With over a decade of experience as a producer under his belt, Ant Timpson made a terrifying leap into the director’s chair with Come to Daddy, a twisty genre-bender premiering in Tribeca tonight, calling on the talents of Elijah Wood to bring his vision to life.
A lover of genre films, Wood first met Timpson in the early 2000s, at one of many wrap parties for The Lord of the Rings, recognizing him as someone who shared his sensibility, as well as his love of cinema. After working together in 2016 as producers of memorable Sundance title The Greasy Strangler, the pair partnered to tell a story that came from a more personal place.
A comedic horror-thriller, Come to Daddy centers on Norval (Wood), a “musician/DJ/fashionista” who has been estranged from his father for 30 years, when a letter arrives in the mail. Agreeing to reunite with his dear old dad at his cabin near the sea, Norval soon finds he’s in over his head, as a family reunion devolves into something far more bizarre.
Scripted by Toby Harvard based on Timpson’s idea, the film was inspired by the director’s own unsettling experience. “I’d gone through this weird thing with my dad, who died. I ended up spending five days in the house with his corpse,” he shared, sitting down at Deadline’s Tribeca Studio with Wood. “I thought it was very cathartic, and very emotional and spiritual and everything, but also just f*cked up and weird.”
After processing his loss, Timpson felt “a huge shove towards making something more permanent, and thought, I want to make a film for my dad that…could end up the type of film I’d watched as a kid with him.”
For Wood, it’s important to emphasize that the film is far funnier than it sounds. While Timpson based the pic on a genuinely painful experience, he leaned in to “great black humor” with his debut, rather than let it become a “depressing, maudlin” affair.
The director’s explicit goal with the film was to subvert audience expectations at every turn, so that they’d never know what was coming. “What was so enticing about the script is that it does almost change every 15 minutes,” Wood noted. “Everywhere you think it’s going to go, it subverts your expectations, and it goes somewhere else.”
Come to Daddy premieres tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, screening at the SVA Theater at 9:30 PM. For more from our conversation with the pic’s director and star, click above.
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