In the original DisneySnow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937, Snow White is Rotoscoped, while other characters are not. The character is the only one in the movie who looks unnatural. Ironically, she is the only detail of this ground-breaking film that looks old-fashioned even though rotoscoping was considered cutting edge technology at the time. The Seven Dwarfs are recognizable instantly, but Snow White fades into the background when she isn't singing or dancing.
Prince Charming, by the same technique, manages to be even more of a blank than Snow White, partly because he wouldn't have a personality if you gave him a rocket-powered step-ladder.
Princess Jasmine's facial expressions in Aladdin fall a bit into the Uncanny area at times. The slight squints or raised eyebrow movements on her character were subtle and naturally hard to get right.
The Blue Fairy from Pinocchio is another early Disney example. There is something about her that makes her look almost like an actual person when compared with the more cartoony looking humans in the film.
She's probably rotoscoped. That may be intentional, given that she is a fairy, and supposed to look inhuman.
The 2012 Disney short "Electric Holiday", done in partnership with Barney's New York (a fashion company) seems innocent enough, until the scene with several Disney characters at a fashion show where their heads are placed on skinny human bodies, even in the case of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Daisy Duck. See for yourself here
The failure of the movieFinal Fantasy The Spirits Within was partially blamed on its characters being right in the Uncanny Valley. The rest of the blame could be chalked up to boredom. Somehow, the female lead was put in a Maxim Magazine "hottest women" list. Nice body aside, her skin looked like porcelain. Creepy. Especially given that "skin like porcelain" is supposed to be a compliment.
At the time of its release, the studio had hoped to use the Aki Ross "virtual actress" in other productions. This obviously never happened.
Ironically, test footage for the movie, released several years before its release, showed an early version of Aki that was somewhat more realistic yet at the same time less uncanny valley-esque.
The human characters from Dreamworks' Monsters vs. Aliens, due to the extreme detail rendered into their skin.
Tintin got slammed in several reviews for this, particularly in the design of Tintin himself as opposed to the more cartoony side-characters.
Rango: Beans in general. Rather than resembling a real desert iguana, she looks like a cross between a little girl's doll, an alien, and something almost equine. It's the lizard variant of Uncanny Valley.
The Polar Express, although more successful, is notorious for this trope. Many reviewers commented on the zombie-like appearance of the adult cast. Especially the ones voiced by Tom Hanks. The Cartoon Brew blog nailed it: "This holiday season, give your family nightmares!"
Mars Needs Moms is all over this. After all, Robert Zemeckis is involved with this one. Quite a few websites have noted that the humans look a lot more creepy than the aliens.
Deliberately applied to the characters in Monster House. While the film used motion capture, making their body and facial movements very realistic, this was edged out with very slightly 'off' proportions - Dee Jay was deliberately given a lanky physique and the faces were slightly exaggerated. Of course, it was technically a horror film for children, so the creepiness suited it.
The producers of Shrek intentionally dialled down the realism of Fiona's skin due to the animators reportedly feeling a bit like they were animating a corpse.
Say, you know that movie Shark Tale? You know, the one that people said They Copied It, So It Sucks because it came out around the time Finding Nemo did? Well, one of the reasons it bombed with critics was that the fish characters resembled the handmaidens of Cthulhu.
The use of puppets in Fantastic Mr. Fox could be considered this trope. Their highly-detailed fur and eyes make their cartoonish-like movements come across as unsettling and the close-ups of their faces in particular utterly betray the fact that these puppets were not designed to pull off subtle facial expressions.
Pixar has this for the human characters in its early films, but they worked around it by avoiding direct shots of them. The humans in Toy Story look rather odd, and a major reason for some strange settings was to feature characters who would look less odd as CG characters. The human cast of The Incredibles and Ratatouille are probably the most realistic, but they avoided the Valley by having cartoonish proportions. In WALL•E they try to avoid it, but there are some people who found the live-action scenes deeply disturbing (or too close to the truth). The CG background and cheap props only make it worse, particularly in comparison to the detailed post-apocalyptic wasteland. They managed to avert it by the time Toy Story 3 came out.
The early short Tin Toy. By the time Toy Story rolled around, they at least seemed like they were starting to get that humans didn't need to be fully realistic. They hadn't figured that out yet in 1988, and not only was the baby◊ in the short creepily almost-realistic, but it got even worse compared to the cartoonish toys which were the only other characters.
