This episode we’re chatting with Adam Egypt Mortimer, director and co-writer of Daniel Isn’t Real, which the studio describes thus:
Daniel Isn’t Real is about a troubled college freshman Luke (Miles Robbins) who suffers a violent family trauma and resurrects his childhood imaginary friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) to help him cope. Charismatic and full of manic energy, Daniel helps Luke to achieve his dreams, before pushing him to the very edge of sanity and into a desperate struggle for control of his mind — and his soul. The film also features Mary Stuart Masterson as Luke’s mom, who suffers from mental illness, and Sasha Lane as Luke’s new artist girlfriend.
As we discuss, the concept of a childhood invisible friend coming to life might ring familiar to fans of the oddball 1991 comedy Drop Dead Fred starring Phoebe Cates. But whereas in that story, the titular Fred returned to break Phoebe out of her shell, Daniel Isn’t Real explores the fact that such an invisible friend—a manifestation of the subconscious—is by definition an incomplete person. He’s a very cool incomplete person at first—Patrick Schwarzenegger is a slick, intimidating persona compared with mild-mannered Luke—but he’s not the one who should be in charge of an actual body.
What Daniel lacks specifically is empathy. He can tell shy Luke how to talk to girls (drawing on knowledge and confidence untapped in Luke’s brain) but, as the director puts it, “[We must] choose to be empathetic…. you need to break out of repression, but if you do that without empathy, you become a demonic force.”
We chat about the film, empathy, and imaginary friends. Samuel Goldwyn Films will release the horror/thriller DANIEL ISN’T REAL in theaters, on digital and on demand December 6, 2019.
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The Team: Hosted by Jason Henderson, editor of the Castle of Horror Anthology and Young Captain Nemo, and creator of the HarperTeen novel series Alex Van Helsing.