Movie Review: Come to Daddy (2019)

December 30, 2019

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected]. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Learn as little as possible about Come to Daddy  — that includes avoiding trailers, though the one presented below thankfully avoids the film’s biggest reveals —  and prepare for a highly uncomfortably blast. Director Ant Timpson’s genre-bending feature is chock full of secrets, well-calculated twists, and bravura performances. Family drama, gruesome set pieces, pitch-black humor, and even some poignant bittersweetness collide in the story of man-child Norval’s (Elijah Wood, Maniac; Cooties) travels to a remote beach house to meet his father, who abandoned Norval and his mother 30 years earlier.

Norval was initially nervous about the reunion, but nothing prepared him for the verbal abuse and physical threats he receives courtesy of his highly aggressive, judgmental father (Stephen McHattie, Pontypool; Dreamland ), who chides Norval about his substance abuse recovery despite his own fondness for the bottle. In a nail-bitingly tense scene, the father plays an excrutiating game of mental chess regarding how well Norval actually knows rock music legend Elton John. Wood and McHattie give two of the year’s finest genre-film performances, with Wood portraying fragile Norval using deer-in-the-headlights confusion and McHattie assaying a remarkable screen villain turn. 

And that merely brings us to the end of the first part of Come to Daddy! Following that, the film takes some tense, engaging, mind-bending paths as it plays freely with horror, dark comedy, and thriller elements, with more than a fair share of brutality and blood spilling. The cinematography by Daniel Katz is gorgeous. Michael Smiley (Kill List), Martin Donovan (Rememory), Ona Grauer (House of the Dead), and Madeleine Sami (What We Do In the Shadows) all impress in important supporting roles, but do yourself a favor and don’t try to find out why until you let Come to Daddy work its cinematic magic on you.


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