Ant Timpson. What a name. Come to Daddy. What a title. Timpson’s directorial debut doesn’t exactly live up to its B-movie heading or his own oddball name, but it’s certainly good to see Elijah Wood headlining a movie again. Though initially poised to be an intriguing clash of generational sensibilities, between a privileged Millennial in Wood’s ineffectual son and a gruff, isolated Boomer father played by Stephen McHattie, the film eventually casts aside thematic weight in favor of gore, grimy villains, and pointless criminal machinations. McHattie’s skeevy old man is no father of his, he’s merely a squatter for his lowlife friends who have imprisoned the real father (Martin Donovan) in an underground bunker beneath his lake house. From there it’s a race to prevent Dad’s former partners from killing the both of them and possibly pilfering the unseen mother’s Beverly Hills mansion.
It’s mildly diverting watching Wood’s Norval (what a name again!) skulk around a big house and later a balmy motel with a nary a clue about how to defend himself. Given the lack of a discernible character arc, it’s also frankly annoying watching him fail to grasp every situation like some helpless puppy. Of course, he’s somehow able to maim and kill each kidnapper at some point, despite no investment in character work to discover why he’s suddenly up to the challenge. Wood, McHattie, and Donovan are sometimes up to the challenge of distracting us from such things, from the good, the bad, and the ugly, but there’s a helluva lot of ugly. Come to Daddy is ultimately an unpleasant film, no matter how fitfully entertaining at times. It’s a film content to include one extreme close-up of a shoe squishing a used condom, and for no other reason than shock value. Come for Elijah Wood. Otherwise, don’t come to Daddy.