There are times when, in writing a review, a critic is compelled to offer up some sort of explanation of the events of the film; a brief synopsis if you will. Then there are other films where anything more than a sentence or two is far too much. “Come to Daddy,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, is a work of the latter sort.
So, those short sentences explaining the film…
Directed by Ant Timpson, “Come to Daddy” finds a man, Norval (Elijah Wood), on a trip to visit his father. Upon arriving at the house, Norval is welcomed by this person whom he has not seen in years (Stephen McHattie). From there, things get weird.
That’s it. That’s all you’re going to get specifics-wise. Anything more than that would, potentially, ruin the myriad of twists and turns this movie takes over its brief run time, and that would be dreadful. If weird and twisted is your sort of film, “Come to Daddy” is sure to make you squeal.
This is a dark, at times disturbing movie, but by and large it plays out wonderfully. Wood and McHattie offer up a tremendous back and forth as the audience blindly gropes for clues as to why the father and son were separated, what kind of man each of these people is, and how their time together is going to unfold. This completely engrossing sequence is perhaps the best part of the film, and all too soon it is over.
Do not misunderstand, the film doesn’t drop off from there, although it does suffer from some pacing issues. Instead, it evolves into something completely different. “Come to Daddy” is a movie that repeatedly morphs from one thing to another in ways that feel utterly believable within the world that has been created, and yet are, at the same time, utterly ridiculous. It is a testament to Timpson and company (the story is by Toby Harvard based on an idea by Timpson) that such an absurd, insane, twisting narrative feels perfect.
Every actor in the film—the cast also includes Garfield Wilson, Madeline Sami, Martin Donovan, Michael Smiley, Simon Chin, and more—offers up particularly unique personalities. Smiley may stand out above and beyond everyone else in this realm. The “Free Fire” actor plays Jethro… a character I can’t tell you anything about because any sort of good explanation of Jethro would demand talking far more about the movie than one should. From the moment the character is introduced, what was already a bizarre film kicks it up two or three notches. As with everyone else, Smiley looks to be having a great time as his character, and that too helps keep the audience involved.
As noted, the film is a brief one, coming in a little over 90 minutes, but in some ways it feels improbable that Timpson is able to stretch things out that far
Without question, it takes a particular sort of person—one who doesn’t mind blood and guts—to enjoy “Come to Daddy,” but anyone who watches it ought to admire Timpson’s ability to flip a narrative on its ear and have it all still make complete sense while being utterly outlandish. It is a movie that will make many people smile even though they’re turned off by what they see. This is a brilliantly sick and twisted movie that will stay with you after you’re done watching.