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INTERVIEW: John McPhail on Addressing Trauma in the Digital Age with ‘DEAR DAVID’

Terror is about to go viral as John McPhail‘s (Anna and the Apocalypse) latest shocker, Dear David is all set to release in select theaters, On Demand and Digital this Friday, October 13, 2023.

Directed by McPhail, from a screenplay written by Mike Van Waes (The Crooked Man), and based on the viral Twitter thread by BuzzFeed comic artist Adam Ellis, the film centers on Adam (Augustus Prew) who, after responding to internet trolls, starts experiencing sleep paralysis – while an empty rocking chair moves in the corner of his apartment. As he chronicles the increasingly disturbing phenomena in a series of tweets, Adam comes to fear that he is being haunted by the ghost of a dead child called David. Spurred on by his boss to keep the “Dear David” thread going, Adam starts to lose his grip on what is online… and what is real.

Commenting on the genesis behind the film, McPhail said, “I wanted to tell a story about trauma in the digital age. Through Adam’s story, I could see parallels between hauntings and online abuse. Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, a place to get away from the world, but what if that space is being invaded by outside forces, buzzing in your pocket, pinging on your screen. What if those same forces are also an addiction, a dopamine hit that you crave day in and day out. For Adam, his life is falling apart but his internet notoriety is growing; bringing support but also hate, disbelief, and trolling.”

The film also stars Andrea Bang, René Escobar Jr. (Neon Lights, “Gray”, Cameron Nicoll (Slumberland, “Gen V”) and Justin Long (Tusk, Barbarian, It’s A Wonderful Knife).

In anticipation of the film’s release this Friday, CinemaChords’ Ashley Northey caught up with McPhail to find out why he felt Adam Ellis’ story was ripe for a big screen retelling…..

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