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Review: Elijah Wood and ‘Come to Daddy’ exploit its gross-out horror to the fullest

Elijah Wood in the movie ‘Come to Daddy’
Elijah Wood in the movie “Come to Daddy.”
(Daniel Katz / Saban Films)

The best movie twists — like the ones in “Psycho,” “The Crying Game” and “Parasite” — aren’t just unexpected; they also change the direction and meaning of the story. Director Ant Timpson’s blackly comic thriller “Come to Daddy” isn’t in the same elite class as those films, but it does deliver a good, sick twist, and sometimes that’s enough.

Elijah Wood stars as the nebbishy Norval Greenwood, a Beverly Hills hipster who treks deep into the Oregon wilderness to meet the father who left when Norval was a small child. What’s meant to be a tearful reunion starts awkwardly, then turns tense … and then violent.

It would spoil the movie to reveal what happens next, but suffice to say that Norval learns what his pop’s been doing for the last 30 or so years, and the dangerous characters he’s been doing it with. After a leisurely paced first half, “Come to Daddy” roars to life down the stretch, zipping between bizarre, bloody set pieces.

The “Come to Daddy” screenplay was penned by Toby Harvard, who’s perhaps best known for the cult oddity “The Greasy Strangler” (Timpson and Wood were producers). This film is similarly inclined toward gross-out gags and crude shocks.

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But there’s a point to all the muck and mayhem. The big mid-movie twist doesn’t just jolt the audience, it also shatters Norval, who learns the truth about just what — and who — has been sacrificed to provide him with a life of comfort. By the end, “Come to Daddy” becomes an exploitation film about exploitation.

'Come to Daddy'
Rated: R, for strong violence, language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 7, Alamo Drafthouse, Los Angeles; the Frida Cinema, Santa Ana; also on VOD


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