Daddy Dearest (2015) Horror Short Review

It can take years to develop a real love of horror. Some fans don’t discover their passion for the macabre until they’re well into their 20s or 30s. There are a lucky few of us who have known from a very early age that we love to be scared, disgusted and horrified. But how many of us have taken our love for horror to a new level? What percentage of horror fans have actually gone into the business of creating new, terrifying stories and showing the world their own heart-pounding nightmares? There’s probably a few of you reading this who can insert yourselves into the second category. But how many of you are still in Middle School?


Meet Fiona Fright, one of the youngest filmmakers ever to complete a horror film good enough to tour the horror circuits. At ten years old, this powerhouse wrote, directed and starred in her first horror short called Daddy Dearest, all from an idea she got when she was only five years old. Now at the ripe old age of eleven, Fiona has seen her short, released through Wicked Bird Media, go from the editing room to the festival circuit over the past year, debuting at Worcester, Massachusetts’ Rock and Shock Horror and Music Festival in 2015.


Both Fiona and Daddy Dearest has won more than a few awards, including the Abby Normal Award (Innovation for Rising Filmmakers) at the Portland Horror Film Festival, the Award of Merit – Youngest Director at the Bloody Horror International Film Festival in Ontario, Canada and Best Elementary Student Film at the Sanford International Film Festival, as well as an Outstanding Achievement Award at the Shawna Shea Film Festival in Somerville, MA.

Fiona has also been featured in an article from MoviePilot after some gushing praise from Derek Mears (the actor/stuntman who played Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th remake), who was so impressed by the short that he stopped his own interview during this year’s Rock and Shock to send the reporter over to Fiona’s table.


Don’t let her age fool you – this girl is a serious filmmaker. Daddy Dearest tells the story of Elise – played by Fiona herself – whose father had died in the war before she was born. With her mother (Diana Porter) too depressed to properly care for her daughter, Elise takes matters into her own hands to get the support she so clearly needs.

The short is only 9 and a half minutes long, but Fiona conveys a lot of emotion and depth in that small amount of time. In Daddy Dearest, Fiona proves that she has a strong eye for camera angles and direction. There’s not a wasted second of film. Each scene is needed with none of that annoying filler fluff that many early filmmakers use to lengthen the run of their first few movies.

Both Fiona and Diana Porter were perfect in their roles. Porter played the broken and lonely mother with grace and simple meals, never stooping to scenery chewing to get her emotions across. The desperation of Elise is clear in Fiona’s expressions and mannerisms. You can’t help but want her to succeed in what she’s trying to do. The actor who played her father (Tom Lupien) was a bit over the top, but maybe he was just trying to get the most out of his two lines.


I was also impressed with the gore in Daddy Dearest. What little Elise does with the vegetable peeler made me squirm in my seat, even though the special effects were underwhelming. Because of Stacy Still’s late arrival to the project, she was short on time and wasn’t able to create the most realistic looking effects. Maybe when Daddy Dearest is made into a feature film (come on, people! You know you want to), Stills will remedy that.

Final thoughts:

Daddy Dearest is a tight and satisfying short with an original storyline served on a gory pile of creativity. Don’t dismiss Fiona’s debut film because of her age. If the kid has the tenacity and gumption to create an award winning short at the age of ten, just imagine what she’s going to come up with in the next ten years.


About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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  1. Laurie Livingstone-Irwin, RMT

    Thank you, Tracy for that wonderful review! Fiona’s family is so proud of her and her accomplishments. I would like to add how important support from family and friends is to anyone making a dream come true…especially a child. Fiona’s mother and father have been an invaluable source of support and action for her. Her enthusiasm makes it easy for friends to flock to her aid in her endeavors. She made her first movie (Speak of the Devil) when she was 6 years old with her family and friends doing all of the acting and her uncle Ned filming. Maybe she’ll let you see it someday ?. I give my gratitude to everyone who helped Fiona make her dream come true.

    • You’re so very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂 I loved the short and I think it’s amazing that Fiona is so devoted and knowledgeable of the movie making process. Many kids her age can hardly decide which shirt to wear in the morning, never mind write, plan, gather and create an entire film production! I’m so excited to see what she’ll do in the future. What an amazing young woman! Oh, yes, I would LOVE to see Speak of the Devil! I can only hope!