Come to Daddy, 2020.
Directed by Ant Timpson.
Starring Elijah Wood, Stephen McHattie, Ona Grauer, Garfield Wilson, Simon Chin, Madeleine Sami, Martin Donovan, and Michael Smiley.
Norval Greenwood, a privileged man-child arrives at the beautiful and remote coastal cabin of his estranged father. He quickly discovers that not only is dad a jerk, but he also has a shady past that is rushing to catch up with both of them. 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.
This deliriously paranoid thriller proves just how bold Elijah Wood is continuing to be with his career at the moment as this tale of a reunion between Father and Son becomes increasingly dark, twisted and undeniably depraved. While Come to Daddy initially seems to take aim at consumerism and millennial culture, it quickly dispatches those notions as Elijah Wood’s Norval dives head first into the murky world of kidnapping and violent retaliation. Horror fans looking for a solid mystery alongside wince-worthy scenes of unrestrained torture and violence will surely be happy with what happens in the back half of the film.
It’s fascinating to see the transformation that Norval goes through as his time in Oregon quickly transforms him and everything he seems to know about his life. It’s quickly explained that he’s travelled up to Oregon after his estranged Father sent him a letter asking to see him urgently. Clearly, things don’t quite add up once he arrives. Come to Daddy features a few surprising moments that constantly challenge Norval’s boundaries and everything he holds dear in a truly twisted manner – which makes his journey all the more fascinating to see.
While it boasts plenty of gruesome violence, it interestingly has a brief flirtation with psychological horror as Norval questions his own sanity during his stay. It disappointingly only briefly lingers on the style before the film’s first twist, it would have been good to twist that knife a little further before it delved further into the meat and bones of the plot (and quite literally, some of its characters). While Norval is undoubtedly pushed to his limits as he confronts his own trauma through other spoilerific parts of the film, the noises that haunt him during the isolating scenes early on created a satisfyingly unsettling atmosphere.
The violence Norval is forced to engage in clearly becomes cathartic as he works through the absence of his Father for most of his life. And while it does take a little while to get bloody, Come to Daddy pulls no punches in its bone-crunching and unflinching approach to rebuilding Norval’s family – just not in the way audiences might predict. BWhile Elijah Wood’s impressive performance makes the audience feel on edge, he ocasionally feels like a heightened version of characters we’ve seen him embody before, like Todd in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Although seeing Norval grapple with his father for approval using an anecdote is definitely one of the best conversational moments. (Is “Ratfucker” the best new insult of 2020? Maybe so…)
The real stand-out performance comes from Michael Smiley – who is utterly terrifying as a depraved figure from Norval’s father’s past. Thanks to his methods and tastes, he comes across as dangerously unpredictable and truly sets the film alight once he makes his full entrance. It’s hard not too feel terrified for Norval as he goes up against the monstrously vicious villain thanks to his savage tendencies. Wickedly entertaining for fans of brutal horror with a pinch of character analysis – Come to Daddy is depraved, fascinating and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★