“COME TO DADDY”
Rated R. On Amazon.
Elijah Wood sports a black moustache in Amazon’s intriguingly bizarre horror comedy “Come to Daddy,” which streams Saturday.
The ’stache is an obviously effort to make the preternaturally young-looking Wood, now 39 (!), more mature.
His Norval Greenwood is a bit odd, extremely polite and sheltered, and arrives in a remote wooded paradise, answering the invitation to visit the father (Stephen McHattie) he hasn’t seen since he was an infant.
Dad, it’s quickly established, is a volatile drunken mix of aggression and indifference. “Why did you write that letter asking me to come?” Norval wonders.
All too soon Dad has worked himself into a murderous fury and just as we expect things to get really violent, he drops dead. A heart attack.
When first the cop, then the coroner arrive, “Daddy” slides into its quirky, very offbeat, really strange reality. New Zealand director Ant Timpson’s original story, working from Toby Harvard’s screenplay, at this point enters what clearly seems an adaptation of Joseph Campbell’s classic hero odyssey.
Norval, left alone in the remote house, begins to hear noises, perhaps voices. Is there a ghost? There is his dad’s body with eyes wide open, lying next to him.
The coroner has explained there’s a storage problem at her end, so after being embalmed Dad’s remains must remain at the house until they can be shipped to California, where Norval’s mother lives in Beverly Hills.
But the noises — a slight spoiler here — aren’t supernatural and almost immediately “Daddy” becomes for Norval a series of increasingly incredible and incredibly violent tasks to overcome if he’s to stay alive.
There’s a reason Dad was so brusque, there’s a reason why Norval was summoned halfway around the world. And as Norval finds himself venturing forth, “Daddy” has shockingly explicit violence, torture and demented comedy with an emphasis on gruesomely vivid attacks on male genitalia.
Wood, of course, has been on this kind of epic hero’s journey before as Frodo Baggins in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Norval and Frodo both share pluck and luck.
As “Daddy” morphs into a Scorsese-styled murderous landscape, the standouts are Martin Donovan (“Weeds”), whose Brian is full of all sorts of shocking surprises, and Mexico’s Ona Grauer, who makes Precious the kind of really scary working woman you never, ever want to make angry.
Graphic nudity, strong violence, sexual content and adult language make “Come to Daddy” an R-rated exercise.