Elijah Wood as Norval
Stephen McHattie as Gordon
Garfield Wilson as Ronald Plum
Michael Smiley as Jethro
Martin Donovan as David
Madeleine Sami as Gladys
Ona Grauer as Precious
Directed by Ant Timpson
Come to Daddy review:
Films based around family reunions very rarely get the horror twist, deciding to stick closer to dysfunctional comedy or moving drama rather than thrills or chills, but Ant Timpson and Toby Harvard had other thoughts and brought Elijah Wood along for the ride in the humorous and nail-biting thriller Come to Daddy, and it pays off in spades.
Wood stars as Norval Greenwood, a Los Angeles musician who receives a letter from his long-estranged father asking to come see him at his remote cabin for a family reunion. But as he tries to connect with his father, he begins to notice he may be hiding things and secrets turn to the macabre as Norval learns the truth behind why his father left and the twisted events which are soon to come.
From the get-go, it’s apparent that things are going to be stressed and darkly comedic, and Timpson and Harvard find that equilibrium in near-perfect character, delivering some of the most bizarre and gut-busting laughs in the horror-comedy genre while also keeping things stressed and pulses racing. From a heated conversation over whether they understand Elton John to explorations of what it’s like to grow up without a father and what it’s like to try and get closed on the years missing, the script feels refreshing and intelligent all the way through, never feeling like a poor imitation of other similar narrative efforts.
One of the best aspects of the movie comes solely from Wood in the role, as his character is put through ringers and the actor must find a way to deftly leap from one emotion to another all in a matter of minutes. Wood proves to be dedicated to the role, knowing how to have audiences both sympathize because of his personality while keeping them on the fence as to whether we ought to really root for him, giving off an air of douchebaggery alongside a clearly kind soul.
McHattie turns out to be a marvel to watch, chewing up every piece of scenery he is in as Wood tries to connect with him. He proves to be a dark character that viewers definitely do not want to root for, but want to see more of as the movie goes on, when knowing how to hit on all the comedic notes carrying a really charisma. His chemistry with Wood is fascinating as they reveal a knack for knowing push the buttons of one another to get the best performance from one another and how to perform to the strengths and weaknesses of each character.
In addition to the terrific balance of tone and performances, the movie’s second and third acts prove to be among the most bonkers and exciting script overlaps using a eye-opening twist which begs for rewatches for clues of this revelation and sees the characters placed through some of the funniest, intense and darkly humorous scenarios audiences have seen in a while. From people being stabbed with a pencil covered in a unfortunate bodily fluid to individuals being choked out by female prostitutes, the story always knows when to throw a little levity into its moments that are more dark and chilling and it shines.
It’s certainly hard to go into further detail without spoiling the movie for audiences, but for people who go in thinking they have the movie and know where it goes, you will surely get exciting surprises .
In general, Wood, Harvard and Timpson have created among thought-provoking, the funniest and many disturbing efforts in each genre it fits in and it holds loads of fantastic and little information performances to draw on several viewings.