Dear David Review: A Shallow Descent into Paranormal Clichés

Dear David, a brand new supernatural horror film directed by John McPhail (best known for directing the delightfully wholesome horror comedy Anna and the Apocalypse) and based on Adam Ellis’ Twitter thread of the same name, is a disappointing and lacklustre attempt at bringing an online ghost story to the big screen. Despite its intriguing premise and talented cast, the film fails to deliver any genuine scares or originality, resulting in a tedious and predictable viewing experience. Read on for my Dear David review.

Dear David Review Is Spoiler Free

The story revolves around Adam (played by Augustus Prew), a comic artist who, after engaging with Internet trolls, begins to suffer from sleep paralysis and haunting visions. Convinced that he is being haunted by the vengeful spirit of a dead child named David, Adam embarks on a journey to uncover the truth behind the malevolent entity.

One of the film’s major shortcomings is its lack of creativity in exploring the horror genre. The narrative relies heavily on clichés and tired tropes, with jump scares that are not only predictable but also repetitive. The ghostly occurrences are disappointingly formulaic, following a generic pattern of eerie whispers, flickering lights, and objects moving on their own. There is a distinct absence of innovation or originality, making Dear David feel like a rehashed compilation of scenes borrowed from countless other supernatural horror films.

Dear David (2023).

The performances of the cast, while competent, are unable to elevate the film beyond its mediocre script. Augustus Prew as Adam delivers a passable performance, but his character lacks depth and development, making it difficult for the audience to connect with his plight. Andrea Bang as Evelyn, Justin Long as BuzzFeed’s head Bryce, René Escobar Jr. as Kyle, and Rachel Wilson as Linda, all deliver serviceable performances, but their characters are one-dimensional and stereotypical. The most disappointing under-usage of a character, though, is Long’s character, Bryce. There was once a point in time in which Long was a horror icon and ever since the release of Barbarian last year, we’ve been seeing a bit of a resurgence for him. Sadly, this movie did not do him justice and I can only hope that he’ll get another fantastic horror role down the road.

Dear David review focuses on the movie’s lack of thematic depth.

Furthermore, the film’s pacing is inconsistent, leading to moments of tedium interspersed with rushed, underdeveloped plot points. The lack of a cohesive and engaging narrative arc makes it challenging for viewers to invest in the story or its characters. They gloss over important plot developments, robbing the film of any meaningful emotional impact. As a result, the audience is left indifferent to the fates of the characters, diminishing any sense of tension or suspense.

The film’s visual effects, while competent, are not groundbreaking and do little to enhance the overall viewing experience. The ghostly apparitions and supernatural phenomena lack the chilling realism necessary to evoke genuine fear. In a genre that thrives on visual innovation and creativity, Dear David falls short, opting for a conventional and uninspired approach to its visuals.

The film’s direction by John McPhail does little to salvage the uninspired screenplay. While McPhail has previously demonstrated his ability to infuse unique energy into projects, Dear David feels like a departure from his previous work. The film lacks the directorial flair and creativity that could have potentially elevated its material. McPhail’s direction fails to create a sense of atmosphere or tension, leaving the film devoid of the eerie ambiance crucial for a successful horror experience.

Dear David (2023).

Dear David also suffers from a lack of thematic depth. Despite the potential to explore relevant topics such as online harassment, social media toxicity, or the consequences of one’s actions in the digital age, the film merely scratches the surface of these themes. Any attempts at social commentary are overshadowed by the film’s focus on tired supernatural elements, missing an opportunity to add substance to its narrative.

Overall Impression:

Dear David is a forgettable addition to the horror genre, offering nothing more than a collection of clichés and uninspired scares. Its lack of originality, underdeveloped characters, and absence of genuine frights make it a tedious and disappointing viewing experience. While the concept of adapting an online ghost story for the big screen had potential, the execution falls flat, resulting in a film that fails to leave a lasting impression. Save your time and money for a more innovative and engaging horror experience, as Dear David ultimately fails to deliver on its promising premise.d

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Dear David Review: A Shallow Descent into Paranormal Clichés
  • Acting - 5.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 3/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Watchability - 4/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.