Review: Come True (2020)

Come True (2020)

Directed by: Anthony Scott Burns | 105 minutes | horror, science fiction | Actors: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Carlee Ryski, Christopher Heatherington, Tedra Rogers, Brandon DeWyn, John Tasker, Austin Baker, Shane Ghost Keeper, Christopher Thomas, Caroline Buzanko, Orin McCusker, Tyler Dreger, Karen Johnson-Diamond

In ‘Come True’, runaway Sarah is plagued by nightmares. She sleeps so lousyly that she can only get a good night’s sleep in a local playground and it is therefore getting worse at school. In desperation, Sarah decides to take part in a sleep experiment. From this point, ‘Come True’ transforms from an eerie teenage drama with a dryly comic note into a ghastly psycho-horror, with the necessary scares.

Dreaming and sleeping, or the lack thereof, play a big part in the Canadian production ‘Come True’. The film consists of chapters with titles such as persona, anima and animus, and shadow. These titles refer to concepts of the psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, which is an appropriate find and gives the film an extra layer. Little by little, the story reveals Sarah’s dream world. The art direction in the dream scenes consists entirely of ghostly grays and has a dingy image quality. The waking world mainly consists of pastel colors and an eighties film aesthetic. The stark contrast between dream and non-dream creates an intensely menacing atmosphere throughout almost the entire film. In addition, the waking world just doesn’t feel quite realistic, as if something is constantly wrong, as in the cult favorite ‘Donnie Darko’ (Richard Kelly, 2001). All these ingredients, plus a great portrayal of lead actress Julia Stone as Sarah, guarantee a strong start for the film. It is a pity that the good ideas in ‘Come True’ run out fairly quickly.

In terms of art direction and casting, director Anthony Scott Burns often borrows late 1970s and 1980s horror from Hollywood and European cinema, and does so in a skillful and at times challenging manner. ‘Come True’ swings in style between modernized Giallo horror, such as the ‘Suspiria’ version from 2018 (Luca Guadagnino), and the body horror of Canadian master filmmaker David Cronenberg (‘Videodrome’, 1983; ‘Existenz’, 1999; ‘A History of Violence’, 2005). You can also watch ‘Come True’ as a more mature version of “Stranger Things” (Matt and Ross Duffer, 2016) with a dash of teen eroticism.

The atmosphere of the film is therefore entertaining and effective, but content, especially story-technical, does not go smoothly. The plot and backstory of ‘Come True’ are rather on the thin side compared to the body horror of compatriot Cronenberg. The film even seems to lose track in the second half. Also, different acting performances are qualitatively unbalanced. Lead actress Sarah Stone is completely absorbed in her character, but some supporting roles seem to be made of cardboard and in a slightly comic version of the scenario. On top of that, the soundtrack isn’t as subtle and thoughtful as the art direction. Every now and then the music waltzes through the china cabinet, which does not always benefit the film’s strongest point, the atmosphere.

While ambition is certainly not wrong, Scott Burns may have wanted too much at once. Here he tries to combine psychological horror and teen drama with dry comic elements. He therefore fails to do what, for example, contemporary Ari Aster has done better with ‘Hereditary’ (2018) and ‘Midsommar’ (2019) – putting your own stamp on a well-known genre on the basis of a robust story. Nevertheless, Scott Burns makes a brave attempt to continue Canadian body horror and you can safely put on ‘Come True’ as a snack.

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