Come To Daddy is an intense, visceral, film in which we see a man hit rock bottom in the most absurd twisted way. Elijah Wood and company offer damning performances that help sell this piece of insanity and the tight-knight cinematography only highlights these performances as well as some really great sequences. No matter how over the top the film gets with its absurd use of humor and violence, the story is pretty strong and really straightforward. It makes it just that much more compelling in the end.
Norval (Elijah Wood) receives a letter from his father and goes about to see his dad after so many years of not seeing him. When Norval arrives, his father turns out to be an abusive, vulgar, alcoholic. This sends Norval down a path of reconciling with a past he has tried to forget, whereas his dad brings out some of the darkest and most twisted secrets that may have been best kept buried alongside other skeletons in the closet. That’s just about as much as I can say without spoiling it too much.
The path Wood’s character takes definitely has an interesting arc. His journey is a non-stop downward spiral of maddening insanity. It is slow in the first half as it sets up the characters and the overall situation. After the first act transitions into the second act, we witness Wood go on a journey into the depths of emotional turmoil and having an existential crisis of sorts as his dad’s secrets keep boiling to the surface. There’s a lot of room to play with as Norval is a spoiled brat when he first visits. He even has the audacity to boast about how rare a gold iPhone is, however, that leaves the filmmakers a lot of room to play with and allow the character to grow and learn, which he does in the most unfortunate of ways.
The one thing that may keep viewers from fully investing in the story is the constant tonal shifts throughout. Its dark comedy feels misplaced at times, but on the other hand, when director Ant Timpson leans into subversion and allows the humor to seep through, the tone feels just right. It takes quite a bit to find its footing with the balance of both the humor and thrilling elements of the film.
It’s worth noting the cinematography adds a lot to the overall tension to Come To Daddy. There’s an unnerving feeling in the first couple of minutes as we see Elijah wandering through the woods alone in search of his father’s place. Isolation, vulnerability, and a sense of uncertainty can only mean one thing: disaster. The scenes with Elijah Wood and Stephen McHattie (his dad) have a real sense of disconnect, which is interesting as the house they are staying at is on the outskirts of the forest by the ocean. Pure isolation. While that isolation feeling can be found in the very beginning, viewers will soon feel a sense of claustrophobia as the shots are tight and more fast-paced by the middle and especially toward the end, until the filmmakers decide to release us and relieve the gut-wrenching feeling of there’s no escape. Believe me when I say this… It’s just pure chaos and insanity. All of this serves a really great purpose thematically for Norval’s journey. It’s hard to really dive deep into it without going into spoilers.
Some may have issues with the extreme violence found near the end. I personally did not and I think the filmmakers had a lot of fun with the sequences. In a way, the absurdity of the ultra-violent sequences adds to the dark humor undertone that weaves its way throughout the film. There were a couple of times where I had to laugh at how over the top and badass the fight choreography got at points. With that being said, the violent nature of the film coincides with the tonal shift flaws the film has as stated earlier. At a point it feels completely random. At other points, it feels very much organic within the boundaries the movie had set up. And at other points, it feels completely bizarre but also satisfying to watch. Like I said. Gut-wrenching until the filmmakers allow us to breathe with a release of a deep breath.
Will this movie be for everybody? Most certainly not. It can be quite vulgar and graphic and I understand that’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But if you like action-packed slow burners with twists that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then hell yes this movie is for you. That is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed this film; I never knew what was coming next and the story was compelling and fun as a whole. I would recommend Come To Daddy for that alone.
“Come To Daddy” is currently out on VOD to rent/buy as of February 7th, 2020 in the USA.