The world of micro-budget horror can be a fun, scary place. I’ve been lucky enough to review a few gems along the way, but the majority of these releases cannot overcome their almost non-existent budget. Slaughter Daughter, from director Travis Campbell, falls somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum. While Campbell and company use their small budget well (which is amazing to see that they filmed this for around $15,000 only, according to IMDB), but the story is a bit lacking.
Slaughter Daughter tells Farrah’s (Nicola Fiore) sad, twisted tale of love, loss, and psychosis. The story opens with a prelude of sorts, as we find out that Farrah has been left at the altar by her fiancée on her wedding day. Farrah freaks out, and then we jump ahead two years. By now most people would have moved on with their lives, but Farrah is in a state of depression, spending most of her time locked away in her room. In the meantime, she has become obsessed with a local serial killer – Jackson Miles (Tim Dax) – and she in intent on meeting him. One night, she decides to cut off her pinkie and mail it to Jackson Miles, along with a note, letting him know she wants to meet him. Her family drives her mental state further from reality, which won’t be good for them once she finally snaps.
The major problem with Slaughter Daughter is that it just moves along too slowly. It takes nearly 50 minutes to get to the first kill, and the story is a bit convoluted up to that point. For a 77-minute movie, 50 minutes is a long wait to get to the “good stuff”. The director does a lot to try and show Farrah’s mental degradation, but in a short, low-budget horror film like this, I want to see more action driving the plot forward. This is great development for the main character, but if the story surrounding her isn’t interesting enough, it drags the pace down, which is what happens here.
The majority of the cast is refreshingly solid. Nicola Fiore is wonderful as Farrah. She plays this strange woman incredibly well. She never plays the role with a wink to the audience, and keeps it entirely real the whole time. Now in some films, this would be a negative comment, but in Slaughter Daughter, it is exactly what the role requires. Fiore is sexy, seductive, and violent, all things that make Farrah who she is. Travis Campbell uses his Troma Entertainment connections to his advantage, and gets Lloyd Kaufman to play a cameo role in Slaughter Daughter, which is cool to see. Ruby Larocca is also in the film, and she is a very popular name in the micro-budget horror/softcore porn scene.
One of the more interesting supporting roles in the film is that of Tim Dax, who plays serial killer Jackson Miles. Dax has a tattoo on his head that resembles a gladiator’s helmet. You really need to see it to fully appreciate it. This look is excellent for this character, and he does a good job acting as Farrah’s inner demon of sorts. I’d be interested to see Dax is another role to see if the facial tattoo helps or hurts his characters. Here, though, it works
Slaughter Daughter has some weird, incestuous vibes running through it. Little is ever really said of it openly, but Farrah clearly has a thing for her brother, and the matriarch might be in love with her dead husband’s sister, but the script isn’t really clear on who exactly Reema is. She has some sort of accent, though, which tells me that she isn’t from the same area as the rest of the family. This theme of incest is one that could have been played on more heavily throughout the film to help drive Farrah’s character to the brink. As it stands, though, I’m left confused as to what the filmmakers were trying to go for.
Slaughter Daughter has a major flaw – pacing – but it has some positives as well. The acting is good (excepting the mother, who stands out in an otherwise solid cast), the practical effects are appreciated, and the score is fantastic, filled with some homage’s to classic horror scores that horror fanatics are sure to recognize. The film is much better than the webisodes that preceded the movie would suggest, and when it picks up, it is an interesting movie. Unfortunately it takes almost 45-minutes of the 77-minute runtime to finally get rolling. If the action would have started sooner, I wouldn’t be so lukewarm on Slaughter Daughter. Independent horror fans will get a kick out of Slaughter Daughter if they can watch it for the right price. Those that can’t get into low-budget films, though, will want to stay away.
Slaughter Daughter is presented in 16×9 widescreen. The DVD image quality is perfectly fine, with a small amount of grain that seems intentional. On the audio side, there is a 2.0 stereo option, and nothing else. There are no subtitles. The dialogue is never lost to the music, which is important to point out in the world of micro-budget releases.
There are a fair amount of extras on this release. The first is Bloopers & Outtakes (3:00), which is exactly what it sounds like. You don’t see these too often on horror releases, and though it doesn’t add anything to the film, it’s always fun to see the cast out of character. Next up is a Promo Video (1:35) that is basically a short teaser trailer for the film. If I hadn’t seen the movie before watching this, I’d definitely want to check it out. It is done with a grindhouse/exploitation feel, which is cool. Then there are two deleted scenes (2:07). Nothing new is shown here, and it is clear that the director cut these to add a bit of a twist to the final product.
The biggest special feature here are the eight webisodes that the director released (presumably on YouTube) about a year before the film was completed. All eight are two minutes or less in length (totaling around 15 minutes for all eight), and it covers Farrah’s time at the mental institute. It also adds some more background information for her character, but they are shot in a static style that makes them a little boring, to be frank. Also, I believe the director, Travis Campbell is playing Farrah’s doctor in these, and his delivery is stiff and unbelievable. Nicola Fiore is good, as one might expect, but I would have loved to see the doctor played by a different actor. These are a cool idea to get audiences interested in the film, but they don’t turn out as well as they could have. Still, these are a nice addition to the DVD.
Slaughter Daughter is a budget horror film for budget horror fans. There is definitely an audience for this, and it does a lot of things right. The big problem is that it feels like this same story could have been told – and maybe more effectively – in a 30-minute short film instead of a 77-minute feature length movie. The biggest surprise is how solid the acting is, specifically from Nicola Fiore, who plays the titular daughter. She is so good that her name alone will now force me to check out a movie I’d otherwise ignore. Director Travis Campbell definitely has a work to be proud of, and though this Troma-inspired horror flick won’t make any new fans of this subgenre, it should please those looking for their next micro-budget fix.
This DVD was released by Brain Damage Films on February 4, 2014. Slaughter Daughter (2012) was directed by Travis Campbell, and written by Lauren Miller. The film is 77 minutes in length, and is not rated.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.