Come to Daddy follows a man (Elijah Wood) who visits his estranged father (Stephen McHattie) in his rural house on a beach after a receiving a letter of invitation from him. It soon becomes clear that something is off with his father and the whole situation and there is an ever-present feeling that the man's life might be in danger.
Come to Daddy Review
Elijah Wood has established himself as a champion of indie horror and Stephen McHattie ensured a place in my heart with his performance in Pontypool. So a movie starring the two of them sounds like a match made in heaven, and it is. There's this perfect blend of insanity and clarity, awkwardness and tension, violence and comedy...elements that have followed the two actors throughout their careers in recent memory, and they take their veteran experience and put it to good use.
This film is certainly carried by its acting, particularly in the first half of the film before the action ramps up. Personally, I think that's where the film truly shines. The bizarre nature of the events, atmosphere and characters drive your interest before reveals start to drop. These reveals are enticing as well, but once the pacing deviates from a verbal cat-and-mouse game to a physical one, that unsettling charm fades just a tad into a more traditional, if still humorously awkward, thriller.
While a film like this that never truly takes itself seriously (it feels purposefully off-balance like a Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Wrong) movie), I still have trouble excusing the massive deus ex machina-turned-macguffin preceding the climax that allows are final act to take place the way it does. It was eye-rolling, but I couldn't decide if that eye-roll was worthy of disgust or a chuckle. I mean, to this point the movie hasn't exactly presented a realistic structure. And the ridiculousness of the situation in question is somewhat hilarious by how it is abruptly discussed between two characters (I'm trying to stay vague while still make a point, I apologize). But I think even within the realm of a movie that doesn't follow many conventional rules, it was still just too downright stupid to appreciate.
The rest of the film, however, is a fun time. Well, a disgusting, violent, perverse fun time that demands the sacrifice of a few winces and groans to get through. The over-the-top and sometimes nonsensical nature of it does give it a unique personality that doesn't get old, but it also strikes this weird balance of being wholly enjoyable and yet lacking the boast of rewatchability.
I can't say enough for Wood and McHattie and the production's commitment and courage to tell a story in a crazy, weird, awkward, gross way. The entire thing is an experience that speaks to the dynamic of estranged parent/child relationships, but then goes off the deep end into blissful absurdity. It's worth a watch for most fans of the strange and dark humor-infused violence, but know it takes things pretty far in spurts.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 2/10
Film Quality: 7/10