The last time genre film-maker Adam Egypt Mortimer was at Frightfest, it was in support of his unfairly maligned supernatural horror movie, Some Kind of Hate. Returning to the crowds who refused to applaud him is a bold move, but Mortimer has reason to be confident this time around; his latest movie, Daniel Isn’t Real, is a barnstorming triumph.
Miles Robbins, hitherto known predominantly as a comedic actor save for Halloween 2018, in which he also played kind of a humorous role, stars as Luke, a troubled young man with an imaginary friend named, you guessed it, Daniel (played with lip-smacking vigor by Patrick Schwarzenegger). A mixture of violent fantasy and real-life horror story, it’s a take-notice showcase for all involved.
Mortimer shows more depth here than with Some Kind of Hate, which was criticized (including by this writer) for its inappropriate treatment of mental health. Daniel Isn’t Real, in vast contrast, offers a subtler, more considered take, thanks both to Robbins’ committed performance and his director’s keen eye for a shocking image that, here, is disturbingly beautiful rather than uncomfortable.
The Frightfest synopsis points to the movie’s unflinching portrayal of a young man in turmoil:
From Some Kind of Hate director Adam Egypt Mortimer, an unflinching examination of what can happen when the id, the ego, and the super-ego are all at war with each other. In this Mandy-esque slice of provocative, psychological horror, a troubled young man’s imaginary friend from childhood returns as an adult eager to indulge in darkly disturbing desires. An innovative and thought-provoking descent into madness, one pushing storytelling boundaries and delivering truly nightmarishly surreal visuals, Mortimer tackles the topic of duality with self-confidence in a mesmeric fairy tale fantasy that morphs into chilling cosmic horror.
Adam Egypt Mortimer directed and co-wrote Daniel Isn’t Real alongside Brian DeLeeuw, from whose source novel the story is adapted. Robbins and Schwarzenegger star alongside Sasha Lane, Hannah Marks, and Michael Cuomo.
Wicked Horror nabbed Mortimer for an enthusiastic, lively chat about the movie. Credit to him for coming back and being so willing and open to talk about a flick he should definitely be proud of.
Interview conducted by: Joey Keogh
Camera: Richard Waters
Editing: Richard Waters