The characters in Corpse Bride aren't nearly as appealing for the most part as the more cartoony ones in The Nightmare Before Christmas because of this trope. The more subtle expressions (as opposed to the more convincing stylized ones) end up looking especially creepy sometimes.
They were able to achieve these more subtle expressions by replacing the industry-standard replaceable heads with precision-crafted clockwork heads. However, not only did this make the animation process longer and harder, but it also caused one of the animators to have nightmares of resetting his own expressions through clockwork mechanisms.
Speaking of Nightmare, usually the ones quoted for this trope is the Halloween Town citizens, but a lot of the fans think the elves are creepier. They're too cheerful, dammit!
The human children are creepier than most things hanging around Halloween Town.
Ever seen Jack and Sally Fan-Art drawn realistically? Sally usually looks okay, but dear Lord, there's a reason why Jack is acartoonyskeleton!
Coraline deliberately sweeps the valley to induce fear. The human characters avoid it quite swimmingly, considering that they aren't very realistic, but they are realistic enough to make the ragdoll versions of themselves fall squarely into this trope. In general, taking emotion and soul out of a face is a keen way to achieve the Uncanny Valley, so in this case taking out one of the most expressive parts of the face, the eyes, was a good strategy.
The stop-motion in the Otherworld is slightly off, doing things like having single frames where things suddenly jump around, just enough to be unnerving.
Perhaps most unnerving as the Other Mother's illusions start wearing off, and the Other Father begins looking increasingly melted.
Most of the animated version is pretty kid friendly. However the main reason that Coraline was so frightening was because of the novel. To its readers they had imagined the story as a Live-Action Adaptation. Imagine Teri Hatcher (are you imagining her?, Good). Now imagine her with her eyes ripped out and abnormally large black shirt buttons sewn into the still bloody sockets. Sleep tight, kids!!.
Wreck-It Ralph: Turbo is a game character that's human, but due to the graphic limitations of his game, he has grey skin, an oversized head, bright yellow teeth (which are all exactly the same size & shape and perfectly straight so that they all seem to be one piece), glowing, sunken yellow eyes ringed with dark circles, a pudgy body, and skinny limbs, giving him the appearance of a zombie. No wonder his game lost popularity.
Eris from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is an interesting example. She sort of tiptoes across the valley by looking decidedly scary with her gray skin and yellow eyes but being very, verysexy. In a couple of scenes she is goosebump inducing creepy and in other the personification of awesome. Her character design also varies extremely from the other characters in the film which makes her stand out even more.
Clipboard in Foodfight! has a very disturbing walk, very uncanny facial expressions, and everything else. Sure, there is a plot twist in that Clipboard turns out to be a robot, but still creepy.
Blue Sky's upcoming film adaptation of Peanuts can be unnerving to some. Snoopy in the trailer is particularly creepy.
Films — Live-Action
Porn stars can have this effect on someone who is either not attracted to porn stars, or not into the particular gender that porn focuses on.
In-Universe example in Mean Girls. Cady finds Mrs. George to fall deep into the Valley, thanks to her plastic surgery. The sight of her fake breasts approaching Cady is met with Psycho Strings, and Cady is clearly unnerved by her lack of reaction to her little chihuahua gnawing on her tit.
However in fairness most feature films either based on or inspired by classic television sitcoms made before the mid to late 1980's (Pleasantville, Fat Albert, a short lived sitcom called Hi Honey I'm Home was built around this trope) are intentionally made as parodies of this trope as due to the belief that most of these shows were far "Too Happy" and or unrealistic compared to many dysfunctional family sitcoms of the 90s to present day.
The Uncanny Valley has been around since the early 20th century. Ladislas Starevich had made some very early stop-motion animated films, originally for educational purposes but then he realized, "hey, I got a lot of potential stuff to do!" so he decided to make his puppets star in dark comedies. What were these puppets of? Actual embalmed insects. He originally intended to recreate a stag-beetle fight because he couldn't get them to do it under stage lights.
Deliberately invoked by James Cameron in The Abyss, some of the scenes of Coffey's descent into madness are shown with the film running backwards, so actor Michael Biehn looks odd in a way the audience can't quite put their finger on.
Also used for effect in the draft examination sequence of Across the Universe. The strange, plastic, square-jawed and Ken-doll-haired beings that looked like the unholy offspring of the Burger King for the creepiness involved. That's Julie Taymor for you.
