Reviewbr> "Can't have you nodding off and missing anything" - Derek
Derek is a solo dad who dotes on his six year old daughter Georgia. Lucky he has something in his life as his ex-wife Stacey would appear to really hate him, to the extent that she won't allow Derek to fix the lock on Georgia's window and only allows him to see his daughter on weekends. Adding fuel to the fire Derek's surfboard business he co-owns with best mate Colin is going through rough times with creditors knocking on the door and the tax department breathing down their necks. In fact business is so bad that Derek has to sack his brother Tommy, who isn't the best worker to begin with.
Early one morning Derek gets a call from Stacey, Georgia has gone missing from her room and can't be found. Derek naturally is distraught, but the Police have been called in, and a search of the surrounding suburbs and bush is quickly underway, with no result. Later Derek receives a call telling him that Georgia has been found at the local beach; unfortunately the girl is deceased and appears to have been abducted and murdered by person or persons unknown. Detective Michael Harris is on the case, but with no leads is pessimistic about the chances of discovering the killer(s). By chance Derek discovers who killed Georgia and it's a lot closer to home than he would have thought. Derek has a choice, hand in the evidence he has discovered to Detective Harris or take matters into his own hands. Derek decides on the later and converts his games room into something very dark in preparation for exacting his own brand of vengeance. When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back. Derek is on a dark journey and where it leads him will shock.
You say torture porn and I say gorenography, let's just call the whole thing off. Did someone forget to include Director/Writer Chris Sun on the memo that pointed out torture orientated flicks are commercial bombs Downunder? Sure the movie has won some MUFF (Melbourne Underground Film Festival) awards, but really, those folks will throw an award at anything that is slightly controversial and not likely to be appreciated by the general public. It did win something in Los Vegas, but who really gives a toss to be honest. Strangely I was with this movie, and grooving to Chris Sun's beat, till the final block when the movie becomes nigh on unwatchable due to the torture depicted, which is pretty brutal and only of interest to gorehounds. There were a few paths Sun could have gone down with the flick, he decided on the wrong one as far as I'm concerned.
Sun is across the first block of his movie and delivers something that might be slow moving but which resonants none the less. His opening gambit is actually stunning in implication and composition. Some unknown dude is being secured to a table in the dark, Sun interposes this with quick cuts to Stacey going through labour till she gives birth to Georgia. The implications are that something new is coming into the world. We then follow family movies as the credits role getting to see Georgia grow into a young girl.
During the second block Sun nails the relationship between Derek and his daughter, portraying it as loving even though the family unit has broken up, the Director is setting up his final block. We learn that Stacey really isn't happy with Derek and his business is under pressure, with his Scottish partner making Derek tackle the hard decisions. Everything flows to Georgia's disappearance and subsequent discovery on a beach. Surprisingly Sun is circumspect with what has happened to Georgia, showing admirable constraint on what he can show on screen, pity that didn't extend to the final block of the movie.
It's post discovery of Georgia's body that Daddy's Little Girl is at its finest. Derek goes from grieving father to anger, the second stage of coming to terms with someone's death. He first lashes out at Stacey pointing out on a number of occasions that he offered to fix the window lock but she refused his help, Derek then lashes out at Detective Harris for the apparent lack of Police success in the case. Eventually Derek withdraws from his friends and spends his time lying in bed apparently ignoring the television that is blaring away. With help from Colin and his brother Tommy Derek starts to recover and is on the verge of rejoining the world. It's a stunning piece of cinema, but once again some viewers will wrongly attack the movie for the slow pace through the middle block. The pace is needed, this movie might descend into torture but it's how Derek got there that is important, at its heart Daddy's Little Girl is a psychological journey that Director Sun freaking nails.
It's by accident that Derek discovers who killed Georgia, he finds a diary that not only contains details on Georgia's death but two other victims of someone close to Derek. The pivotal point of the movie is reached as Derek decides not to hand the diary into the Police but to take his own course in administrating punishment. Derek has stared into the abyss of a psychopath's thoughts and eventual the abyss has stared back, to paraphrased Nietzsche. From there madness takes hold and Derek unleashes his internal madman.
The final block of the movie is the weakest as far as I'm concerned. If you enjoy limbs being severed, blow torches, teeth being wrenched out with pliers, and pipes being inserted into arses - and that's not to provide a highway to hell for gerbils, then have at it, I found it pretty hard to watch to be honest. Director Sun may be thinking he's making hard edge horror, what he is doing is pandering to the lowest common denominator, gorenography has no place in horror in all reality. On the bright side of the knife the conclusion of the movie is satisfying in rounding out the character of Derek, two thumbs up there.
Please note I'm not commenting on the use of three real life victims mentioned in the movie to justify the introduction of explicit acts of torture. Better writers than myself have condemned the use of people's pain as fodder in horror movies and I would tend to concur with them if the movie in question isn't telling their story in sympathetic fashion.
Out of words here, as usual, but just wanted to mention the other two paths Sun could have journeyed down with this movie. Firstly a great movie could have evolved if Georgia's killer was never discovered, we were on an exceptionally good psychology voyage up to that point, the introduction of Georgia's ghost, all in Derek's head, was a sensationally development. The second option would have been to actually have Georgia's ghost haunting Derek, and then leaving it up to the viewer to decide if the ghost is real or not. Food for thought only, the movie clearly didn't go with either option.
Inside Daddy's Little Girl is a great movie, unfortunately that movie got high jacked by Director/Writer Chris Sun pandering to the lowest common denominator. Really gorenography, what in hell possessed Sun to go down that path. I enjoyed the first and second blocks of the movie, okay some of the extras are pretty amateur hour but the movie hangs together in solid fashion, the final block of the movie while intense and all simply leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Sorry not recommending this movie, gorenography is a simplistic smash the audience over the head tactic, but I will check out what else Chris Sun has done or is working on. The guy is an exceptionally good director and writer, pity he doesn't get what the real horror is given the evidence displayed in this movie.