Talking With ‘Daniel Isn’t Real’ Director Adam Egypt Mortimer About Mania And Horror

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in February 2020.

Horror films and mental illness have a fraught relationship. Oftentimes mental illness is used as a plot device to create monstrosity and is exploited as an object of fear. Being mentally ill can only lead to violence, or at least it seems that way throughout the history of the genre. However, director Adam Egypt Mortimer created a film that tackles mental illness with more complexity. In his new film, Daniel Isn’t Real, mental illness is a strange demon that seems to latch onto your very soul and manipulate you.

Daniel Isn’t Real follows college student Luke (Miles Robbins) who is dealing with a lot. His mother’s (Mary Stuart Masterson) mental illness is getting worse and he is struggling with making friends in college. He is lost and confused. So he turns to his old imaginary friend Daniel (Patrick Schwarzenegger) for comfort. Daniel, though, is an agent of chaos, spurring Luke into manic and destructive behavior that seems to replace his own mild-mannered disposition. Luke must figure out how to fight back against Daniel and regain a grasp of who he is.

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‘Black Christmas’ Is A Loud, Rage-Filled War Cry That Begs To Be Answered

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in December 2019.

Content warning: Mentions of rape, sexual assault, and violence.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Colorful lights sparkle and flash. Christmas trees are covered in tinsel. And underneath that tree is a messily-wrapped gift bursting with rage. That gift is Sophia Takal’s Black Christmas, a modern revision of Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher of the same name. Takal and co-writer April Wolfe take the story and bring it into the tumultuous 21st century, where women are no longer content with staying silent.

Black Christmas is centered on Hawthorne College campus and the sorority sisters of MKE. Riley (Imogen Poots) is a sexual assault survivor who, after three years, still feels the repercussions of her rape, both emotionally and socially. She tries to cover up her body as much as possible and wants to make herself small, unnoticeable. Luckily, she has her sorority sisters who support her every step of the way, never for a second doubting her.

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Monster Mash: Televisual and Vaginal Body Horror in ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Videodrome’

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in October 2019.

October is finally upon us! It’s the time for cozy sweaters, making everything taste like pumpkin and, most importantly, horror films. Of course, sometimes it can be hard to decide what to watch, and if you are anything like me, one is never enough. That is why, for each week in the month of October, Much Ado About Cinema’s Monster Mash series is providing you with a double feature program and delving into why and how they go together like fava beans and a nice Chianti.

For our second Monster Mash, we’re delving into the power of television told through vaginals body horror in the horror classics Poltergeist and Videodrome.

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‘The Curse of Buckout Road’ is An Ambitious Debut Feature About The Power of Myth

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in October 2019.

Every town has an urban legend. In my hometown, there was the Goatman, hills where your car would get pushed uphill by ghosts, crybaby bridge, and much more. For director Matthew Currie Holmes, his hometown legend is Buckout Road, located in Westchester County of upstate New York State. It is rumored to be the most haunted road in the U.S., so of course, Holmes had to make a horror movie about it. His debut feature film, The Curse of Buckout Road, takes a few of the tales associated with the haunted road and weaves them into a horror movie perfect for lovers of urban legend.

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TIFF ‘19: ‘Pelican Blood’ Is A Disturbing Examination of What a Mother Will Do For Her Child

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

What would you do for your newly-adopted daughter? Give her the best education possible? Address her behavioral problems head-on? Take lactation medication to breastfeed her so she feels closer to you? Yes, all this happens and more in Katrin Gebbe’s film, Pelican Blood, a disturbing look at the depths a mother will go to prove her love for her (adopted) child.

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TIFF ‘19: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’ is Well-Acted But Emotionally Light

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

In 2018, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda devastated audiences with his film, Shoplifters, a story about found family and the bonds that hold them together. Kore-eda, in general, is known for his emotional films that feel like punches to the gut. His latest film, however, delivers less emotional impact. The Truth is his first English language film and while it is well-acted, it is less accessible than his previous work.

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TIFF ‘19: Teen Romance Meets Climate Change in ‘Weathering With You’

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

In the follow-up to his wildly successful animated film, Your Name, Makoto Shinkai has written another whimsical teen romance in Weathering With You. It is about a boy and a girl who meet in a rain-filled Tokyo, where the weather has become wildly unpredictable. While his message about climate change is questionable at best, Shinkai still crafts a beautiful story about young love, found family, and struggling to discover who you truly are.

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TIFF ’19: ‘Murmur’ Is A Search For Love In The Form Of Senior Rescue Dogs

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

With a long puff on an e-cigarette, we meet Donna, a woman with a love of red wine and not much else. But beneath the cloud of vapor and bottles of alcohol lies a deeply sad person who is searching for some larger purpose. Shot like a documentary with a careful and thoughtful gaze, Heather Young’s directorial debut Murmur is a gorgeous, yet heart-breaking, film about addiction, loneliness, and trying to feel loved.

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TIFF ’19: Get Swept Away by ‘Sea Fever’

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

The ocean is a vast, unknown, and frankly terrifying place. It is home to massive whales and other creatures that have adapted to huge amounts of pressure and total darkness. Some of the weirdest animals on Earth can be found in the ocean, but, there’s so much we still don’t know about it. More than 80% of the ocean has not been explored, so who knows what lurks beneath the waves? Director Neasa Hardiman takes that aura of mystery to create her latest feature film, Sea Fever, an eco-thriller that reflects on aquatic possibilities as well as the effects human beings continue to have on ocean life.

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TIFF ‘19: ‘Sea Fever’ Director Neasa Hardiman and Actor Hermione Corfield Talk Eco Thrillers, Red Heads, and the Use of Body Horror

This piece was initially published on Much Ado About Cinema in September 2019.

Sea Fever is a parasitic environmental horror about what waits for us beneath the waves. It follows a PhD candidate Siobhan (Hermione Corfield) who would rather study specimens in a lab rather than interact with people. However, she is sent out on a fishing boat for field research, only to come upon a massive unknown creature. She must help the crew understand the beast and figure out a way to escape its grasp.

Neasa Hardiman, who wrote and directed the film, is known for her work on dramas such as Happy Valley and Jessica Jones. So why did she decide to pivot to the terrifying seas? I was able to speak with her and Corfield during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to learn more about Sea Fever and what it was like to research and film on a fishing vessel.

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