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, choosing to stick closer to dysfunctional comedy or moving drama rather than thrills or chills, but Ant Timpson and Toby Harvard had other ideas and brought Elijah Wood along for the ride in the hilarious and nail-biting thriller Come to Daddy, and it pays off in spades.
Wood stars as Norval Greenwood, a Los Angeles musician who gets a letter from his long-estranged father asking to come see him at his remote lakeside cabin for a long-awaited family reunion. But as he tries to connect with his father, he begins to notice he may be hiding dark secrets and things turn to the macabre as Norval learns the truth behind why his father left and the twisted events that are soon to come.
From the get-go, it’s clear that things are going to be tense and darkly comedic, and Timpson and Harvard find that balance in near-perfect nature, delivering some of the most bizarre and gut-busting laughs in the horror-comedy genre while also keeping things tense and pulses racing. From a heated conversation over whether they know Elton John to explorations of what it’s like to grow up without a father and what it’s like to try and get closure on the years lost, the script feels fresh and intelligent all the way through, never feeling like a poor imitation of other similar story efforts.
One of the best aspects of the film comes solely from Wood in the lead role, as his character is put through multiple ringers and the actor must find a way to deftly leap from one emotion to the next all in a matter of minutes. Wood proves to be committed to the role, knowing how to have audiences both sympathize for his character while still keeping them on the fence as to whether we should truly root for him, giving off an air of douchebaggery alongside a clearly kind soul.
McHattie also proves to be a marvel to watch, chewing up every bit of scenery he’s in as Wood tries to connect with him. He proves to be a remarkably dark character that audiences definitely don’t want to root for, but want to see more of as the film goes on, carrying a truly menacing charisma while knowing how to hit all the offbeat comedic notes. His chemistry with Wood is fascinating as they show a talent for knowing how to play to each character’s strengths and weaknesses and push the buttons of one another to get the best performance from one another.
In addition to the great balance of tone and performances, the film’s second and third acts prove to be one of the most bonkers and exciting script flips with a eye-opening twist that begs for rewatches for clues of the revelation and sees the characters put through some of the most fraught, intense and darkly hilarious scenarios audiences have seen in a while. From people being stabbed with a pen covered in a unfortunate bodily fluid to people being choked out by muscled-up female prostitutes, the story always knows when to throw a little levity into its more dark and chilling moments and it shines.
It’s certainly hard to go into further detail without spoiling the film for audiences, but for those who go in thinking they have the movie mapped out and know where it will go, you will definitely receive multiple exciting surprises across its 93 minutes.
Overall, Timpson, Harvard and Wood have created one of the funniest, thought-provoking and most disturbing efforts in every genre it fits in and it absolutely holds plenty of rewarding little details and fantastic performances to draw multiple viewings.