top of page
  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

Review: Come True (2021)

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Anthony Scott Burns' second feature-length is a sci-fi horror that blends deep internal fears with the dangers (and benefits) of technology. Minus the consistent body horror element found in most of David Cronenberg’s films, Come True still feels like a page out of his playbook with his commentary on technology and its ability to tap into our deeper needs, desires and fears. Last year’s Possessor, which was directed by Cronenberg’s son Brandon, did their namesake proud as well as feeling unique and fresh as a rising new voice in horror. Burns’ Come True feels like this year’s Possessor, with Scott Burns emerging from the black depths of our fears and establishing himself as a fresh, innovative voice in a genre getting back to its very best.

Come True follows troubled runaway teen Sarah (Julia Sarah Stone). Plagued by nightmares, Sarah struggles to sleep. She signs up for a sleep study with the hopes of it helping her ever-worsening insomnia. Soon though, she begins to descend deeper into her nightmares as the study pushes her to unravel further.

The big ideas found within Come True mainly touch on sleep deprivation and most importantly, sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is often a terrifying experience for those who experience it, and what Scott Burns manages to do with Come True, is make it a very vivid and very rational fear for those who have never experienced it. Come True genuinely made me afraid to go to sleep after watching it at 2 am, making it an effective exercise in touching on existing fears as well as exposing ones you never knew you had. The camera drifts forward through doors, past bizarre sculptures of mangled figures, through shadows and finally arriving at a mysterious, shadowy figure. The dark, colourless world of these dreams feels as close to a nightmare as I can imagine and recollect, with massive credit going to the VFX team on the film, making these nightmares we can barely remember come to life...for me, at least. The frightening prospects set up in the fictional events in Come True feel all too real, further proving that the themes and ideas found within to be something we all know are there, but are too afraid to confront.

It’s often a very tricky tight rope to balance on when a director takes on multiple roles in their work. It allows them to have full control of every aspect of their vision, but it can also cause filmmakers to lose sight of certain areas because too much of their attention is divided. In this case, Anthony Scott Burns could’ve fallen hard off the tightrope - Writer, director, cinematographer, editor, VFX lead and even co-composer. Scott Burns had a lot on his plate, but thankfully he excels in all fields. Indie films allow for more freedom and fluidity in the creative process, with Come True genuinely feeling like the work of a singular vision - a potentially visionary filmmaker at the fore. With exception to some clunky and genuinely cringe-inducing dialogue at one point in the film, Scott Burns makes the most of a sharp script that is clever and wholly unpredictable, playing with ideas of dream logic that are imaginative and genuinely unsettling, avoiding easy jump scares and opting for atmosphere first and foremost.

Julia Sarah Stone as the lead is absolutely outstanding. It’s so refreshing to see more female horror leads of the past 12 or so years as fully fleshed out, relatable and complex characters as opposed to being the clichéd final girl or a mere plot device as a killed victim with little to no character development. Stone is both fragile and strong, trying her best to make sense of these fears rapidly tightening its grip on her waking life. She is a star in the making, providing an instinctual performance that is very real, giving rational and irrational reactions in a fictional sci-fi world that is entirely convincing.

The look and feel of Come True is highly distinctive, Scott Burns’ use of colour and framing are intrinsic to the very themes and topics found in the backdrop and foreground of Come True’s internal and external fears. A cyan hue dominates most of the film in each frame, a colour that has been found through studies as being a cause for lack of sleep. This simple approach gives the film its sleepless look, with the colour finding its way into each frame, even when purple dominates a specific scene, cyan has a major presence through monitors glaring back at us. This not only gives the film an identity that stands out, but it also serves as a real purpose other than being a stylistic choice that is cool to look at (it’s that as well), allowing for the film to lose itself in an atmosphere of unease.

I am a real sucker for 80s inspired synth-heavy scores. Driving, pulsating synths that work as a beating heart to the story and events found within, especially with horror films. It Follows, Possessor, Saint Maud, Neon Demon and pretty much anything by John Carpenter has music that plays such a big part in the atmosphere of the film as a whole, giving it a specific flavour. Add the score for Come True among those as a huge highlight, which will almost certainly become one of my favourite soundtracks of the year. Scott Burns’ music moniker Pilotpriest creates a moody score with synth-pop duo Electric Youth, lending its synth-heavy compositions to a world beautifully realized by simple and effective art direction and production design - further strengthening the atmosphere to greater heights.

Come True is a massively unpredictable film that heads to a finale that is completely unexpected. Its final big “what?” moment will most certainly split audiences, unsure of what to make of it, but it’s bound to create discussion. It’s an ending that can feel completely unearned and even illogical in its setup that understandably could be seen as a cop-out. It’s bold and definitely divisive, but something that keeps in line with the experience of Come True: unpredictable till the last frame. The film sets up dream and nightmare logic with each idea, theme and intention thought-out, sending it to a finale that motivates the twists and turns that has us arriving at its WTF conclusion.

Come True is a sci-fi horror that satisfies everything that I love about this marriage of the two genres and how they blend so seamlessly within the realm of independent filmmaking: big ideas on a smaller scale, allowing for less is more to play a huge part in getting their intentions across. It’s mysterious, atmospheric, provocative and effective in its intent. It isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly something catered for me. Very excited to see what Anthony Scott Burns and star Julia Sarah Stone do next.

Where you can watch it: Most VOD platforms (USA, UK)

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page