SYNOPSIS: Shortly after comic artist Adam (Augustus Prew) responds to Internet trolls, he begins experiencing sleep paralysis — while an empty rocking chair moves in the corner of his apartment. As he chronicles increasingly malevolent occurrences in a series of tweets, Adam begins to believe he is being haunted by the ghost of a dead child named David. Encouraged by his boss to continue the “Dear David” thread, Adam starts to lose his grip on what is online…and what is real. Based on the viral Twitter thread by BuzzFeed comic artist Adam Ellis.
Director John McPhail and screenwriter Mike Van Waes had the tricky job of taking Adam Ellis‘ real-life viral Twitter feed and translating it for the big screen. If you don’t know the “Dear David” story, let me sum it up. Cartoonist Adam Ellis starts to document the haunting of his apartment. Things get weirder each night, culminating in photographs of this little boy with a caved-in skull dropping onto Adam’s bed. It was truly terrifying reading the thread. I remember sweating as the incidents became creepier and more intense. It was an honest-to-goodness viral moment. This week, DEAR DAVID moves from small screens to movie screens, and the results are mostly comparable.
In his supporting role, scream king Justin Long is Buzzfeed’s deliciously douchey editor. You love to hate him. But the film hinges on the likeability and overall effectiveness of Augustus Prew as Adam. Prew does a fantastic job of charming us. He is relatable in a way that caught me off guard. I can only imagine Adam Ellis being proud of his portrayal regardless of how accurate it is to real life.
The film boasts amazingly timed jump scares. Let’s give a brilliant slow clap for editors David Arthur and Glenn Garland. The script is especially relevant in our ongoing age of vitriolic online engagement. It is also a mystery wrapped in a horror movie, using a personal connection about self-worth. If you know the Dear David canon, it might be better to separate the two. Did I shout with glee when the original “David” drawing appeared? Yup. If I’m being entirely honest, the climax feels a touch hokey, but the final scene brings some redemption. DEAR DAVID is inarguably intriguing. I needed to know how McPhail would expand upon the genuinely disturbing origin material, so there’s no denying I was along for the ride. Genre fans will eat this up.
Terror Goes Viral
Lionsgate will distribute the horror film DEAR DAVID in select Theaters, On Digital and On Demand on October 13th which is a co-production by Lionsgate and Buzzfeed Studios.
The film stars Augustus Prew (“The Morning Show”), Andrea Bang (“A Million Little Things”), Rene Escobar Jr. (Neon Lights), Cameron Nicoll (Slumberland) and Justin Long (Barbarian). The film was co-produced by BuzzFeed Studios and directed by John McPhail (Anna and the Apocalypse). The film was written by Mike Van Waes in his feature film debut based on a story by Waes and Evan Turner (The Out-Laws).