Ant Timpson’s Come To Daddy

Come To Daddy is a fairly… unnerving title for a horror movie, it just suggests all manner of demented depravities, so needless to say I went into this one expecting to be… jarred, lol. It was a bit less messed up than I was geared up for, but it’s still a slice of darkly humorous, cheerfully sadistic fun that is genuinely tough to predict as each bizarre new plot point barrels along like a sideshow act at a circus freak show. Speaking of freak shows, Elijah Wood has been deliberately choosing some of the most crazy, weird, off the wall horror scripts in the last few years, stuff like Wayne Kramer’s Pawn Shop Chronicles, Grand Piano and Maniac. This can be squarely added in that category and might even be the strangest in his latter day run of Midnite style horror stuff. Here he plays a fellow called Norval, a semi celebrity DJ (or so he says, anyway) who journeys to Tofino, BC to see his long estranged father (Stephen McHattie) at his remote beach house. Things get odd pretty quick, as daddy seems to be acting anything but like a father, tension mounts, behaviours get increasingly nuts and… I’ll leave it at that, because the plot is one deranged ball of diseased yarn that unravels with stunning arbitration and hilariously madcap, nonsensical abandon, to the point where at times it feels like the writer had a mini stroke at his keyboard and the misfiring neurons took over for the third act. Wood is the Oxford definition of ‘wide eyed’ and while his presence in films can often irk me somehow (don’t even get me going on his fucking haircut in this one), it’s played to effect here where you’re almost supposed to mock this guy and his self applied role as some famous arthouse DJ (snicker). Aforementioned ‘wide eyed’ attribute goes along way here and I promise you my eyes somehow got wider than his as I watched this thing unfold alongside him, both of us confused, perplexed and utterly revolted. McHattie is Canadian acting royalty, an absolute invincible workhorse of supporting villains, indie leads and big budget character actor work, he’s been spinning gold in his craft for decades, often thanklessly, I love the guy to bits and he just lights up a screen with brittle, organic, terrifying charisma every time. His role here is hysterical, a hard drinking, volcanically unstable, verbally abusive, mentally corroded old fucker whose next move is always unpredictable, the guy could just as well pour you a drink as smash the glass across your face and laugh in it, and he lets it rip here. As much as I’d love to mention the rest of the cast (who are all terrific as well) I simply can’t do it without spoiling this thing, which I promised myself I wouldn’t do. It’s well worth a look, for the beautiful coastal Canadian cinematography (Tofino is a happy place for me), for the shocking, disarming black humour, for the certifiably insane performances, McHattie’s in particular, and just the sheer dedication to madhouse intensity, unpredictable thrills and grab-bag scriptwriting. Great stuff.

-Nate Hill

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