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Come to Daddy is a stomach-churning pleasure


directed by Ant Timpson

New Zealand film festival programming provocateur Ant Timpson has finally taken up the mantle and directed his own feature, written by Toby Harvard from Timpson’s original idea. And it’s just as weird, wild and entertaining as expected.

LA-based DJ Norval (a superlative Elijah Wood, a long way from Hobbiton) turns up on the backwoods doorstep of his 25-year estranged father, seeking at least an understanding of why his dad walked out all those years ago. But their already rocky reunion soon goes spectacularly badly.

Read more: The surprising inspiration behind Kiwi director Ant Timpson's Come to Daddy

The less you know of the plot the better, but the key selling points of the frequently funny and queasily titled Come to Daddy are the film’s enjoyable performances, including The Portrait of a Lady’s Martin Donovan and our own Madeleine Sami, delightfully deadpan as Gladys the local coroner. But Wood’s charismatic kookiness centres the story, as monk-haired, mustachioed Norval finds himself thrown from one shocking predicament to the next. There are plenty of outrageous set-pieces of blood-splattering cringe, interspersed with truthfully acted scenes of real pathos.

It’s all set to a gorgeous score by local soundtrack supremo Karl Steven, who evokes the classic movie music of Lalo Schifrin and Bernard Herrmann.

Timpson’s love of genre also plays a familiar tune, and it’s his ability to surprise – as well as gross out – his audience that makes Come to Daddy an agreeably stomach-churning pleasure.



Video: Umbrella Entertainment

This article was first published in the March 7, 2020 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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