New to digital and Blu-ray is Daniel Isn’t Real – a psychological horror film from director Adam Egypt Mortimer. The film – which is based on the novel, In This Way I was Saved, by Brian DeLeeuw – stars Miles Robbins, and Patrick Schwarzenegger (yep, Arnie’s son), and tells the story of an increasingly disturbed young man called Luke, and his imaginary friend.
To explain more about the story would be to do the film a disservice. In fact, the less you know about Daniel Isn’t Real, the better.
So, what can I say about this film?
Firstly, I really liked it. Daniel Isn’t Real takes the subject of mental health and wraps it around some traditional horror themes (which I won’t spoil here) to deliver an intriguing narrative.
While at first glance the movie appears to be pretty standard stuff, as the story progresses it becomes quite clear there is something more interesting going on. In fact, Daniel Isn’t Real contains some strong ideas that show some real potential.
But it isn’t just the story that sells this picture, the movie also boasts excellent performances from both Robbins and Schwarzenegger as the two main characters. Robbins in particular is the film’s biggest asset and he’s certainly an actor to keep an eye on.
With supporting roles in Blockers, Halloween 2018 and the final season of The X-Files (he played Mulder & Scully’s teenage son), Robbins is making some good career choices, and it’s great to see him taking centre stage. In the role of Luke, he becomes the true driving force of this picture – a tortured soul and a strong focal point for the story.
The movie’s other big sell is that the more it reveals, the more it draws you in. So long as you stick with this film and don’t switch off early, you will be rewarded for your patience.
Does everything in Daniel Isn’t Real work? No. It is fair to say at times the film is a little rough around the edges.
The effects work highlights the limitations of the budget and its a real shame. In my opinion, had this film been given more money to play with, it could have taken some of its ideas to a new level, and perhaps taken a few more risks.
The only other weak point is that the first half of the movie is a little slow and could have easily been trimmed by a good ten minutes to quicken the pace. However, once the film hits the mid-point, the story really begins to ramp up a gear, and the second half delivers.
Overall, Daniel Isn’t Real is a smart horror film perfect for those looking for something different in their collection. It won’t work for everyone, and it does have issues, but if you can overlook its flaws you will like what’s on offer.
The Daniel Isn’t Real Blu-ray edition includes an array of special features, including an alternate ending, deleted scenes, a video interview, Q&A, a director’s commentary and more.
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