It is the promise that has been made by many an overly strict father to their daughter down the years, that he does not wish any harm to come to her, but that her obedience is necessary for the harmony of the family, and for her own protection any deviation will result in punishment, possibly harsh, except that this man is not her father and she is not his daughter though that is the name he calls her and expects her to respond to.
Kidnapped and chained to prevent her escape until it is deemed that she is sufficiently broken to be compliant, Father teaches the lessons from the book and Mother cooks and cleans, while Brother learns eagerly; he has missed his Sister and is glad that she has been returned, but any indication from Daughter that she has accepted her new position is just biding time, studying diligently until she can plan escape.
The house filled with comfortable furniture, the table laid with generous meals, any discussion of the outside world is forbidden and the word of Father is law, Starship Troopers‘ Casper Van Dien towering over the family he has assembled and making every conversation a minefield, accepts no defiance and any questioning of his authority igniting his temper in Daughter, director Corey Deshon’s close-quarters thriller of coercion and indoctrination.
With Mother and Daughter (Elyse Dinh and Vivien Ngô) sharing a common native language, out of earshot they can have whispered conversations but the older woman cautions the newcomer to just accept her position rather than rebel, knowing it to be futile and the fate which befalls those who have become too troublesome, the previous Daughters who failed to meet the required standard, with only Brother (Star Trek Discovery’s Ian Alexander) accepting the domestic arrangements without question.
Naïve or conditioned since birth, told that he is special and will play a role in the battle against the sickness which has rotted the souls of all in the outer world who are not pure, Brother’s gleeful devotion to Father and the family and the inflexible rules their lives demand is complete, unable to see that the Father he loves is the worst kind of man, believing every word of his own personal truth and demanding absolute devotion from his cult.
The novice testing the limits of her captivity but never so far as to provoke punishment, Daughter is awkwardly compelling in its menace but like the characters it falls into a pattern which it struggles to break out of, firmly confined within the narrative walls of the house and unsure how to progress when they are finally breached, Deshon’s script taking the easy route which belies what has gone before by opting for abrupt ambiguity over a more satisfying resolution.
Daughter will be available to own or rent in the UK and Ireland from Monday 20th February via AppleTV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin Media and Google Play