What’s up, everyone? Marissa here, bringing you the best of off the beaten path and independent horror. Today, I’m going back to the indie well, where we usually find the most innovative, gruesome, and thematically relevant horror out there. And today’s pick is no exception. Daughters of Virtue is an amazing short film that will undoubtedly be tearing up the film festival circuits as word of this film gets out.
Written and directed by horror up and comer Michael Escobedo, The movie boasts a grainy, 1970’s Hammer horror feel, which heightens the icky feeling we carry throughout. Daughters is character driven, and stars Sylvia Panacione and the scene-stealing, nightmare-inducing Maria Olsen. It is rare for characters to be cleverly well-developed in such a short amount of time. The plot focuses on the mother of all mom’s group: the Daughters of Virtue. This club is what you would get if Carrie’s mother from Stephen King’s novel put out a want ad for devoutly Christian, severely unhinged stay at home mothers, and actually got some responses. And this group has it all: afternoon tea, finger foods, girl talk, blood, murder, and violent religious devotion. Saying too much more than that would spoil the fun. And this film is lots of fun.
Aesthetically, this piece delivers, creating an uneasiness that stays with you well after the credits roll. The setting and costume design place this film literally in any time frame from 1970 through today. Which in and of itself says a mouthful. The FX are impressive and fans of psychological horror will enjoy the twists and turns the film takes.
Also, this is that rare horror flick that gets better with multiple viewings. There is so much to unpack, with symbols and ideas subtly explored throughout the film. It deals with everything from religious extremism to the complications our personal demons create. It skillfully plays on the savagery and real-life horror that can so often accompany group relationships. I am incredibly impressed with Escobedo’s ability to grasp and play out female psyche in such interesting ways. So much of this movie relies on the protagonist’s relatability as she struggles with her life’s choices and role of wife and mother. It will put you face to face with your demons, both inside and out, and remind you that we are, so often, our own worst enemies.
This film gets the JG seal of approval. If you are out and about on the horror festival circuit this year, be sure to add Daughters of Virtue to your “MUST” list.