At first glance, Daniel Isn’t Real should have been a disaster. Quick edits, standard tropes, stereotypes… there are countless things that could make taken this movie down a very different path, and be worse for it.
Thankfully, due to direction by Adam Egypt Mortimer and top-notch performances from the entire cast, Daniel Isn’t Real offers up a compelling and often disturbing horror film that will take you to the abyss and back in the best possible way.
Luke is a lonely, isolated child, but it is not until his mother, Claire (Mary Stuart Masterson) and father split up, do things take a turn for the worse. As young Luke walks the streets, he witnesses a suicide, and it is here we are introduced to Daniel, Luke’s ‘imaginary’ friend. Claire at first indulges Luke, playing along with the concept of Daniel being a living part of his life, but things eventually turn messy, and Luke is forced to toss away childhood whimsy and actually give up ‘imaginary’ friends.
Years later, Luke (Miles Robbins) is still moody but now grown up into a precocious young adult, attending university but still acting like a loner. With his mother suffering some undisclosed mental ailment, Luke is worried he will soon suffer the same fate. So with this in mind, when Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) makes a comeback in Luke’s life, things quickly change for him in ways he never imagined.