These days, you never know what to expect from an Elijah Wood project, beyond WEIRD. It might be a goofy yet vulnerable sitcom like Wilfred, or Speed with a piano like Grand Piano, or the wonderful weirdness streaked with folklore horror of the animated mini-series Over the Garden Wall. Which makes Come To Daddy very on-brand for the quirky leading man. This Wood-centered thriller offers some dark comedy, ghoulish spectacle, sinister surprises, and a healthy dollop of weird.
Come To Daddy is the directorial debut of Ant Timpson, who has produced standout genre offerings like, the unapologetically graphic and gross The Greasy Strangler,, the whimsical yet gritty post-apocalyptic adventure Turbokid, and the heavy metal-fueled horror-comedy Deathgasm. While, Come To Daddy isn’t as outrageous as those freaky films. It does relish its own brand of odd with eccentric characters, graphics and goofy violence, and unapologetically crass outbursts.
Wood stars as Norval, a 35-year-old who is traveling to a far-flung seaside cabin to meet the father who abandoned him 30 years before. A letter out of the blue urged Norval to leave behind the posh Hollywood mansion where he (still) lives with his mother, and seek out the dad he’s never known, along with an explanation for his departure and some closure. But be careful what you wish for, dude. Dragging his pristine baggage—and a limited-edition “real gold” phone designed by Lorde!—Norval is shocked to trudge through woods and down dirt paths to find a blotchy, drunken, and hostile dad (Stephen McHattie).
Here is a man who speaks in snarls, relishes raw meat, and drinks beer from dawn to blackout. Meanwhile, Norval sports the fastidious high-and-tight haircut and mustache combo of hipsters, along with gender-bending, long sweaters that are reminiscent of Schitt’s Creek’s David. His dad is not impressed by all this fashion. Things only get worse when Norval says of his—um—career, “Do I DJ? Yes. Do I produce buzzy beats? Yes.” But awkwardness is just the beginning of a very bad father-and-son reunion. Far from his comfort zone and floundering in making sense of his father’s past, Norval will come across an oversharing local (Breaker Upperers’s Madeleine Sami), a pantless maniac (Simon Chin), a headlock-hurling sex worker (Ona Grauer), an unexpected ally (Martin Donovan), and a ruthless thug with a thirst for blood (Michael Smiley).
Timpson has gathered a solid cast who’s absolutely game to play in the gore-splashed sandbox he’s built. And Wood is perfectly cast at its center. With wide-eyes tremble, his soft voice quavers, brewing tension and terror with each new twist. But best of all, Wood leans gleefully into the hipster douchebag idiosyncracies, giving us a modern clown, who has bought into his own bullshit for so long that he’s blind to the bullshit of others. There’s a cringing delight in watching Norval drop names to impress his scowling father and a jolting schadenfreude when his obnoxiously exclusive phone is clumsily dropped into the ravenous waves below. But as this privileged prat begins to face horrid truths and real threats, the film shifts from smirking humor to grisly suspense. And while it’s a slow start, this ride is quite fun once it gets going.
If you’re looking for something that’s a bit ghoulish, gross, and goofy, check out Come To Daddy. It’s a deranged bit of fun for the whole deeply f*cked up family.
Come To Daddy makes its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 25.
Header Image Source: Firefly Films