Capsule Review – Come to Daddy (Sydney Film Fest 2019)

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The timing for me watching this film could not be any more fitting. I will not reveal the film I watched before this, but some of the plot mechanics between the two are surprisingly similar. In either case, Ant Timpson‘s horror comedy Come to Daddy is a flawed, yet satisfying feature film debut, that is appropriately demented, blackly humourous, grisly and surprisingly poignant.

The cast, full of genre regulars, are all on the money here, as they know what the material is and play along with the gonzo feel. Elijah Wood is convincingly wired and taciturn as our lead character Norval while supporting actors like Stephen McHattie, Martin Donavan and Michael Smiley are all having fun with their pantomime performances as the men that interfere with Norval’s life. It’s a shame that Madeleine Sami is given the short shrift as the paramedic, since she steals the film when she shows up, allows a nice respite from the predominantly male cast and lends more depth to her character than the script allows.

The script is written by Toby Howard (who co-wrote The Greasy Strangler) and while the twists and humour are certainly appreciated (especially when things are toxic and passive-aggressive), the violence tends to overwhelm the film leading to a draggy third act, where it should have more of the weirdness and gonzo feel of Strangler. But the film recovers nicely with a touching ending that pays off the emotional threads and foreshadowing of the father and son relationship in a satisfyingly twisted manner.

Come to Daddy is not a great feature film directorial debut for Ant Timpson, but it certainly hints of great things to come; and that’s all we really should ask for in directorial debuts, right?



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