Oliver (Matt Campanella) is a male dominatrix, and as the title implores, the young man has Daddy issues. He’s not the only one, though, because Daddy (David Kelsey) has issues too. So the complexities must converge, and ultimately the presentation must unravel. At that point, issues are going to be the last thing you have with this amusing five minute short by directors Campanella and Stephanie Chloé Hepner.
Coming out of black, Oliver looks the part. He’s got the eye liner, the lipstick and the leather get-up to complete the picture. Campanella’s also applying the method. “Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up,” he hones his lines. In turn, Campanella’s rehearsal implies that he needs to get into character, and it’s just an act.
But when Oliver opens his voicemail, we see that Daddy probably isn’t the issue. Overbearing in her insistence for obedience and attention, the shrill Maria Carrozza exudes as mom could drive one to drink or engage in violence.
Shut the fuck up for sure, and time to punch in, a client on deck has Campanella switching gears. A calm prevails and reveals the necessity that the job provides.
Oliver is now entrenched in a character that gives him the release he needs to navigate the world outside. No doubt the darkened dungeon setting that Nicholas Kalajdzic sets up with his cinematographic framing properly establishing the realm too.
Of course, Dad must enter the picture, and we learn his issues complement Oliver’s. So two sides of the same sadomasochist coin, the discourse they engage in becomes a race to the bottom.
At the same time, the accompanying score also helps set the tone. The melody is a foreboding violin piece with agents of evil chiming in with Gregorian chants, and all together, the tune would feel right at home in The Omen or The Exorcist. Thus, the unholy nature of the whole endeavor makes it sound like Satan himself is getting a pretty good laugh at this family dynamic.
Nonetheless, each tries to gain the upper hand, and we understand the issues at the heart are not new. Dad berates son for never having any career or life focus, and Kelsey’s condescension reeks with the tall walls of his Ivy League education. In turn, Oliver decries a dad who is a lacking, self-centered father and Campanella twists the knife with a sarcasm that mirrors undeserved entitlement.
The aggrieved son and the disappointed father are played to perfection and creates a juxtaposition that their characters don’t even notice. The familiar back and forth takes place under the umbrella of a shared sexual deviation and their inability to see the oddity of their ways, will have you laughing until it hurts.
In the end, they are left to face the realization of their off-the-wall lives and Daddy Issues does not diverge from its comedic base. Oliver’s final line is as commonplace as could be, but plays as a deadpan that accepts that nothing. . . will ever be normal again.