Runtime: 93 Minutes
Director: Ant Timpson
Writer: Toby Howard (story and screenplay), Ant Timpson (idea)
Stars: Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Martin Donavan, Michael Smiley, Madeleine Sami
By Harris Dang
Horror genre cinema has been making a lot of impact in the indie circles this past decade. With upcoming filmmakers from all over the world like Julia Ducournau, Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, Coralie Fargeat and others; it is an exciting time to be a filmgoer. But there is one man that has not only starred in great genre pieces, but has helped produced many of them as well. That man is Elijah Wood.
Best known for his work in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he has acted in interesting projects that took him out of the blockbuster luster. While there were films that did not succeed so well eg. “Green Street”; there were films that shocked audiences due to his change in image like “Maniac” (2012) and “Sin City” (2005). Since then, he has worked on more genre films like “Grand Piano” until he started his own production company (with Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller) called Spectrevision; which produced fantastic films like “Mandy”, “The Greasy Strangler” and “Colour Out of Space”.
Ant Timpson’s horror comedy “Come to Daddy” is a flawed, yet satisfying feature film debut.
For Wood’s latest acting venture, we have “Come to Daddy”; a black comedy horror made by Ant Timpson; making his directorial debut. Like Wood, Timpson has produced many great genre efforts such as “The ABCs of Death 1 & 2”, “Turbo Kid” and “The Greasy Strangler” alongside Wood. Will “Come to Daddy” be as striking as those films?
Wood stars as Norval, a talented musician who is notified via letter that his father (Stephen McHattie), asking that he would come and visit him. This comes as a shock to Norval as the two have not seen each other for more than 30 years. He travels down to his father’s secluded cabin near a lake and the two are initially welcoming to each other.But when the conversations become deeper, his father gradually becomes more aggressive and it leads Norval down a spiral of shocking revelations, gruesome violence and redemption.
Elijah Wood is convincingly wired and taciturn as our lead character Norval while supporting actors like Stephen McHattie, Martin Donavan and Michael Smiley are all having fun with their pantomime performances.
The synopsis is brief as this reviewer wants to avoid spoilers (even in the set-up) for those interested in seeing it. But does the film succeed in providing a strong genre effort as gonzo as the filmographies of those involved? Thankfully, Ant Timpson‘s horror comedy “Come to Daddy” is a flawed, yet satisfying feature film debut, that is appropriately demented, blackly humourous, grisly and surprisingly poignant.
The cast, full of genre regulars, are all on the money here, as they know what the material is and play along with the gonzo feel. Elijah Wood is convincingly wired and taciturn as our lead character Norval while supporting actors like Stephen McHattie, Martin Donavan and Michael Smiley are all having fun with their pantomime performances as the men that interfere with Norval’s life. In comparison to the men, it is a shame that Madeleine Sami is given the short shrift as the paramedic, since she steals the film when she shows up, allows a nice respite from the predominantly male cast and lends more depth to her character than the script allows.
The script is written by Toby Howard (who co-wrote “The Greasy Strangler”) and while the twists and humour are certainly appreciated (especially when things are toxic and passive-aggressive), the violence (while appropriately overstated and macabre) tends to overwhelm the film leading to a draggy third act. It is at those moments where it is evident that Timpson struggles to steer the film through its abrupt tone shifts.
But the film recovers nicely with a touching ending that pays off the emotional threads and foreshadowing of the father and son relationship in a satisfyingly twisted manner. It was said in interviews that the genesis of the film started off with the passing of Timpson’s father and the melancholy does come through in the film; adding a sense of poignancy that felt quite unexpected yet welcome considering the emotional throughline of fathers and sons.
“Come to Daddy” is a flawed feature film directorial debut for Ant Timpson, but it certainly hints of great things to come; and that’s all we really should ask for in directorial debuts, right?
Signature Entertainment presents “Come to Daddy” on Digital HD from 21st February and DVD & Blu-ray March 2nd