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44. Daniel Isn't Real; movie review

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Title : 44. Daniel Isn't Real; movie review
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Cert 15
100 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong violence, bloody images, horror, drug misuse, sex, language

I watch so many horror movies that it is not easy to unsettle me, so hats off to Daniel Isn't Real director Adam Egypt Mortimer.
I was spooked from the moment that Daniel is introduced as the imaginary friend of Luke - his film's main character.
My premonition turned out to be spot on - Daniel is savage as a young boy but he is a crazed psychopath by the time he is an adult.
And yet he, of course, doesn't even exist - he is a personality created by the schizophrenia of a troubled young man.
Miles Robbins plays Luke who fears that he has been passed genes which will lead to a similar mental illness suffered by his mother (Mary Stuart Masterson).
This is prompted by the return of the imaginary friend in adulthood.
Actually, Luke is initially delighted with grown-up Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) because he gives him confidence with women, particularly an attractive bohemian artist (Sasha Lane).
But the longer the movie progresses, the more jealous and, ultimately, psychotic Daniel becomes.
I was keyed into Mortimer's picture because it gives clarity to what it must be like to have voices in the head.
Robbins plays Luke with great empathy, leading the audience to feel sorry for a man who wants normality but can't reach it no matter how hard he tries.
Schwarzenegger is brutal as Daniel who goes to extreme lengths to make sure Luke plays to his tune.
But don't be fooled by the first hour of the film which has the occasional violent moment but is an underplayed but compelling prelude to the horrors which are to unfold.
For the last half hour or so, surreal violence comes to the fore and I found that detracted rather than added to the mix.
Nevertheless, Daniel Isn't Real was an enthralling surprise. The little-known cast impress and Mortimer's direction gives it the requisite oomph.

Reasons to watch: Original and unsettling
Reasons to avoid: The bloody scenes

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: Yes
Nudity: Bare bum
Overall rating: 8/10

Did you know? Worldwide about one per cent of the population is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and approximately 1.2% of Americans (3.2 million) have the disorder. About 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with schizophrenia this year around the world.

The final word. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer: “Daniel's nihilistic point of view made me want to make the sort of movie that would wake people up to the danger of reality and thrill them with the scary idea that people are all one impulsive decision away from violence or true evil."

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