The unnaturally toothy smile of one of the titular characters in The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl (guess which one) is surprisingly disturbing. This "uncanniness" is largely subverted as we discover that, despite his unnerving appearance and personality he is in fact a good guy.
The Spielberg movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence turned the Uncanny Valley on its head by having actual actors play the human-looking androids. However, it was used for effect in some scenes with CGI-animated partially damaged androids being hunted down and put on a bonfire and a sequence with many identical boy and girl androids hanging in the factory. The part where David "breaks" after ingesting human food (he shudders to a stop and the left side of his face sags alarmingly) was particularly effective. Alas, a scene after that, where David is lying down on a operating table, still looking human, but with the "skin" on his chest peeled away, especially with them "testing" him; they flick something in him and his hand rises up slowly in a dead manner.
Most robots looked a tad too perfect, with smooth skin, perfect hairline and so on. They were sliding deeper into the valley the more you looked at them.
The Knave of Hearts is particularly creepy because unlike the Queen, Cat, and Tweedles, at first glance, he seems normal. It's only when he moves that you notice he's wrong: an effect achieved by lengthening his limbs and torso just a wee little bit too much to be properly human.
The Na'vi in Avatar had an odd, shiny skin tone (although this is actually Reality Is Unrealistic and closer to real life than most films). The movement physics can be seen as differing from human, being more flowing, although this is to be expected considering the difference is size, strength and a completely different environment for movement. The actors specifically had to move in a different way to humans - it's likely that if they walked in a human manner, people would complain more.
The facial proportions are very different. It's relatively subtle at first, but the eyes are 2 to 2.5 times larger than normal and more widely spaced...because the nose is about twice as wide and flattened considerably. The mouth is normal-sized, which serves to emphasize the other changes. The ears are not just hollowed and pointed, they're a full inch and a half higher on the head.
The less Na'vi-like avatars (such as Grace's) did this with the human nose, making it look disproportionate compared to the Na'vi faces, which look disproportionate compared to humans.
Avatar is often invoked as the "exception to the rule" of the CGI Uncanny Valley effect alienating (or disturbing) viewers (to the tune of $2 billion-plus box office and single-handedly causing the rebirth of 3D).
One thing that really helped here was a techonological breakthrough: a small camera worn by the actors could capture and record the subtler facial movements— in particular, the movements human eyes make. The lack of such movements tend to hamper other mo-cap films; The Polar Express in particular gave some people the heebie-jeebies with the dead-eyed look of the characters.
Mostly averted in Beowulf since everything is motion-captured in real-time, and the character design and graphics are similar to those from a modern video game. Most of the extras however (whom they didn't bother to do Mo-Cap with their faces) tend to fit squarely in the middle of the Valley.
Even with the motion cap. The faces just don't look right.
In the film adaptation of Bicentennial Man, when the protagonist gets a new, completely realistic android face, every blink is regular and accompanied by a little whirr. Creepiest thing ever.
However, this trope is deconstructed as Rupert starts making Andrew's new face, he mentions how minor flaws in human appearance, such as an asymmetrically shaped nose, make people more realistic looking.
The body of the medium in Black Sabbath is clearly a dummy, but that only makes it look more terrifying.
Many of the human characters except for Penny in Bolt have a a pinched, waxen look to their faces ranging from slightly weird to just plain creepy.
The Brady Bunch Movie and most its sequels somewhat fairly live in the Valley. The Movie family lives (or has lived) seemingly forever in the stylized 70's world of the original TV series which means that none of them have never gotten any older, none of the children never have graduated from any form of education (High School, Junior High, Elementary..and still have seemed to attend the same schools FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS!!), None of them have seem to bought new clothes (although this is averted by Marsha needing to get a job for new stuff; they must only buy Vintage or second hand.), and in the end absolutely NONE of their neighbors seem to notice this.
Also to add to the obviousness of this trope is that all of the main characters act Not..Quite..Right. Almost as if the Brady Family were in the interim of 30+ years after the original show were abducted then replaced with Aliens that don't quite know how to react with normal Humanity. However this is something that even their obnoxious next door neighbors do notice than the rest of the neighborhood (this is something that the Bradys' greedy Realtor next door neighbor exploits in order to have them evicted from their home.). To boot, most of the principal actors (as is common with most TV to theatrical film Remakes) bear very little resemblance to their original counterparts. Although for most of the film it really isn't creepy, just annoying. You'd think that after over 30 years their personalities would have evolved a little.
