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.