COME TO DADDY **** Canada / New Zealand / Ireland / USA 2019 Dir: Ant Timpson. 93 mins
Elijah Wood’s eclectic adult career chalks up another compelling, unsympathetic character in the feature directing debut for well-known producer Ant Timpson (DEATHGASM, TURBO KID); he also co-wrote the script with THE GREASY STRANGLER’s Toby Harvard, carrying over some of that film’s eccentric observational humour and caustic dialogue.
A beguiling, violent black comedy, it has Wood sporting an unflattering moustache / bowl haircut / polo neck jumper combo as a suicidal alcoholic in his mid-30’s who name drops about his (obviously failed) career in the music business and reunites with his long-estranged dad (Stephen McHattie) at a beach-front property resembling a 1960’s UFO. A coarse and mean-spirited drunk himself, McHattie unleashes a torrent of insults (“You’re a rat-fucker, you stuff rats up your vagina!”) before the film heads in an entirely different direction. This fabulously unpleasant father-son reunion shifts into an alarming story of Wood’s breakdown, surrounded by Hitchcockian stuffed animals and galvanised by the actor’s superb portrait of an unattractive compulsive liar who never got over his absentee-daddy issues.
A midpoint plot turn involves a splendidly nasty Michael Smiley, a captive Martin Donovan and a shit-covered pen, before an unpredictable second half probably influenced by the escalating, gruesome absurdity of FARGO. Harvard’s fondness for off-beam dialogue, one-liners and colourfully unpleasant characters (note the self-described “tittyholic” motel manager) is well served, as is his penchant for gallows humour and random ultra-violence. COME TO DADDY’s greatest gift to the movie world, however, is what should be remembered as the year’s finest one-liner: “I lost my erection because, from certain angles, she reminded me of Michael Heseltine”
Review by Steven West