Spoiler warning: This review won’t spoil every big reveal in “Come To Daddy,” but there will be some mild plot spoilers included. To avoid these spoilers but learn about the movie, just watch the trailer below.
“Come To Daddy” is a darkly comedic thriller that was written by Ant Timpson and Toby Harvard. It’s also Timpson’s feature directorial debut; he’s primarily worked in film as a producer up until this point. And boy, what a debut it is.
The film follows Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood), a 35-year-old man who’s come to a remote cabin to see his father for the first time in three decades. Norval received a letter, along with a hand-drawn map, from his dad asking him to visit — but giving no clear reason for the sudden contact after so long. But it’s a bit disappointing: The older man (Stephen McHattie) appears to be an alcoholic, and he’s definitely not kind. You can feel the tension between the two immediately, and it’s unsettling to know that you have no more idea of where it’s going than Norval does. At the end of the first act, though, things get really weird.
In the first 30 or so minutes of this movie, Norval’s dad attempts to murder him not once, but twice. The second time, as he’s coming at him with a meat cleaver, he keels over. He’s dead. So Norval gets the town’s sheriff and coroner over to the house, but because of overcrowding the body must be returned to the home after embalming. Yeah, that’s creepy. And of course, Norval isn’t sure how to grieve for this father he barely knew. Then the banging and moaning sounds begin.
Can you tell that things aren’t quite what they seem at this remote cabin? As the plot develops, Norval gets pulled into a violent scheme that has him fighting for his life in some truly odd situations.
I would be remiss to let you know any more than that going into “Come To Daddy,” but suffice to say that this movie is unpredictable. For those who have seen Panos Cosmatos’s “Mandy,” you know the level of wild and vicious to expect here. As for the rest of you: just be warned that this isn’t an easy watch, but it is a mostly fun one.
It’s actually surprising how funny the movie is, considering the darkness that drives its plot and characters. One of the most striking things is the way each character speaks, especially in the first half of the film; almost everyone in this universe has a straightforward and direct way of speaking to one another (even complete strangers). It definitely feels surreal and provides a level of discomfort, for both Norval and the audience.
Other aspects that helps add to the tension throughout “Come To Daddy” are the red lighting that’s often used — making you expect something bad around the corner constantly — and the menacing music that’s there from the very first scene. It’s actually impressive how much of this movie takes place in the bright and sunny outdoors, but it doesn’t take away from the thrill ride.
As usual, Elijah Wood gives an amazing performance here. His post-“Lord of the Rings” career has been so fun to watch, from acting choices like this one and the remake of “Maniac” to his production choices for films like “Color Out of Space” and the aforementioned “Mandy.” He’s so great at playing an awkward, complex character — not bad, but not quite likable either. And once the proverbial excrement hits the fan, he’s all in.
What are some things in “Come To Daddy” that someone might want to know before going in? Well, when I say it’s violent, I mean it. There are some incredibly brutal acts here, and the gore isn’t overdone, but it is…done. There’s also nudity (both male and female!), but it’s way less shocking than the fighting.
If you have a strong stomach and you’re looking for a fun (and funny) thriller, I can’t recommend this movie highly enough.
“Come To Daddy” is in select theaters and on VOD and digital on February 7, 2020.
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.