BLU-RAY, VOD | CERT: 15 | DIRECTOR: ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER | SCREENPLAY: ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER & BRIAN DELEEUW | STARRING: MILES ROBBINS, PATRICK SCHWARZENEGGER, SASHA LANE, HANNAH MARKS, MARY STUART MASTERSON | RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 10TH
After suffering a violent family trauma, college freshman Luke decides to resurrect his imaginary childhood friend to help him cope with his everyday anxiety. Charismatic, peppy, and often manipulative, Daniel helps Luke come out of his shell and gain the life he’s always wanted. Unfortunately, things begin to take a turn for the worse as what started as a promising ‘friendship’ soon descends into a nightmarish fight for his very own sanity.
Based on the novel In This Way I Was Saved by Brian Deleeuw, Daniel Isn’t Real is a stylish psychological horror that’s bursting with ingenuity from start to finish. Boasting a talented young cast and strong performances throughout, Adam Egypt Mortimer has done an incredible job at the helm to this ‘new-retro’ horror. Instead of feeling like a pastiche of the past, Mortimer has been able to use familiar horror tropes whilst injecting new life to a tried and tested formula. Combining Chris Clark’s atmospheric score with Lyle Vincent’s stunning cinematography, Daniel Isn’t Real succeeds in creating a flashy alternative to a genre that has been plagued by cattleprod cinema.
When it comes to the performances, Miles Robbins flourishes in the role of Luke, switching from vulnerable loner to suave romancer with ease. His slow descent into madness is never overplayed, and his talents in front of the camera are clear for all to see. Patrick Schwarzenegger portrays the devilish Daniel with much restraint while still being able to brood with authoritative flare at all the right moments. His cool and confident demeanour is the perfect embodiment of a man who’s willing to take risks at whatever the cost. When relations sour, both actors are able to let loose in what’s an entertaining and thoroughly thrilling finale.
Although some may find issues with its portrayal of mental illness, it’s clear to see that there’s something far more sinister at work. In a society where everything is a hot topic, Daniel Isn’t Real is able to take a well-used horror device and keep it fresh for a whole new audience without ever being disrespectful. Containing a great story with some ambitious, practical effects, Mortimer been able to craft an imaginative film that harks back to ‘80s horror. A refreshing palate cleanser from the generic horror films that have dominated the cinemas in recent years, Daniel Isn’t Real is a breath of fresh air that’ll surely gain a cult following in years to come. Strong performances, a solid script and innovative direction help make this film a must-watch amongst horror enthusiasts.