Essentially, Mortimer has delivered a classic good versus evil tale while posing serious questions about mental illness in modern society. Interestingly, it’s the doctor who, despite good intentions, opens the door for Daniel to return into Luke’s life and wreak havoc. Would Luke have peacefully gone about his bland life if not for the doctor, or would his extreme anxiety led him down a similar path? Can we ever truly purge the demons of our past that haunt us through our lives?
Of course, this is all told in an entertaining style that blends elements of the Phantasm and Hellraiser franchises with the split personality battle of Fight Club and sardonic humor of Drop Dead Fred. It’s thoroughly engrossing, entertaining, and a lot of fun from beginning to end.
“…thoroughly engrossing, entertaining and a lot of fun…”
The cast has a lot to do with it, too. Robbins turns in a simply stellar performance as a timid young man becoming completely unhinged. Schwarzenegger perfectly plays off of him as the maniacal voice in his head determined to steer him down a path of destruction like the bad angel in old cartoons. Together, they make acting look easy. The supporting cast is also strong, particularly Mary Stuart Masterson, as Luke’s suffering mother and Sasha Lane as the love interest who sees Luke through Daniel’s domination.
We all have that voice, that urge, that demon in our heads that tries to get us to ruin good relationships and make bad life choices. For some, it drowns out the other voice urging us not to give in. We are all Luke struggling to defeat our Daniels.
Daniel Isn’t Real premiered in New York as part of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival programming.