Dear David Review

Dear David
Dear David
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There are many ways movie concepts can be generated: A novel, a dream, a family anecdote, or a historic battle. Tusk by Kevin Smith for instance started as a podcast joke. Although not the first major motion picture based on a Twitter thread (which will be 2020’s Zola), Dear David is the first scary movie to be born from the microblogging site that is now X. However, this will not go down in history as the maiden horror Twitter-thread film.

Some background information: Adam Ellis who worked as a BuzzFeed staff and web cartoonist claimed he was being haunted by the ghost of another young boy named Dear David and shared all the happenings with everyone following him on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter thus allowing them to make their own judgment. Sleep paralysis, cats gathering at the door at midnight, and moving to another apartment were unhelpful attempts to get rid of what plagued Ellis’s sleep his entire life. John McPhail directs his film very well in that he takes to heart with some artistic license, dramatizing Adams’s every encounter (played by Augustus Prew) with any supernatural being while also introducing adequate backstories and subplots.

Fictionalized Adam doesn’t have it too bad though. He has buddies at work in the open-plan office of BuzzFeed offices. The flat he shares with his boyfriend in New York City is bigger than almost anything else you might find in this metropolis for that price range – it looks like they have been lucky! He is loved by someone who gives affection freely around him. Not least among these advantages are two fluffy cats who are completely adorable. But things start changing for the worse when there are nightmares associated with frightful sleep paralysis.

As if these nocturnal terrors are not enough; they soon begin getting worse. Adam starts talking in his dreams to Dear David, whom he learns how died shortly after that ruckus broke out. Then, the boy starts appearing in Adam’s apartment at night while he is frozen in his bed. Increasingly encroaching upon Adam and his life as well as waking time, Dear David blurs the line between what is real and dreamt of alive and dead.

This is all well and good, but there’s too much focus on the plot and characters that leads to no scares and a flat tone. Just like Ellis did online, Adam has updated about his relationship with Dave David on Instagram or posted something related to it on Twitter. However, the film seems to be only playing around with the idea of cyberbullying without committing itself fully to this aspect of the story. The opening scenes have a flashback to instant-messenger-teasing and catfishing, but then beyond how much internet trolls annoy Adam there’s nothing more substantial said about either topic. For instance, Kyle (René Escobar Jr.) tries to confront his boyfriend about their lack of intimacy before suddenly blaming everything on “Dear David”. A patchy resolution of this part of the narrative does not form a whole thought.

Dear David is able to toggle effectively between playful and heartfelt. In the beginning, Adam and his colleague Evelyn (Andrea Bang) play around with burning sage and sprinkling holy water in jest as a half-hearted attempt at cleansing the house, but it manages to transition well into genuine worry about harm. On the other hand, there are some strange parts that feature the corporate behemoth where Adam works which eventually gets his story out to a larger readership. Bryce played by Justin Long is an obvious proxy for BuzzFeed as an organization.

He is like Steve Buscemi/30 Rock’s “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme in this satire who tries so hard to be cool in front of his younger employees. There are many jokes at his expense early on in Dear David, but none of them are aimed at belittling the website’s reputation. As a result of having BuzzFeed Studios as one of its production companies, it just makes good business sense. However, this defangs any humor made at Bryce’s expense making it feel insincere.

All in all, Dear David can best be described as “defanged”. It does not commit any major sins and apart from overdoing lens flares; it is competently constructed. But it never really goes out of its way to be remarkable either. The stakes always feel low, and this pervades the entire viewing experience.


Though Dear David tries hard to frighten readers, it ultimately falls short of being scary enough. It smothers what little life there was left among the living characters and fails to fully utilize their undead counterparts too many flashbacks are shown. Also, too much lens flare hurts my eyes a bit here

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