Although this is Ant Timpson’s directorial full-length feature, he is a name that should be familiar to genre fans due to production duties on films such as Turbo Kid, The ABC’s Of Death compendiums, Deathgasm and The Greasy Strangler among others. With the exception of The Greasy Strangler which I couldn’t abide and flogged my copy of as soon as I had watched it, the others are all great and the good news is Turbo Kid 2 is under pre-production at the moment. The other fact that made this a much see is due to the involvement of Elijah Wood who goes far beyond Hobbitsville with his love of horror. He is involved in production himself on the aforementioned Greasy film as well as the love it or hate it Mandy and there is also new and upcoming films Daniel Isn’t Real and Richard Stanley’s return to form? The Color Out Of Space. He also put in a damned memorable central performance in Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac. Sure, Elijah was never going to out-sleaze the late, great Joe Spinell in William Lustig’s 1980 classic slasher but he certainly did a fantastic job and proved he was not afraid of giving it his all in the gore and grue stakes.
This brings us very much to the film in front of us and one that was in front of me at a screening in London’s favourite repertory cinema The Prince Charles the other day. I had seen the trailer but frankly had not paid proper attention as I thought this was going to be a splatter homage to films such as The Evil Dead. This proved not to be the case entirely and with the amount of twists and turns it takes nobody could really be quite sure which garden path this was leading us down. More precisely though it is a wooded path we take as Wood playing Norval Greenwood (lots of wood) traipses along to visit his long-lost father who he has not been in contact with for over 3 decades, until a letter asking for his presence arrives.
Part funded by both the New Zealand and Canadian film commissions it is the picturesque Canada that provides the setting for the scene and Norbert finds his father’s imposing clifftop manse looking like a “60’s movie spaceship” sitting on a clifftop overlooking the fabulous craggy coastline. His dad seems surprised then, absolutely delighted to see him and they start all that bonding stuff until things naturally start to go very wrong. Norval and his Pa played with great grizzled enthusiasm by Stephen McHattie don’t particularly hit it off. It quickly becomes apparent that daddy likes a bit of a drink and partly caused no doubt by abandonment issues Norval is a recovering alcoholic and suicide attempter. There’s a lot of chalk and cheese about them that could well draw parallels due to the fact that for a good portion of the film it is left to them to carry every scene to Robert Eggers cinematic headfuck The Lighthouse. The other big problem is that dad has obviously lived a life and to him (and frankly to anyone watching) Norval is pretentious and more than a little “cunty.” Before long they both find themselves living in a nightmare.
The house is also exuding a bit of a strange and haunted presence, what could its secrets be? Oh, don’t worry, you will have to watch to find out but rest assured you probably won’t be expecting them or see just where this one is going. The only other thing I will say is add to the mix the ever excellent Michael Smiley giving it a psychotic performance to go alongside the likes of Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and you have a film that once it starts showering you in bodily fluids, never lets up. There were some nervous groans and gasps from the cinema audience here and that is not surprising, no teen horror fare here, this one fully deserves the ever harder to get 18 certificate and does not compromise or seem to give a flying one just who it might offend. Of course, that makes it all the more enjoyable in my book and with lashings of gallows black humour ‘Come To Daddy’ is a riotous and gruesome thrill ride of a film. Frankly I can’t wait to see this again and will definitely be picking up the Blu-Ray at first opportunity. Yep, I managed to get to the end of the review without mentioning The Aphex Twin who is featured on the soundtrack but not with the track you probably expect. Considering nothing about this is quite what it would seem that’s probably no surprise either.
Digital HD from 21st February and DVD & Blu-ray March 2nd