Chaotic horror comedy romp Come to Daddy from Kiwi director Ant Timpson is an outlandish tale of father son bonding under the most extreme circumstances, that manages to defy expectations at every turn.
Lord of the Rings star turned indie-horror darling Elijah Wood stars as Norval Greenwood, an achingly hip music mogul who dresses like he’s walked through a post-apocalyptic Topman sale backwards.
We don’t know much about his past, but you can almost guarantee that he used to run a blog about the midwest emo bands you NEED to know.
He receives a letter from his Dad (Stephen McHattie) asking him to come visit, their first correspondence in 30 years, so he catches a bus and works his way through the forest to his Dad’s isolated beachside home.
His ironic bowl cut, chipped black nail varnish and Asian lettering neck tattoo make him a fish out of water around his father, a confrontational, misanthropic, alcoholic who seems to get a kick out of emotionally manipulating Norval.
The clear tension between them slowly bubbles to the surface in the first half, as Norval attempts to find out the reasoning behind his father’s summoning, and his father grows increasingly erratic.
Just as this power struggle becomes slightly tiresome the film entirely changes pace and tone, and not just once, for the entire second half Timpson juggles gross out comedy, psychological horror and crime thriller elements.
This may sound like throwing muck at a wall and seeing what it sticks, but its combined with ease, and after the initial jarring change, it effortlessly bends genre conventions to full effect.
Timpson is completely in control of his craft, managing to ground all the madness of the second half in real human emotion, after all, it’s at its core a film about Norval working out his daddy issues.
Most impressive perhaps is the sheer range of comedy throughout, Norval channels David Brent early on when describing his career, and goes on to land a joke about the nutrients in semen with inch perfect delivery.
The character interactions are reminiscent of those in Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, with their intense focus on the trivial at serious times, especially whenever idiotic henchman Jethro is on screen (Michael Smiley, who also stars in Free Fire).
Jethro also gets the best line in the film, a gag about Michael Heseltine, which will probably fall on deaf ears to most audiences outside the UK.
It’s easy to see Come to Daddy gaining cult status in the future, its unbridled confidence in its eclectic vision is refreshing to watch, we can only hope Timpson delivers more of the same madness in the future.
Image courtesy of Indie Wire via YouTube, with thanks.