GORE IN THE STORE
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DADDY’S GIRL **
Directed by Julian Richards. Starring Costas Mandylor, Jemma Dallender, Jesse Moss, Britt McKillip. USA 2018 80 mins Certificate: 18
Premiering at Raindance Film Festival in London on October 1st 2018
In a sparse time for home grown horror, Julian Richards was the director who brought us the Port Talbot-set DARKLANDS (2006), an Ecstasy-era variation on THE WICKER MAN featuring a Daily Mail-esque portrayal of modern day druids and a 1970’s-style downbeat finale in which sweary Craig Fairbrass is sacrificed by a red-robed Jon Finch. Although Richards’ subsequent work includes the interesting SUMMER SCARS, he is rightly best known for shepherding the best ever serial killer video diary movie, THE LAST HORROR MOVIE (2003). Few movies before or since used the verité maniac format with such a confident blend of disturbing horror and gallows wit.
Here, Richards is in all too familiar torture-dungeon territory and, just in case you were not feeling the sense of deja-vu, it casts Jemma Dallender (a victim and avenger in I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE 2) as a long suffering victim of incest and Costas Mandylor (Jigsaw’s main henchman from SAW IV onwards) as the abusive step-dad who gets off on electrocuting bound women. Since the suicide of her mother, Dallender has been regularly violated by Mandylor’s messed-up ex-marine and assists him in luring young women back to their house, in which she has been a prisoner for many years. He has an in-built torture chamber and attempts to educate Dallender in the ways of chainsaw dismemberment and other victim disposal methods. Meanwhile, uninvolving B stories involve Deputy Jesse Moss’ investigations (and occasional emotional monologues) and bartender Britt McKillip.
Mandylor is a capable actor and an intimidating on-screen presence, but here is afforded a bunch of particularly trite villain lines (“Welcome to Hell!” / “Having fun now?”) and contrived misogynist rants about why his actions in “thinning the herd” (by targeting “skanky bitches” to save the world from “vermin”) are so essential. His recurring hate speech is occasionally used as a launching pad for failed attempts at light relief, as with:- “I’m doing the world a service, I should get paid for what I do.” “You’d be lucky to get minimum wage, asshole”.
Dallender’s characteristically committed performance helps sell the evolution of her character, but the film is dreary and plodding, and has neither shock value nor intensity despite recurring scenes of Mandylor tormenting bound young women and having sex with his step-daughter. The last few minutes establish a more interesting turn into 1970’s-exploitation-style vigilante-squad territory, though it’s too little, too late – having followed the kind of underwhelming climax in which the Deputy steps into an animal trap just to add some extra drama. DADDY’S GIRL – which boasts “additional writing by Sean Hogan” – is technically proficient and decently acted, but is an unwarranted return to a well that felt dated and tedious by 2006. As for commercial prospects, it’s probably not the greatest time to unleash a movie in which a succession of attractive women are abused in captivity by a guy who shags his step-daughter.
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