Come To Daddy

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Come To Daddy
"This is one film that's really going to test the mettle of Wood's mainstream fanbase." | Photo: Jamie Leigh Gianopoulos

Norval (Elijah Wood) hasn't seen his father since childhood, when the old man ran out on him and his mother. He's grown up resentful as such kids often do, but he's been well provided for, and he's retained enough curiosity to be intrigued when he receives a letter out of the blue suggesting a reunion. This is the reason why he's travelled across country to a timber-framed house on a remote beach. The man he finds there confounds his expectations, but there are many more surprises to come.

Ant Timpson's decidedly offbeat thriller, reportedly based on the death of his own father, delights on pulling the rug out from under viewers' feet every time they think they've got their balance. It's also pretty brutal to its hero, though Norval is a far cry from the sweet little hobbit whose shadow Wood has been trying to shake off ever since 2003. A would-be music producer who's big on bullshit and spectacularly sleazy when he falls off the wagon, he arrives at the house with a fair bit of psychological baggage of his own, but that's nothing to what he is about to uncover. Despite a friendly (if gruff) introduction and a disarming dose of absurdist humour, Timpson quickly builds up the tension. Although the film gets more explicit later on, it's in the early scenes that the simple use of shadows and unidentified sounds delivers genuine chills.

Copy picture

From this disquieting yet sometimes very funny start, the film picks up pace and launches into a series of desperate escapades for which Norval is singularly ill-equipped. Wood quickly gets the audience onside despite his character's unpleasantness as the young man's worldview is torn to pieces. There's some very bloody violence and a great deal of social awkwardness, with great performances from the supporting cast making minor characters feel real despite the off-kilter nature of the story. The whole is strung together with deadpan humour, our hapless hero confronted by a series of unfortunate events with roots that ho back before he was born, his day just getting worse and worse.

This is one film that's really going to test the mettle of Wood's mainstream fanbase, but its quirkiness and sheer unpredictability are likely to make it a cult favourite. You certainly won't see much else like it. Though it constantly teeters on the brink and risks becoming too ridiculous to work, Timpson keeps his balance surprisingly well, delivering something that won't be easily forgotten.


Come To Daddy, which opened Frightfest 2019, is expected to go on general release early in 2020.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2019
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After receiving a cryptic letter from his estranged father, Norval travels to his dad’s oceanfront home for what he hopes will be a positive experience. If only he’d known the dark truth about his old man beforehand.

Director: Ant Timpson

Writer: Toby Harvard

Starring: Elijah Wood, Madeleine Sami, Stephen McHattie, Ona Grauer, Michael Smiley, Martin Donovan, Raresh DiMofte, Garfield Wilson, Simon Chin, Alla Rouba

Year: 2019

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: Canada


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