COME TO DADDY is the feature film directorial debut from acclaimed producer Ant Timpson (The Greasy Strangler, Housebound), with a script penned by Toby Harvard (The Greasy Strangler), about a man who goes and visits his estranged father. The film stars Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings), Stephen McHattie (300), Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies), Michael Smiley (The Lobster), Madeleine Sami (Breaker Uppers), and Simon Chin (Killing Eve).
Norval Greenwood (Elijah Wood), a privileged man-child arrives at the beautiful and remote coastal cabin of his estranged father, who he hasn’t seen in 30 years. He quickly discovers that not only is his dad a disapproving jerk, he also has a shady past that is rushing to catch up with him. Now, hundreds of miles from his cushy comfort zone, Norval must battle with demons both real and perceived in order to reconnect with a father he barely knows.
I’ve watched a lot of horror/thrillers in my 35 years on this planet and though I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, I can usually tell where a movie is headed rather early on. In the case of COME TO DADDY, not only could I have been further from the truth in where I thought this movie was headed, but it’s easily one of the fucking wildest movies I’ve seen in 2019. Because I believe in the sanctity of not spoiling anything, this review will be light in terms of the overall premise of what unfolds during the film. What I can say is that if you ever thought you had daddy issues, they are nothing compared to Norvals.
I immediately resonated with this film after reading Timpson’s statement on how the idea came to be. After losing his father, he went through an exploration of what could potentially be the darker side of his father’s life. Having lost my own dad 18 years ago, I felt a kinship to what Timpson was conveying, especially when it came to light that my father had been hiding some unsavory aspects of himself from me and the rest of my family. Had he been alive today, I can almost guarantee we would be estranged which is why I figured this movie would tug on my heartstrings. However, I was not prepared for the onslaught of twists and turns that unfolded, resulting in a film that was more about Norval’s growth (in a bizarre series of events) than that of his father.
Taking on the brunt of the film’s performances is that of Elijah Wood. Dressed in hammer pants outfitted by a flowing tunic while carrying a rose-gold limited edition cellphone created by Lorde, Norval is the epitome of white male entitlement. We later come to find that he’s still living at home with his mom while attempting to make his career in the “music business” sound much more glamorous than it really is. Wood does a tremendous job of not only carrying this movie but making it feel so believable and genuine. Even when he learns just how much of an asshole his father is, you can still see him struggling with wanting to be accepted and loved by him.
As for Timpson’s first feature film, he knocks it out of the park, especially if you like films that are weird and twisty turvy. I can only imagine how cathartic this must have been for him, to be able to make a film both in remembrance of his father and as a way to work through any unfinished grief/guilt/whatever you want to call it. The whole film plays out seamlessly and I think a lot of that has to do with the players involved, especially Timpson, Wood, and writer Toby Harvard, all of whom worked on The Greasy Strangler together. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have a few bumps in the road, it most certainly does, but it is easier to disregard them when viewing the overall picture.
Honestly, COME TO DADDY is one of the best debut films I’ve seen in 2019. It’s incredibly surprising, shockingly funny, and ruthlessly violent (listen, someone gets stabbed in the penis and it’s worthy of praise). It’s a movie that may make some audience goers uncomfortable due to the weird mixture of humor and violence and, to be quite honest, I think that’s great. For me, this is a film that will definitely hold a special place in my heart as it is a reminder that our parents, those who we hold in such high esteem, have the ability to make awful mistakes with dire consequences because after all, they are only human.
COME TO DADDY had its World Premiere this evening at the Tribeca Film Festival but will have additional screenings on Friday, April 26 @ 8:45pm, Saturday, April 27 @ 9:15pm, and Friday 5/3 @ 9:45pm. Lastly, this is a movie that you should go into as blind as possible and if you are able to keep the shocking spoilers of Avengers: EndGame quiet, then do your movie friends a solid and don’t ruin the surprises in COME TO DADDY. For more information about screenings at Tribeca, visit www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/come-to-daddy-2019.