Daughter in Disguise (Sinister Switch) (2021) Movie Review – Made For TV Thriller Fun

Horror, Thriller, Drama | 86 Min
Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review
  • Director: Christopher Redmond
  • Actors: Emily Alatalo, Steve Belford, Natalie Jane, Nicole Volossetski, Jas Dhanda
  • Writers: Ryan Cavan, Christopher Redmond, Jared Young
  • Producers: Alexandra Waring
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Mild Peril, Language
  • Horror, Thriller, Drama | 86 Min

Daughter in Disguise follows the story of parents Kristen and Justin. As they are finally reunited with their daughter who went missing 6 years ago. Delighted to have Olivia back. Kristen and Justin begin the long process of adapting to life as parents of a teenage girl. Despite their joy at having Olivia home with them. They can't help but notice that something seems different about her. Could it be simple changes from the time they spent apart or is there a more sinister explanation? 

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another horror movie review. Before I get started, I need to ask a quick question. Has anybody else fired up Prime Video and flicked through their movies, only to stumble across a horror/thriller called Daughter in Disguise from 2023? Because I know I did.

Imagine my surprise when I come to find out that it is titled Sinister Switch everywhere else and actually came out in 2021. I feel as though Prime Video does this a lot. Throwing movies into their library and changing the dates around a bit. Anyways, today we will be reviewing Daughter in Disguise, or, as it is more commonly known, Sinister Switch, from 2021.

I guess this might be one of those weird naming quirks we seem to have here in the UK. I’m not really sure and it doesn’t help that its working title was “Not My Child”. With all of that being said, if you found your way to this review. You probably saw the movie on Prime and wanted to know what it was like. Let’s take a look.

Missing Child Drama

Daughter in Disguise follows the story of parents, Kristen and Justin. As they are finally reunited with their daughter who went missing 6 years ago. Delighted to have Olivia back. Kristen and Justin begin the long process of adapting to life as parents of a teenage girl. Despite their joy at having Olivia home with them. They can’t help but notice that something seems different about her. Could it be simple changes from the time they spent apart or is there a more sinister explanation? 

Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review

The bulk of the story here follows Kristen and Justin as they relearn how to be parents. Kristen feels, almost, awkward while attempting to relate to Olivia while Justin is instantly suspicious. Olivia seems different and is acting rather strange. Her memories of her childhood seem vague and she is distant.

Conflicting Opinions

While Kristen puts these complications down to the process of re-acclimating after years of living with her kidnapper and being away from home. Olivia’s reluctance in helping the police to find the location of her kidnapper. Along with the four girls who are still being held captive with him. And her refusal to talk about what happened arouse suspicion in both the police and the family. Justin wants to get to the bottom of the problem but Kristen desperately doesn’t want to lose her daughter all over again.

Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review

I suppose the best way to describe Daughter in Disguise is as a Wednesday afternoon, daytime television movie version of Orphan but with a rather significant twist. It’s like if you took the blood and gore from Orphan and replaced it with a mid-afternoon mimosa and a 40 minute nap that you describe to everyone around you as you “resting your eyes”.

Interesting but Very Slow Moving

There is a fairly deep dive here into the natural feelings and emotions surrounding the return of a missing child. Daughter in Disguise does a good job of relating some of the insecurities and guilt that a parent would have when confronted with this scenario. And also goes into some degree of detail on how a child in this situation may feel. Returning to a household and family that is very different from the one they were taken away from years before. 

It all feels pretty well done and fairly authentic. With Kristen’s difficulties and awkwardness with Olivia being particularly well done. And the way their relationship begins to develop coming across as pretty organic. It’s interesting stuff but, suffice to say, much of the earlier stages of the movie are extremely slow moving.

Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review

It is packed with familial drama and teen angst that hampers the pacing of the movie somewhat. It’s difficult to not wonder when things are going to start getting moving. The movie is very content to play out like a Lifetime drama movie for much of its length. Meaning when the plot really begins to open up. It can all feel a bit rushed, a bit forced and slightly underdeveloped. It doesn’t help that it is entirely predictable, as well. Almost never managing to surprise the viewer and projecting its plot points way in advance.

