Come to Daddy

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Come to Daddy
dir Ant Timpson
scr Toby Harvard
prd Mette-Marie Kongsved, Laura Tunstall, Toby Harvard
with Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Martin Donovan, Michael Smiley, Madeleine Sami, Ona Grauer, Simon Chin, Ryan Beil, Garfield Wilson, Raresh DiMofte, Noam Zylberman, Gord Middleton
release US Apr.19 tff,
UK Aug.19 ff
19/Canada 1h33

donovan smiley sami

mchattie and wood
With a visually stylised, blackly comical approach, director Ant Timpson and writer Toby Harvard spin a cleverly insinuating freak-out. A striking setting and full-bodied performances help the film continually wrongfoot the audience as it spirals in unexpected directions. And each scene is peppered with telling details and amusing touches that deepen both the themes and the film's deranged sense of humour. But the real surprise is how moving it is.
Heading to a dramatic house on an isolated rocky coast, Norval (Wood) is hoping to reconnect with his estranged, inebriated father Gordon (McHattie). After 30 years, their conversation is hesitant as they get to know each other. Norval's attempts to impress his dad never come off, and Gordon refuses to tell him why he asked him to visit. As tempers flare, things take an unexpected turn that sends Norval down a rabbit hole of unhinged madness, leading to a desperate series of tense situations that leave Norval wishing he'd never met his dad at all.
The film is sharply well photographed by Daniel Katz in striking locations, heightening reality with a witty use of light, colours, textures and Norval's odd haircut. And the editing is playfully offbeat as well. Meanwhile, Norval and Gordon clash on so many levels that their interaction is difficult to watch, especially as Gordon's passive aggression turns downright violent. Then in the film's second half, the horror becomes even more unsettling. There's an astonishing hand-to-hand fight in the kitchen that's underscored with comical touches even as it gets increasingly, insanely grisly.

Wood brings an yearning rawness as a 35-year-old who still lives with his mother and wants his absent father's approval. McHattie has a wiry, fidgety energy that carries a strong sense of menace, especially when he launches a verbal attack. The way they rub each other the wrong way, leading to alarmingly nasty arguments, is played with startling authenticity. When Donovan and Smiley turn up, they bring to life deliciously outrageous characters who push the story even further.

Timpson's direction finely maintains the balance between comedy, terror and intrigue, as Norval tries to make sense of perplexing people and an unimaginable experience. And as this crazy situation both spins out of control and begins to come into focus, the film cleverly wrestles with deep-seated daddy issues while providing a nonstop stream of seriously gruesome twists and turns. It's an extraordinarily well-assembled horror movie with a terrific kick in the tail.

cert 18 themes, language, violence 11.Aug.19

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Come to Daddy Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall