You know you are in for a bonkers ride when a film opens with quotes relating to fatherhood from Shakespeare and Beyoncé. Two figures you would hardly place in the same literary class when it comes to their views on life. However, this mix of classic and contemporary sums up New Zealand director Ant Timpson’s debut feature ‘Come to Daddy’. Where classic comedy horror dovetails with a father/son reunion from hell. In a film that is not only incredibly dark and funny, but also deliciously different. Its narrative split into three distinct acts that may have some viewers scratching their heads in confusion. As the darkly comic thriller of the first act descends into the madness of the second and cartoon inspired horror of the third.
Norval (Elijah Wood) is a troubled thirty-something recovering from an unhealthy relationship with alcohol while living with his mother. His pretentious DJ lifestyle hiding his insecurity and fear of the world around him with designer clothes and a less than flattering haircut. His life haunted by a father who disappeared when he was just a young child, with no contact since. Until that is, a mysterious letter arrives from his long lost dad, inviting him to meet after 30 years apart at his secluded beachside house.
Having arrived by bus, Norval finds himself trekking across beaches and woodland before finally finding his fathers home. A ramshackle but stylish UFO shaped construction hanging from the cliffs edge. However, Norval receives no warm welcome on arrival, with his gruff alcohol soaked father (Stephen McHattie) insulting him at every turn. Even ‘accidentally’ dropping Norval’s gold encrusted mobile phone off the cliff when taking a photo. With each and every insult and jibe leading Norval to wonder why he made the journey.
As Norval’s anger simmers and his last drops of any respect vanish, he decides he must either challenge his fathers behaviour or leave. A decision that leads to heated arguments, threats of violence and a heart stopping conclusion.
Ant Timpson then smartly pulls the rug from under your feet, in a deliciously dark comedic moment. One that leaves you wondering what could possibly come next as the atmosphere of his film dramatically shifts into macabre humour. Ultimately providing the roadmap for what is to come as the film swerves from comedy to comic book horror and family drama. Each twist and turn deliciously performed by a cast who understand the genre-bending absurdity of every moment. While cinematographer Daniel Katz (My Friend Dahmer) layers each scene in vibrant colour and deep blacks. Elevating and punctuating laugh out loud moments of comedy, with far more grisly blood soaked horror.
As a debut feature Come to Daddy is both brave, bonkers and beautiful. With Ant Timpson and lead writer Toby Harvard creating a dark comedy that sings with devilish charm. While taking its audience on what can only be described as random and unpredictable rollercoaster ride. With the resulting journey not appealing to every passenger. But delighting of those who enjoy being thrown about and left hanging upsidedown.
Director: Ant Timpson