Those who enjoy their horror with a good dose of paranoid thrills, creature effects and trippy visuals are going to have a great deal of fun with Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Daniel Isn’t Real, a horror flick with its eye on 80’s body horror and all the pulp that comes dripping with it.
Miles Robbins stars as Luke, a college student who keeps himself to himself, often bound to anxiety attacks as he attempts to balance college life with the responsibility of caring for his mentally ill mother (Mary Stuart Masterson). When his mother is taken to hospital, Luke finds himself alone and reverts to calling upon his old imaginary friend, Daniel (Patrick Schwarzengger), who he has subconsciously kept locked away since a disturbing event in his childhood. Having Daniel back by his side soon boosts Luke’s confidence, improving his social life as a result. However, it soon becomes clear that Daniel may not be all that he seems, with his influence fuelled by a darker motivation than Luke can possibly imagine.
Daniel Isn’t Real walks that very fine tightrope between treating a story concerning mental illness with a level of empathy, all the while also delivering a grisly and often disturbing horror movie at the same time. It sometimes trips on that tightrope as Luke slowly loses more and more control over Daniel’s influence on him, but for the most part, Mortimer finds a way to balance a tricky subject whilst also crafting a horror experience that has a clear adoration for the squelchy video nasties of the 1980s.
Full review over at VultureHound, originally published February 5th 2020.