Directed by John McPhail, “Dear David” is a 2023 horror movie featuring the likes of Justin Long, Andrea Bang, Augustus Prew, Rachel Wilson, and Tricia Black.  The movie unfolds in 2017, focusing on Adam Ellis (Augustus Prew), who meticulously documents a series of paranormal experiences within his apartment. Sharing these encounters on Twitter, his “Dear David” posts rapidly grasp the attention of online audiences, sparking a viral sensation. But for Adam, it’s a nightmare!

Dear David (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

At the center of the narrative is Adam Ellis, a man whose daily routine revolves around navigating through various online platforms—Twitter, Instagram, and a plethora of memes. Adam, an illustrator at Buzzfeed, grapples with the ubiquitous presence of trolls on the internet, who eagerly deride his artwork, labeling it as inferior. These detractors waste no time ridiculing his creations as soon as they hit the World Wide Web. Adding to Adam’s challenges is his boss, Bryce (Justin Long), at Buzzfeed, whose criticisms cut deep. Bryce dismisses Adam’s illustrations as lackluster, failing to capture the desired audience appeal. Demanding originality, Bryce asserts that people are drawn to content firmly rooted in reality. Regrettably, this echoes what he said to Carmen, Adam’s former colleague, before ultimately letting her go.

Meanwhile, we meet Kevin and James, these guys who pretty much spend their time trolling people online. They stumble upon this odd profile named David (Cameron Nicoll) and decide to start bullying them. James goes all out, throwing insults and trying to provoke a reaction. But the person behind the David profile seems disturbingly calm and even makes a creepy comment about looking forward to James wetting his bed. That night, things take a terrifying turn.

A creepy, evil-looking hand creeps up to James while he’s in bed, and it starts choking him, literally making him wet the bed in fear, just like the profile mentioned. It’s a seriously freaky experience. Meanwhile, David starts following Adam after Adam bullies another user who insulted his art, using the acronym DIAF (which stands for “Die in a Fire”) to hit back hard.

Is David Real or a Figment of Adam’s Mind?

Before long, some really weird stuff starts going down. Adam starts feeling like someone is trailing him, and he even spots a kid chilling on his favorite green rocky chair. Despite the eerie reality of it all, Adam brushes it off, blaming stress from work and lack of sleep. But things take a darker twist when he sees a woman—totally visible to him but invisible to everyone else. Creepy, right?

Adam’s on edge and decides to spill the beans to his friend Evelyn (Andrea Bang), hoping she can shed some light on what’s happening. She chalks it up to work stress, but Adam isn’t so sure. He takes to the internet to share his bizarre experiences. Even his boss catches wind of his posts and encourages him to keep sharing, noting that these “David tweets” are personal yet captivating, and they’re generating quite the buzz.

Things quickly take a terrifying turn for Adam as he starts encountering apparitions of the deceased in his dreams. These spectral figures are relentlessly trying to harm him, all while David ominously watches from the rocking chair. Despite what everyone is telling him—that it’s probably just a result of his sleep-deprived state due to work—Adam is firmly convinced he’s being haunted. This ordeal begins to strain his relationship with Kyle, his boyfriend. Kyle notices the emotional distance Adam has developed and the fact that he’s been neglecting his calls and texts. To make matters worse, Kyle stumbles upon Adam’s profile on a gay dating app, fueling his fears of infidelity. Frustrated and hurt, Kyle reaches a breaking point and returns Adam’s house keys, seeking some much-needed space in their relationship.

Who’s Phyllis Crainey?

As Adam delves further into his eerie dreams, he makes a bone-chilling discovery—the people he’s been encountering are the spirits of David’s victims. The horror escalates when he finds himself dangling out of a window one night, a terrifying experience that shakes him to the core. Meanwhile, Bryce, his boss, is oddly excited about the popularity surge of David’s posts and is impressed by Adam’s growing success, unaware of the terror Adam is facing.

Desperate for answers, Adam turns to Kyle, urging him to uncover the person behind David’s social media account. Kyle, initially unsure, eventually agrees in the hopes of calming Adam’s fears. In his quest for understanding and relief, Adam seeks the help of a psychic, who raises the unsettling possibility that Adam might have somehow invited this ghostly presence into his life. David receives a letter from Phyllis Crainey, an internet sleuth fascinated by paranormal activities. Adam pours out his experiences to Phyllis, who even manages to name some of the ghosts he’s been encountering. She suggests he search for Loopy Linda, who had grappled with similar haunting occurrences.