Far More of a Drama Heavy Thriller

Daughter in Disguise is, really, far more of a thriller than a horror. It appears in Prime’s horror section and comes up recommended as a horror movie. But there isn’t a tremendous amount in the way of scares. That’s not to say that the movie won’t appeal to horror fans, though. There is a lot of cross over between thrillers and horrors. There is some decent tension towards the end of the movie. And there are a few moments, during the middle, that hint at some possible suspense.

I can’t shake the feeling, however, that the movie just didn’t know what it wanted to be. It gets very tied up in its drama elements and forgets that it is supposed to be suspenseful. Something which will likely lead some people to feel like the movie is poorly targeted. It’s something of a shame because the reality of Daughter in Disguise is an all too real one. The events portrayed in this movie have happened in real life. Making it feel like a lot of thriller meat was left on the bone here. Movies like Orphan manage to extract a ton of scares out of a similar formula. But this is a movie that doesn’t do things in the same way. The drama element comes before everything. It’s a bit underwhelming to be honest.

Really Silly In Parts

It’s impossible not to point out some of the farcical leaps of logic that this movie forces the viewer to take. The entire situation here raises a lot of questions. Many of which you will find yourself asking time and time again. In fact, I would go as far as to say this movie requires more suspension of disbelief than most fantasy movies. With some of the things that happen making virtually no sense at all. It might be worth me remembering, though, that this type of thing has happened multiple times in real life. 

Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review

It’s when the movie attempts to aim for some genuine tension and suspense that it really falls apart. The last 15 minutes ramp up the thrills considerably. But to do that they demand that the characters act in ways that are completely without sense or logic. It’s a bit frustrating, to be fair, and will likely have you cursing at your TV. This wouldn’t be such a problem if you hadn’t already been questioning nearly everything for the first hour or so of the movie. But, when you have, it feels like the ending is just another stretch too far. Daughter in Disguise is really tied up by its PG rating, as well. Meaning there are only so many directions the thrills and scares can go in. It ends up being a little bit self limiting. 

Acting is Fine

Acting is about what you would expect from a made for TV movie. It’s a bit hokey in parts and the dialogue is, frequently, pretty damn awful. Making character conversations feel rather inorganic and a bit forced. Emily Alatalo, as Kristen, has some real high points. She is very good when it comes to more emotional scenes but a bit flat in others. She has a tendency to resort to smiling too much when a scene doesn’t require a certain emotion. Steve Belford, as Justin, is pretty even throughout and does a good job.

Daughter In Disguise (2021) Horror Movie Review

Natalie Jane, as Olivia, does a nice job for the most part. Feeling very genuine when reflecting her character’s troubled past and doing a good job of showing a decent range of emotion. I’m not sure anyone would buy that she is supposed to be 15 or 16, though. I am guessing she is well into her twenties. Adrian Falconer has a short role later on in the movie and it is beyond bad. He manages to be more wooden than the logs piled up all around him.

Cinematography is okay. There is still that trademark Lifetime movie style cheapness to everything. Making the movie feel a bit low budget and lacking in polish but it is generally fine. This movie was, obviously, filmed during winter in Ottawa, Canada so every scene is bathed in snow. Something which I actually really liked. It makes for a nice aesthetic. 

Final Thoughts and Score

Daughter in Disguise is a very drama heavy thriller that is quite watchable. It’s not going to blow you away and is very much lacking in suspense and tension. But, for a made for TV movie, it isn’t too bad. There are a lot of tremendous leaps of logic here and the ending is a bit farcical. It remains predictable and obvious throughout. But there is also a pretty interesting story at the heart of the movie. Making it fairly easy to stay engaged despite the extremely slow pace. This probably won’t appeal to a lot of horror fans. It is just too slow and lacking in scares. But if you fancy something story and character driven and don’t want to invest too much energy in a story. Daughter in Disguise is okay.

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