Come to Daddy was, far and away, my favorite film from the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. It’s a dark horror comedy that’s equal parts Evil Dead and Hitchcock. It takes place in a remote Canadian cabin on a beach, where Norville (Elijah Wood) goes to see his long lost father after many years of not speaking. Elijah Wood and Stephen McHattie, who plays an iteration of the “Daddy” in the title, joined director Ant Timpson and me for a great conversation that starts off on the film and then derails a bit to talk about old horror movies. This is one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever had. Something you won’t be able to tell from reading this is that Elijah Wood has the best laugh I’ve ever heard, and from someone who is often told they have the best laugh, Elijah, you should know this is the highest form of praise.
Anyway, our conversation goes as follows:
Do you guys have decent relationships with your dads?
Stephen McHattie: How do you define decent?
Ant Timpson: Yeah, well, mine’s in the film kind of. It’s based on me living with my dad’s corpse for five days in a house as part of a grieving process, wearing his clothes, going down and checking on him at night and meeting people from his past that I didn’t know and they had an alternative history of my dad. Ruminating on that and having a surreal week and then wanting to do something about that. Thinking “life is short, I’ve gotta start directing,” which I had started off doing years—decades ago. So that was the impetus, the push. I wanted to create a film that he would love, that dad would love, and he loved dark comedy thrillers and character-based stuff. So I went to the writer (Toby Harvard) and said “here’s the structure, here’s the idea, and if you can write a script using this as a script, go for it” We both have similar taste, and he knew the kind of films I was talking about, he went away—BANG—came back and we had a great first draft. I made sure it was in shape to show others, and I showed it to Elijah straight away because we had him in mind while we were writing. It was like a dream idea of someone who would be amazing as Norville.
Elijah Wood: It was awesome for me that I could do it. I was so excited.