Director Ant Timpson got the idea for this movie after losing his own father. His father’s partner thought it was best to bring him home to spend time with the family. The corpse was in an open coffin and, for the week he was there, people Ant didn’t know shared stories of a man that he didn’t know as his father. I have always had this thought that you can never truly know someone completely, there will always be something you don’t know about them. Even our parents, the ones who raise and shape who are as human beings, will always have their secrets. This is where Come to Daddy hinges its narrative.
Norval Greenwood (Wood in a stellar performance from start to finish) is visiting a father he never knew his entire life after receiving a letter asking him to come to his house. That house sits on a lonely beach front with a panoramic view of the ocean and the two attempt to get to know one another after a lifetime as strangers. Desperate to impress his Dad, Norval lies about being in the music industry and knowing Elton John, a fact his Dad puts to the test after saying he knows Elton John too! Dad (McHattie) is crass, insulting, and gets drunk as the night wears on. He even antagonizes Norval by chugging a glass of wine in his son’s face after Norval reveals he is an alcoholic and attempted suicide. When Norval confronts his Dad about why he asked him to come, things get heated, then Daddy comes after Norval with a cleaver! Before he can chop his son up, he dies of a heart attack, leaving Norval with no answer to his questions. When the Coroner (Sami) comes to take the body away, she tells him that, due to a storage issue, his father’s body has to stay with Norval until the family can make arrangements. She suggests Norval takes this time to talk with his Dad and get whatever he needs to off his chest…that night, Norval hears a banging sound coming from somewhere inside the house. This leads to an upsetting discovery: the corpse in the living room isn’t his father! The movie picks up from there and only gets weirder and wilder as Norval eventually meets his Dad, learns about his past, and a lot about who he is. I am sparing you the details of the rest as you really need to see this to really understand how far this movie goes.
What could have been an endearing drama about trying to connect with a long lost parent spirals into a story of mayhem and murder as Norval loses control of himself and is pushed over the edge. Elijah Wood is impressive as he runs the gamut from shy and reserved in the beginning to a blood soaked mess of a man by the end. There is some heart in this film as well amidst the chaos which is a credit to Ant Timpson’s direction and closeness to the heart of the story. This film makes you laugh and cringe at the same time following Norval on his journey of discovery.
Sometimes you have to go into a film blind. Like this one, for example. I saw one trailer and noticed Elijah Wood was starring. That was enough to convince me to check this one out. Why was this just enough? Well, Elijah Wood has had an interesting career post-Lord of the Rings. Instead of pursuing more high profile work, he has opted to star in small, indie horror films. While this may seem like a strange career move to the average filmgoer, it has been a great one for a horror fan like me. See, Wood has done this without hamming it up and having a genuine passion for the genre. So, I was interested in his latest, Come to Daddy. And, boy, what a strange, yet still oddly enticing ride this was.
This is a film which heavily explores the theme of the son suffering the sins of the father. And by heavily, I mean heavily. It’s pretty apparent with the plot alone, but there’s also the quotes at the beginning which hammer it more home. And, to the film’s credit, it commits to this theme until the very end. The only two things which held it back for me was the constant changing tone and the ending. Now, I understand this was the intent since this is a black comedy/horror film. But, the tones didn’t always work for me. One minute, I would be completely glued to the screen in anticipation of what was happening. The next minute I was checking the runtime. As for the ending, the main reason it doesn’t sit well with me is because there are things mentioned earlier in the film which are just dropped by the time the credits roll. What does anchor this film, though, is Elijah Woods performance. As I first mentioned, he doesn’t ham it up and is consistently fun to watch.
For the most part, this was an okay film for me. The changes in tone and the ending didn’t completely work, both leaving a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth. But, at the same time, it’s always good to see Wood in a horror film. So, if you’re stuck inside on a rainy or snowy day, check this one out. There’s still some fun to be had here.