Who is Loopy Linda?

Dear David (2023) Movie Ending Explained
Augustus Prew in Dear David (2023)

So, turns out Loopy Linda had a pretty grim backstory—ending up in a psychiatric ward after a horrendous act that left her husband dead and her son in a coma he never woke up from. That’s some seriously dark stuff. Remember that news article Bryce showed Adam in the beginning? The one about a man waking up from a 21-year coma? Well, that man was David. But here’s where it gets even creepier—when Adam decides to investigate at the hospital, he’s hit with the shocking revelation that David is actually dead.

Adam isn’t one to back down, though. He steals a security card, sneaks into the hospital’s record room, and stumbles upon a mind-boggling discovery—David’s body is missing from the morgue. He also learns about Dr. Landers, the one overseeing David’s case. Adam’s curiosity leads him to Dr. Landers’ house, and what he finds there is straight out of a horror movie. The poor doctor, her life tragically taken, hanging lifeless from a rope above the stairwell.

That very night, David seemingly takes over Adam’s body, and things take a dark and eerie turn as he forces Adam to inflict harm upon himself. But here’s where it gets complicated. The following morning, when Adam tries to confide in Evelyn about what happened, she brushes him off. You might be wondering why his best friend would ignore him in such a situation.

Well, it turns out that Adam had sent Evelyn some hateful messages the night before, calling her miserable and talentless. And there’s another bizarre twist. When his coworker Norris ( Tricia Black) shares an article titled “Top Reasons to Be Yourself at Work,” Adam somehow interprets it as “Top Reasons to Kill Yourself at Work.” This freaks him out, and he creates a scene, even attempting to show it to his boss. But when his boss sees the article, it miraculously turns back to normal, making everyone believe that Adam is losing it.

Dear David (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What Happened to Adam Ellis?

Towards the end of “Dead David” (2023), Adam makes this critical mistake, asking three questions to David that he never should have. This blunder essentially hands David the keys to the kingdom, giving him complete control over Adam’s life. Soon, David starts treating Adam like a character in a video game, forcing him to do unspeakable things, like pouring hot coffee on himself.  And it doesn’t stop there. David even pushes Adam to set his own house on fire. Then, it takes an even darker turn.

David transports Adam’s psyche into some kind of digital realm, where he’s seated in front of a computer. In this place, he tries to break Adam down, manipulating him into believing he’s miserable and a bully. But Adam summons his last ounce of strength and, in a climactic moment, manages to defeat David, finally freeing himself from the relentless horror. The movie ends with David being transported to the hospital for treatment, with Evelyn and Kyle on his side.

Who was David? Is He Gone?

Nope! David, this relentless digital ghost, proves to be insurmountable, persisting even after Adam’s attempt to vanquish him. This malevolent entity can’t be destroyed—only contained—adding an unnerving layer to the story. As the movie progresses toward its chilling climax, we’re introduced to Chloe, a streamer who engages in bullying behavior towards her subscribers. David, always seeking new vessels, lures Chloe into his web. She falls for the bait, playing along with the three questions.

However, the stakes are unbearably high, and with the third question, David seizes control of Chloe, compelling her to inflict harm upon herself. David was an illustrator, much like Adam Ellis. He, too, had shared his art online, hoping for acknowledgment and appreciation. However, instead of praise, he faced relentless trolling, just like his father, who berated him for spending so much time on the computer. This environment of constant criticism and familial pressure proved to be overwhelming for David. After enduring years of torment, David finally snapped. He attempted to strangle his father with a cable, a desperate act of rebellion. Yet, his mother intervened, leading to a tragic and brutal incident where David’s head was struck with a monitor, leaving him in a coma.

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Dear David (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Dear David (2023) Movie: Augustus Prew, Andrea Bang, René Escobar Jr., Cameron Nicoll, Justin Long
Dear David (2023) Movie Genre: Horror/Mystery & thriller, Runtime: 1h 35m
Where to watch Dear David

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