And for a final amount of Squick in the sequel, Marsha and Greg (even though have lived together in the same house for what in Real Life equates to their entire adolescences and most of their adulthoods) seriously consider to start dating...Each Other only shortly after learning that their parents possibly weren't legally married.
Even worse was an animatronic doll dubbed "Chuckesmee" that was originally intended as a stand-in until the director decided that it would never work.
In Bride of Frankenstein, the Bride looks mostly normal, unlike the original Monster, but her hair and wardrobe are famously peculiar, and Elsa Lanchester's performance as her is wonderfully off-putting. Her eyes are perpetually wide, yet her expression is almost completely blank. Her arms seem oddly stiff, her balance is just a little off, and the way she turns her head seems more birdlike than human. Then there's her unexplained, inhuman sounding hiss at the end. This is probably why, despite saying nothing and doing virtually nothing in her few minutes of screentime, the Bride became a One-Scene Wonder that's famous even today.
Similarly, the Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2005 version at least), they are all inhumanly small and all played by Deep Roy. Perhaps averted with the same characters in the 1971 film since orange skin and green eyelashes are far enough away from human to not fall into this category.
Although for some people, it's the other way around - the orange skin and green hair can make them look REALLY creepy, while the newer ones are human enough that, if you were to pass one in the street, you'd just think he was a strangely dressed little person.
Chucky of Childs Play in the first movie. As the movie progresses, Chucky starts gaining more and more human traits such as a receding hairline and skin imperfections.
A film called Clifford (completely unrelated to the Clifford the Big Red Dog) featured comedian Martin Short playing the titular 10 year old boy, Clifford. The producers didn't actually try to make Short look like a kid. They dressed him up in a suit and tie with shorts, and kept his adult face and voice. The end result put Clifford well into the uncanny valley and caused the movie to tank.
The heavy amount of makeup used to change actors' race, age and gender in Cloud Atlas outright fails more often than it works.
In The Dark Crystal, the two Gelflings are the most human-looking characters and the least convincing. Since they qualify as Petting Zoo People, however, they aren't quite as creepy as some of the other examples.
The film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code features Jean-Pierre Marielle as Jacques Sauniere, but for most of the time the character is onscreen he is a corpse splayed out on the floor of the Louvre, and it is really a realistic model of the actor. While the effect is terrific, Jean-Pierre Marielle himself and his wife were severely creeped out by the sight of "his" dead body, as he revealed in an interview that can be seen on the Special Edition DVD.
Drive, starring Ryan Gosling as a character whom is never given a name other than Driver and is more or less human most of the time, but seems able to just turn off all emotions at will for the purposes of kicking ass. Your mileage may vary about how well that qualifies him for this trope, but when he dons his human-like rubber stunt driving mask and practically stares someone into drowning himself in the ocean, this trope is in full swing.
In Daft Punk's Electroma, the main character robots have latex poured over their helmets in order to look more human. They end up just looking terrifying, with their still faces and staring eyes. Fortunately this is invoked, because the other robots in the town they're in are also horrified and drive them out. And then the movie gets sad.
Disney's Enchanted features the dragon version of the Uncanny Valley, with a villainess whose face is just a little strangely... well, animated.
The effects used to make Mr. Fantastic (as played by Ioan Gruffud) stretch in both Fantastic Four films are almost cartoonish, but can appear quite unsettling, even though they are sometimes played for laughs. It's just nowhere as effective as in the comics. It's also hard to accept The Thing as an actual being, and the uncanny valley creeps in when everyone treats him as a horribly mutated Ben Grimm, when it feels more like Michael Chiklis trapped in an uncomfortable costume. A more creepy example of Uncanny Valley in the films would be Doctor Doom in the early stages of his transformation, particularly the scar that has been "stitched" with metal staples, showing metallic tissue underneath.
Technically, however, neither the Thing or Dr. Doom qualify for "Uncanny Valley" status as both are indeed played by real-life humans simply wearing costumes, as opposed to being partially or completely rendered in CG.
The battle room drones in Flash Gordon. Tear the glasses off, and they have no eyes, just wires sticking out of empty holes!
