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It's Not Real

average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Mar 13, 2023

Film Reviews
It's Not Real
Directed by:
Jaye Adams
Written by:
Jaye Adams
Melissa Jackson, Edward Griggs, Lily Bergin

Echoing feature-length staples such as The Ring and Poltergeist, Jaye Adams’ It’s Not Real is a short, accomplished film which mixes classic horror ingredients to deliver a bite-sized, adrenal-filled dose of terror whilst showcasing the director’s impressive scene-framing ability.


When college students Cassie (Melissa Jackson), TJ (Edward Griggs) and Amy (Lily Bergin) watch disturbing found footage of a ritual sacrifice, they awaken a terrible demonic presence (Emilia Convertino). Emerging from the very screen itself, this vengeful spectre targets the students one by one for terrifying purposes.


Coming in hot at a trim seven minutes, It’s Not Real wastes no time in getting stuck straight in to the scary stuff. This comes with benefits and setbacks. The scare scenes are impressively realised and suitably chilling, and are dynamic enough to leave a real impression on the viewer. But this comes at the cost of establishing little about the small cast of characters who becomes victims of the ritualistic horror that unfurls. Viewers looking to immediately jump to the frights or homages will be happy with the film’s deliverance – particularly in relation to its small budget. But audiences who prefer relatable or developed characters may find the film’s quickfire nature lacking. There’s little to get the viewer invested in the characters – and subsequently to really care about them when the screaming starts.


I count myself closer to the latter of this scale, however the filmmaker’s ability to realise their vision should be obvious to all. Jaye Adams has a real ability to nail pure creepiness down on screen – with the film’s most memorable scares coming from manipulating audience expectations around a projector watched by the film’s cast. Where the characters do not receive much development through the plot, their emotional states and journey are captured well. The film features plenty of inspiration from a number of modern classics of horror, but manages to avoid feeling like a rip-off or derivative through considered use.


Costume and set design is impressive especially considering the film’s lower budget – with Emilia Convertino’s demonic monster manifesting as a more-than-convincing threat thanks to brilliant work of the crew and makeup artist Jules Jones. The impressive sound design also allows the director to work around technological limitations without losing any of the horror – with shiver-inducing reaction scenes over the sound of macabre disembowelments making just as much of an impression as some of the bloodier shots. And the flickering of the 8mm film that is constant in the background creates a recurring and threatening aura of discomfort and sense of threat from a place in the forgotten past.


For a short horror with a fantastic grasp of its genre and how to create fear and tension, It’s Not Real will impress admirers of haunting, modern ritualistic films. However there’s little opportunity to further ingratiate into its world or become invested in its limited characters, robbing the film of the chance to access a deeper sense of terror.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film
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