COME TO DADDY
Written by Toby Hardvard, based on Ant Timpson’s idea
Directed by Ant Timpson
Elijah Wood plays Norval, a man in his thirties who receives a letter requesting he visit his estranged father at a remote, beach house. He’s a sensitive soul, dressed in designer black threads, owns a limited edition of 20 gold cellphone and considers himself an artist. Despite having not seen his son since he walked out when the kid was five, none of this impresses dad much. Worse still for the anxious father, Norval doesn’t drink. In-fact, there’s real, unprovoked animosity towards his son by the excellent Stephen McHattie (PONTYPOOL). He is the embodiment of cantankerous and antagonistic. But why? The answer to this question for Norval is in the first of many superb twists that move the goal posts from what appears to be a coming of age movie to ghost story to pulpy noir thriller in the blink of an eye. New characters enter the fray to unravel a story of what made Norval’s father invite him over. Mental walls come crashing down as the stakes escalate to life or death for our young hero. His first attempt at killing someone is a pathetic failure, but it’s enough to make him understand what his father needs him to do. Much applause goes to Michael Smiley as Jethro - the evil piece of dentistry disaster and recurring nemesis of Norval’s throughout COME TO DADDY.
The coastal location is beautiful and Ant Timpson uses it and the nearby woods to his cinematic advantage...
The coastal location is beautiful and Ant Timpson uses it and the nearby woods to his cinematic advantage, but it’s in key emotional scenes that he really shows you his confidence as a filmmaker. In a early sequence where McHattie humiliates Wood about them both being close friends of Elton John, the recurring close up on Wood’s needy face as his fake façade of an artist’s life comes crumbling down is a wonderfully human moment among many that Timpson wants you to empathise with.
Toby Harvard’s pacy script flip-flops all over the place as the truth of Norval’s dire situation worsens with each satisfying pay off after satisfying pay off. The through line of tiger motif is particularly impressive.
COME TO DADDY will keep you guessing, make you grab your testicles (whether you have a pair or not) and laugh at an unspooling toilet roll – trust me. Dark humour punctuates much of the violent action and Wood’s growth from pampered millennial to alone in a haunted house to hardboiled hero is a real joy to watch.