Director Ant Timpson’s debut feature Come To Daddy is a weird and wild ride, full of surprises and a superb performance from star Elijah Wood.
Helping bring the 2019 edition of Toronto After Dark to a close, Come To Daddy is a fever dream of a film, exciting and gruesome while exploring the notion of family and fatherhood.
Wood is Norval, an insecure hipster with a questionable haircut and moustache, who comes to his father’s remote and scenic lakeside home after receiving a letter from his estranged dad. Armed with the letter and a hand-drawn map to find his way, the man (Stephen McHattie) Norval meets defies his fatherly expectations. Thirty years after dear old dad abandoned the family, Norval is treated to an awkward and unusual family reunion full of petty squabbles and comic absurdity, where, inevitably, his dad slowly reveals some serious truths.
The less said about what comes next in Come To Daddy, the better.
Bloody, gruesome, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, the horror is unapologetically violent as its central mystery unfurls itself on screen in totally unexpected ways. Filmed on location in Tofino, the horror’s spectacular and idyllic setting only adds to Norval’s discomfort of being so far out of his comfort zone.
Wood steps into what’s becoming a familiar character for him in his horror role: the meek and mild everyman who is put in a normal situation that quickly spirals out of control in horrific ways. The actor, who is one-third of genre production company SpectreVision, is great, as is Canadian horror legend McHattie as the bitter and drunk Gordon who antagonizes and menaces Norval over everything from his drink of choice to Elton John.
With a script written by Toby Harvard (The Greasy Stranger), Wood and McHattie get to go toe-to-toe in spectacular ways as the movie springs from something the Coen Brothers might have dreamed up into full-blown Tarantino territory. While the film’s ultimate denouement doesn’t quite live up to the witty and careful set-up in the first hour, it’s nonetheless a satisfying conclusion.
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