Michael Myers' mask from Halloween creates this effect. If you're not paying attention, or viewing it in the dark, it looks human enough. At a passing glance, you might not even notice that it isn't his actual face. But when you get a good look at it, you notice something wrong. Very, very wrong. It looks like it was based on a human face, but one rendered soulless and inhuman by some unspeakable evil. It gives the impression that Myers used to be human, but is now some horrific parody of humanity. The effect is unsettling at first, but the longer you look at it, the more it stares back, like some terrible staring contest. And the mask is never going to blink.
Dr. Loomis' description of Michael's actual face fits this trope like a glove.
Loomis: I met him fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no, uh, conscience, no understanding and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
During the scene where they're using polyjuice potion to create duplicate Harrys, some of the intermediate states are quite disturbing. Fortunately, they're not on screen for long.
The people who produced the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire say, in the DVD extras, that the reason they changed Voldemort's eyes from red (as they were in the book), to looking quite like your everyday eyes, is that "if you don't leave in a huge part of the human in him, he's not going to scare you."
In the second Hellboy movie, the baby that Hellboy rescues has a CG-rendered face that falls deep into the Uncanny Valley. Justified in that there was no way for a real baby to be used in a scene with stunts like that!
Young Hellboy, his vacant eyes, and that overbite...
By many accounts, Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit has this problem stretched across a production rather than just characters or special effects. It was shot in 48 frames per second rather than the 24 FPS that serves as the standard for filmmaking, producing a smoother-looking, more realistic picture with much less motion blur. Unfortunately, this means that "fake" things that might not have shown up with a slower shutter rate become extremely visible now that the camera is sharp and fast enough to catch them. The result has been described as looking like a soap opera, a sitcom, or a BBC production, with lighting, makeup, and sets that clearly look fake. Notably, this problem does not show up with 24 FPS versions of the film.
E.B. in the film Hop. His fur and facial features is realistic enough to pass for that of a real rabbit. Yet the proportion of his head and body size just doesn't look right, and healthy rabbits aren't supposed to be that skinny. It just doesn't add up.
In the live action film of The Grinch, the Whos look like normal humans but with large ears and weirdly shaped noses...and it's rather unsettling.
The 2003 Hulk had special effects with a great level of detail for the title character, had a problem with the unlayered look on the Hulk's skin. Human skin has levels of translucency (one of the reasons it's so hard to emulate) giving it diverse textures and colors. The Hulk did not have this, making him look like he was molded from clay. This was fixed in the 2008Continuity Reboot where the Hulk's skin has a much more realistic sheen and depth, though it still had its problems, like the skin sometimes being too shiny, or the Hulk no longer being a Top-Heavy Guy.
The Hulk was further improved and redesigned in The Avengers, where one of the newest improvements was making him more resemble his actor Mark Ruffalo. This article talks about many of the challenges that went into designing him, such as scanning Ruffalo's skin and making sure it wasn't so green that it looked unnatural. “Green is really hard” indeed.
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie had incredibly creepy rubber masks worn by midgets that were supposed to be the titular characters. As their mouths weren't even capable of closing all the way, let alone natural movement, the effect is far more unsettling than any of the grotesque imagery the trading cards that the movie was based on could produce.
The Dark Seekers of I Am Legend were impressively done in terms of integrating film footage with their movements, but whenever you got a clean look at them, they were just enough Conspicuous CG to throw off the belief.
Spike Jonze's short film I'm Here is a very sweet and heartwarming film. However, the robots look a little...off. This is because they have very human-like facial expressions despite their artificial appearance, especially since the male robots have what look like computer cabinets for heads.
The odd Enki Bilal film Immortal has many eerie Conspicuous CGI side-characters who interact with the live actors. They're supposed to be mutants, gods, and people with strange body augmentations (mainly skin grafts), and seeing them next to live actors (even ones with ice-like blue hair and bluish-white skin) is jarring.
This was sad to have been done to show that most of people on Earth (except few main characters) have been dehumanized.
The Incubi from Ink purposely invoke this trope. Their overly large glasses, and screens in front of their faces exaggerate their features rather creepily◊.
In-Universe in I, Robot, Detective Spooner (Will Smith) asks why Doctor Calvin strives to make the robots so human, adding that people wouldn't trust them otherwise. He also adds that he finds the new models having faces makes them creepy.
In Let the Right One In the eyes of the vampire character reflect in the dark for just a second. Then the light comes on, and for half of another second you see cat-like slit pupils before they return to normal.
