Director Ant Timpson’s Come to Daddy is more of a thriller first and then a dark comedy, with elements of off-the-wall banter by Gordon (Stephen McHattie) and Norval (Elijah Wood). Right from the start, you can tell that time has passed both characters by, leaving many questions and very, very few answers. There are some plot twists and oddball characters showing up from time to time, such as Jethro, played by Michael Smiley (The Hallow), Ronald Plum, played by Garfield Wilson, (Vendetta), and Gladys, played by Madeleine Sami (The Breaker Upperers). As the film jettisons the viewer back and forth with plot twist after plot twist, there literally isn’t enough time to comprehend the film. Once you think you have…well, something else happens, and you’re thrust into a new direction that catches you off guard.
Norval receives a letter from his father, Gordon, who left Norval and his mother when he was five years old. Norval travels to a remote bungalow that is nestled in a reclusive area of Oregon with the idea of reconnecting with his father. He also wants some of his questions answered, primarily, why his father left.
Through a number of bizarre exchanges, both Norval and Gordon seemingly can’t find common ground. His dad, a raging alcoholic, and Norval, a recovering alcoholic, continue this one-up game through the first portion of the film. After a huge fight between the two, Gordon has an abrupt and fatal heart attack and dies. After Norval communicates to this mother that this happened, he decides to stay in his father’s house. He tries to process what to do with the body and has trouble returning the corpse to his mother.
After a while, Norval begins to hear haunting sounds coming from somewhere in the house. Thinking that it’s his deceased father, Norval relapses and begins to question his own sanity. Finally coming to his senses, Norval seeks out the sound and discovers that it’s coming from a hidden room under the house. After further investigation, he comes face to face with his real father, David (Martin Donovan). David proceeds to tell Norval that he must help him escape, and no matter what, Norval must kill anyone that he comes into contact with to save himself and his father. David explains what actually happened. He tells him about how he ran to Bangkok, kidnapping the daughter of the wealthiest man in Thailand and held her for a large sum of money. After succeeding at acquiring the ransom, David ran off with the money and was then held captive.
In the event of trying to help his father, Norval comes face to face with Jethro, who Norval attempts to kill. He escapes and vows revenge on Norval and his father. Not realizing the danger he’s now in, Norval helps his father escape. Once upstairs and planning their escape, Dandy, one of the men involved with the kidnapping, enters and attempts to kill Norval, though perishing with a number of stabbings to the groin with a barbecue fork and then being suffocated by plastic wrap.
Jethro returns and finds no one there, not knowing that Norval was advised by his father to take refuge in the trunk of Jethro’s car. Riding back to a seedy motel in the trunk of the car, Norval steals the motel keys and a check spindle and then slashes the tires on Jethro’s car, while Jethro is inside with a prostitute engaging in some wild BDSM play. Entering the room next to Jethro’s, he tries to kill Jethro. Norval is unsuccessful and is placed into a headlock by the prostitute and is repeatedly stabbed by Jethro with the very check spindle that Norval stole in the first place. Leaving him for dead, along with the terrified prostitute, Jethro runs.
Inside the room, Norval appears to still be alive, even after the vicious attack and makes his way outside of the room, only to find that Jethro has crashed his car into a tree, almost decapitating him. Discovering this, Norval then decides to finish Jethro off with the check spindle, though before doing so, Jethro tells him the truth about Norval’s mother. He finds out that his mother was a prostitute herself and was sleeping with both Jethro and David. Norval, after hearing this, plunges the check spindle into the exposed portion of Jethro’s brain, killing him. Before Jethro dies, he shouts in his last breath, “Arthur”.
Wounded and bloody, Norval makes his way back, on foot, mind you, to the house and collapses next to his father on the lakeshore. He apologizes and the intimate moment is sealed with Norval’s father touching his son’s hand.
Elijah Wood was actually not bad, and Stephen McHattie was priceless, until he died…sadly. Come to Daddy had all the twists and turns of a great psychological thriller, but opted for the comedy/thriller approach. I found myself at times wishing the film would end, while at other times shaking my head at the outlandish goofy characters that arose throughout. I’m not saying Come to Daddy was horrible, but it could have been a little shorter. Since the film went with more of the comedy/thriller approach, I felt that they should have dipped into the Coen Brothers’ wellspring and added a small dose of that style to liven things up a bit.
Follow HorrOrigins Social Media Pages