Come to Daddy
Come for Elijah Wood, stay for the exhilarating, surprising, and frequently funny af story. To be fair, stay for Elijah Wood too because he gives a killer performance as sad-sack ‘music industry’ fashion victim Norval, who arrives on his estranged father’s doorstep seeking answers and finding, well, more than he bargained for.
This NZ, Canadian, and Irish co-production had its genesis in NZ film industry provocateur Ant Timpson’s experience of losing his father and being left with unanswered questions. The experienced producer proves an able director in this his first effort, bringing in THE GREASY STRANGLER writer Toby Harvard (co-produced by Timpson along with Eliah Wood) to develop the story. The pair take the germ of what could potentially be an introspective indie-drama and instead turn out a balls-to-the-wall piece of gory genre fun, which plays knowledgeably and respectfully with horror and thriller tropes, and is neck deep in the blackest of comedic sauce. The narrative build is all slowburn tension to begin with—though not without its amusing parts—but once it shifts gears COME TO DADDY bucks about like the wildest of broncos. I had multiple full body laughs and full body cringes as the plot snaked its way towards a pleasing finale.
Craft-wise Ant and team have done a great job with an array fab night shoot sequences, genuinely shocking gore effects, plus immersive sound design—hats off to Foley Editor Brendan Hill!—and a standout score from NZ legend Karl Steven (of ex-Supergroove fame). These strong production elements provide a great context for a slew of decent character work. Backing up Wood in key roles are a set of veteran character actors who all come correct. Prolific Canadian actor Stephen McHattie (PONTYPOOL, ORPHAN BLACK) exudes unpredictability and barely restrained violence from his grizzled visage. Ireland’s Michael Smiley (a Ben Wheatley regular) plays in a more gleefully manic register, meanwhile Martin Donovan (ANT-MAN, BIG LITTLE LIES) is all callous self-preservation. NZers will be pleasantly surprised to see Madeleine Sami pop up in a relatively restrained side role. Despite a slightly studied American accent she helps bolster some lighter moments in a film that often dives into the (literal and metaphorical) dark. Holy hell COME TO DADDY is a fun watch, though squeamish viewers should be prepared to occasionally dive for cover.
Rating: R16 Restricted to audiences 16 years and over. NOTE: Violence, sexual references & offensive language.