He originally wanted also to turn his mouth sideways, but they couldn't make this look remotely natural with his real chin moving normally, so this idea was thankfully scrapped.
A more subtle example would be Gríma Wormtongue, whose corpse-like makeup was meant to make him look fairly creepy. The part that really did it was that actor Brad Dourif shaved his eyebrows. Off-set and without makeup, people kept telling him there was something just not right about him. Additionally, his girlfriend was not pleased to hear he had apparently shaved his eyebrows for a second time.
Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Galadriel certainly dips towards the Uncanny Valley. There's something very unusual and not quite "normal" about her. For example, the eye shine when she speaks to the Fellowship in their first meeting. All other characters, including Celeborn, have a single rather large point of light reflected by their eyes. Galadriel's eyes reflect a globe of multiple tiny points of light. Then you consider that Galadriel is not only among the oldest, wisest and most powerful Elves in Middle-Earth, she is the only Elf in the films to have been to Valinor: she was born in the Undying Lands under the light of the Two Trees, and was one of the Noldor who went into exile in pursuit of the silmarils. Galadriel is literally living in two different worlds at once.
These effects are entirely deliberate. To produce the unique eye light reflection, a special "Galadi-light" (which reportedly looked like a christmas tree) with numerous small lights was constructed to be her spotlight. In addition, she was filmed at a different frame rate than the rest of the cast to produce her 'slow' movements... except for when she goes completely off the deep end when Frodo offers her the Ring and she shows what she would become if she took it.
The Mystery Man at Andy's party in David Lynch's Lost Highway. It takes you a while to work out what's so off about his face, gradually you realise that (well, among other things) it's his fairly subtle eyeshadow and lipstick in combination with the fact that he never blinks. He also has no eyebrows, which has the handy effect of making a face look slightly odd, usually without people knowing quite why unless they are looking for it.
Also, his eyes have no irises, just huge pupils.
In The Love Guru, there is a scene with a young Guru Pitka, which is just Mike Myers's head CGI-ed onto some kid's body. In addition to being conspicuous, it made his head look enormous.
Mars Attacks! had two martians disguised as a woman. It was deeply in the uncanny valley, but it didn't bother the guy who was hitting on her. Until the martians bit off his finger.
An interesting silent era example: In Metropolis, Brigette Helm effectively conveys the False Maria's "wrongness" with generally off behavior, particularly insect-like head twitching.
Intentionally used in MirrorMask, from The Jim Henson Company but with a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and directed by visual artist Dave McKean. It featured a scene of intentionally Uncanny Valley-tacular robots singing "Close To You" while hypnotizing the protagonist.
Moonwalker has a brief moment where, right at the end, Michael Jackson turns into a robot, then a spaceship, to fight the bad guys (somehow). If you look closely (or are unlucky enough to pause it on the shot) you can tell Michael's been swapped out for the model and it's really frigging creepy, like the Other Mother swooped in and replaced him with a doll.
Somehow done in live action with real actors by David Lynch in Mulholland Dr.. See Mr.◊ Roque◊, Mafia kingpin. This, incidentally, is Michael J. Anderson's only role as a regular-sized person! And The Cowboy◊, who is this despite being a seemingly normal person. He's able to get a dyed-in-the-wool Hollywood insider to stop snarking. Plus whatever it is behind Winkies. The too-chipper-to-be-real Betty Elms has this effect on some. The effect is magnified by dressing her in clothes that look as though they might be what she wore as a teenager: they clash with contemporary style, and don't fit her well.
Oddly enough, the more human looking Midians in Nightbreed are creepier than the ones who look just plain demonic. A perfect example is the guy with the crescent shaped head.
The poster for the movie◊ Orphan looks... wrong. Just vaguely creepy in the facial area, and you can't really tell how or why it's wrong. It's actually because the face is TOO symmetrical, because it's actually half the face mirrored to make a whole face. Human faces aren't perfectly symmetrical, so a perfectly symmetrical face goes into Uncanny Valley.
Judging from his performance in this promotional video, Michael Fassbender will be pulling this off rather nicely. It's the cheerful monotone, neutral expression, and the fact that he can apparently cry on demand that does it. Through the movie, small whirs can be heard with most of his movements, and the Uncanny Factor goes off the scale when his head gets pulled off by a furious Engineer. Arguably, it's played with in a scene where David 8 is shown dying his hair.
Guy Pierce's portrayal of Weyland also fits here, as the old age makeup makes him look not quite right.
