Daniel Isn’t Real, 2020, Movie Review

Daniel Isn’t Real

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer 

UK Release dates: 7th February 2020

Digital Release dates: 10th February 2020

Distributor: Arrow Films

Our Rating: ★★½

Luke is not okay

Luke (Miles Robbins), is certainly not a happy child. We see Luke making a swift exit from his home as a young child, to avoid the argument his parents are having. It is clear from the get-go, this home is not a happy home, he heads down the block, to witness the aftermath of a mass, seemingly random, shooting in a diner. He then meets Daniel, lovely friendly Daniel, who takes him to play. Luke’s mum comes to find Luke and scolds him for running off, she demands him back home, Luke insists on bringing Daniel aswell. This is where we learn, that only Luke can see Daniel. Daniel, well Daniel is a very naughty boy.

Escalating madness

After a particularly nasty incident involving his mother and some pills, Luke locks Daniel away in an old dolls house and proceeds to grow up. He is now away at school and his mother has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He is quite clearly an unhappy young man, suffering with his mental health. When he was growing up, Daniel gave Luke a friend, someone to rely on, however now, now Daniel is older and he wants to have a different kind of fun.

The ID and the Ego 

Daniel (grown-up Daniel is played by Patrick Schwarzenegger, yes of those Schwarzenegger’s!) seems to give Luke the parts that he thinks he is missing, he is more confident, better at talking to girls, more outgoing. He pushes him to take risks and to venture out of his comfort zone. He is full of that chaotic evil energy, he doesn’t always seek to destroy, but there are grey areas that get particularly dark. Daniel creeps around Luke like a twisted shadow. Viewers are encouraged to question what is real and what is reality. Is Daniel just a manifestation of Luke’s own mental health conditions? Or is he something more tangible? Something more, supernatural. You’ll be left wondering for a while on that one.

A Hidden Self

All the way through Daniel Isn’t Real, Luke is asked about his ‘true self’ or his “hidden self”. The other characters are so concerned with who they portray themselves as. Are they cool, are they outgoing, there is so much pressure on the young people to fit in. They pose a good question, which parts of Luke are his real self? Is the quiet, shy, introverted Luke the real version, or is the outgoing, impulsive Daniel? Daniel lives an impulsive life, he just does what he wants to do, regardless of any consequence.


Neon drenched B movie

As smart as this movie thought it was, it still had its self firmly planted in B-Movie territory. Which is not necessarily an insult. However, it is a concept we have seen before, Daniel Isn’t Real has some impeccably strong Fight Club vibes. But with a lot more neon, synth-electronica soundtracks and more ghouls. The narrative dips its toe into psychological and theological concepts but doesn’t swim in those waters for long. It feels unsure its’self as to whether Daniel is real, or not.

With a sharp synth soundtrack, neon-lit scenes of mania it is a B-Movie for the social media generation. However, it dragged on.

I wish I could tell you it had me gripped, but it did not. It felt tropey in places like it was trying to deliver something new, wherein fact it just delivered tricks we’ve already seen a hundred times. It is a good watch, and for fans of Mandy, you will be sure to enjoy its B-Movie charm.


Where to watch Daniel Isn’t Real:

Daniel Isn’t Real will be released in UK Cinemas 7th February 2020, and on Blu-ray and Digital HD on 10th February 2020.
For cinemas visit: https://www.ourscreen.com/film/Daniel-Isnt-Real

Order via iTunes here: https://apple.co/2FugjAo

Watch the trailer:

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