Dear David Trailer: The Film Adaptation Of The Viral Horror Story Looks Like A Huge Bummer


In the last few years, many former employees of Buzzfeed have released articles and videos explaining why they left the company, with many citing issues of being overworked while simultaneously under-appreciated and underpaid. The videos are loaded with righteous anger and paint a much grimmer portrait of the fun and lighthearted corporation responsible for endless quizzes and interviews with celebrities holding puppies. This is to say that I one day look forward to the tell-all expose about what the process was like to bring "Dear David" to the screen.

After five years of development and production, the horror film based on former Buzzfeed cartoonist Adam Ellis' 2017 viral tweet thread about the ghost of a dead child haunting his apartment has a trailer, and it looks so divorced from the tone of the source material I can practically see the notes from Buzzfeed embedded in the CGI effects.

This isn't the first time a studio has given a viral Twitter thread the film treatment, as A24 did the very same with "Zola." The result was a pretty solid film with dynamite performances by Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, and Colman Domingo, even if it lost some of the raw excitement of A'Ziah "Zola" King's original thread. "Dear David," however, looks like a ghost movie written by AI. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise considering Buzzfeed is now openly using AI to write some of their articles instead of paying their staff a fair wage.

"Dear David" began when Ellis tweeted, "My apartment is currently being haunted by the ghost of a dead child and he's trying to kill me," and is ending with ... whatever this is.

Check out the Dear David trailer

Augustus Prew ("Pure Genius," "Midnight Kiss," "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power") stars as Adam Ellis, and the film incorporates his life as a former Buzzfeed employee in addition to the ghost story. Ellis makes the mistake of breaking the cardinal rule of someone who works in an online space by reading the comments and responding to some internet trolls. It's then that he's called out by a mysterious user named Dear David. Shortly after, Ellis begins suffering from sleep paralysis and notices the empty rocking chair in his apartment has begun to move on its own. As he documents the increasingly unexplainable activities taking place in his apartment, he starts to believe that David is the ghost of a dead child intentionally haunting him.

"Dear David" was written by Mike Van Waes ("The Crooked Man," untitled "Leprechaun" film) and directed by John McPhail ("Anna and the Apocalypse"). I really don't want to dog on a film that isn't out yet, especially when studios are attempting to delegitimize the work of writers and actors in the midst of the double strike, but the original "Dear David" thread was a creepy phenomenon. Watching it all unfold felt like a communal urban legend in real time, but this trailer feels like a paint-by-numbers ghost story fed through Buzzfeed's SEO algorithm. Here's hoping there's more than meets the eye on this one, but if not, we'll always have the original story.

"Dear David" premieres on October 13, 2023, in theaters and on digital.

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