lives, rather than deal with being electrocuted and dissected by him until he’s had enough and chainsaws them up for chum.
Enter rookie cop Deputy Wallace (Jesse Stone) who starts putting the pieces together, tracing the missing girls back to John, and clocking Zoe as the daughter of her sad, dead mother, despite a name change and a re-location. Next comes Jennifer (Britt McKillip), the sassy barmaid John locks his sights on after one of their nights out to collect a girl. Zoe tries gently to warn her, but Jennifer is the sort of girl who takes orders from no one, which ends her up chained to John’s electric table.
As Zoe grows increasing sick of her stepfather and his antics, she contemplates putting an end to all of it; him, herself, and the killing, and when he finally crosses the line (Jennifer), things come to an ugly head.
If you enjoy films like Hostel etc., this doesn’t actually hold too much of a candle to their extremity in the context of the torture-porn genre. There isn’t much but threat past the point of some light electrocution, despite the horrible sex dungeon being filled with what looks like wartime medical equipment which would definitely fail a health and safety check.
The relationship between Zoe and John is blurry at the best of times, presumably to suggest some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, but the interactions are not so much complicated as just plain confusing. Zoe seems to enjoy helping him snag the girls, and there’s no real explanation as to why she takes a liking to Jennifer enough to try and half-heartedly warn her off. The problem with all of this is that the no deeper explanation of any of the relationships is offered. This sort of rushed feeling might be acceptable if the gained time were geared toward a closer look at John’s warped psyche, or his torture of the girls they nab, but it sort of just…isn’t. Without spoiling it for you, the final BIG TWIST in the film is offered up as almost a post-credits scene that feels tacked on last minute, could quite easily have not made it in.
I wanted to like this because I love it when low budget gems sneak through, but if you don’t want to give your characters too much depth, you should at least gore-torture the supporting cast to the point of turning viewer stomachs, right? Sophie Francois