Charlize Theron's character, Vickers, plays in Uncanny Valley for most of the film. Her ludicrously perfect skin, generally emotionless face, and perfect hair make you question if she's another Weyland product. She's not.
The Purge: The psychopathic gang is wearing masks that resemble human faces, but the masks invoke a feeling of wrongness to them. The poster itself presents what looks like a horrifying Slasher Smile.
The sci-fi comedy S1m0ne contains a bizarre example — depending on whether one believed the hype that surrounded the film. When the movie first came out, the filmmakers initially maintained the fiction that the character of S1m0ne, a virtual actress created by Al Pacino's character in the movie, was, in fact, a CG construct, and went so far as to credit the character as being played by S1m0ne. In reality, just as with Max Headroom, a flesh-and-blood actor, Rachel Roberts, played the character, and unlike Max, there really wasn't anything in the film to make S1m0ne look at all like a CG construct (which was a plot point). Nonetheless, the Uncanny Valley effect still occurred in placebo form, striking people who went into the film thinking that S1m0ne was, in fact, an actual special effect. It might explain why the film flopped and faded into obscurity almost instantly.
S1m0ne makes for a great case study in the Uncanny Valley. It showed that merely knowing (or in this case, even mistakenly thinking) that what you are looking at is a CG construct can fundamentally alter how you look at it. This explains why Pixar and DreamWorks Animation still use such "cartoony" styles in their films even with the technology they have — they know they're fighting an uphill battle against the Valley, so they avoid it entirely.
Something about the faces of Santa Claus and Merlin in the infamous Santa Claus (as seen on MST3K) isn't quite right. Yet the animatronic Santa in the toy shop window of that movie was both less realistic and clearly much creepier. And then there were the reindeer. Oh, the reindeer...
Invoked deliberately in Silent Hill. The nurses, especially, start out looking like ordinary mannequins. Then they start moving in that odd, jerky manner that instantly communicates that they are dangerous.
Another subtle touch to add to the nurses' creepiness factor is that, apparently, they had the actors perform all their actions in that scene in reverse, and then re-reversed the footage, so their movements don't quite seem right, but the casual viewer is not quite sure why.
In the film adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City, CGI is used to erase the actress's blink when Miho is sprayed with blood. Because it's practically impossible for any human to not blink when something hits him in the face, it serves to make her exceedingly creepy.
The facial prosthetics used by many of the characters in the movie to make them more closely resemble their characters from the comics tend to fall into the Valley as well. Benicio Del Toro in particular looks about half a step shy of being human. Reportedly, Robert Rodriguez wasn't going to give Del Toro prosthetics, because he already looked a lot like the character in the comics, but Del Toro insisted on it, possibly in recognition of this trope.
The Smurfs in their 3d movie are particularly creepy. It makes you sympathetic with Gargamel, kill them all!
The title character of Son of the Mask is a baby with extraordinary cartoon-like powers. Every time he uses them, you can spot the exact moment he stops being a real baby onscreen and becomes his CGI replacement, and the effect is creepy. Especially when he whispers "I must be losing my mind" over and over again into his dad's ear. Ugh.
Thankfully averted slightly with Otis the dog, who is much more cartoon-based in appearance and comes off as ugly cute. It helps that he's the woobie, too.
You know the clone pilots in the Star Wars prequels? Take a closer look at their faces. Yep, George Lucas just can't get enough CGI.
This is deliberately invoked in The Thrawn Trilogy - at the end of the second book, Luke and Han remove the masks from some of Thrawn's dead mooks and are deeply creeped out to find that every corpse has the same face. To say nothing of the trilogy's climax, when Luke finds himself forced to duel a Brainwashed and Crazy clone of himself.
The Bruce Willis movie Surrogates plays this trope straight, as almost every surrogate is intentionally "too perfect." This is especially evident on Bruce Willis' character's surrogate, who has the worst toupee in the world, and a scary-smooth face, which makes him look super-creepy. The main character's wife is likewise scary, particularly something about her Michael Jackson-esque nose. To add a dash of creepy, she works in a "beauty salon" where she peels off customers' faces and cleans them.
The fact that there is a whole planet of sad shut-ins living through these weird robots just digs that Valley deeper and adds another layer to a movie that's already morbid and creepifyin'.
Not just for humans, Tales from the Riverbank is a film about the characters from the children's show Hammy Hamster. The Tv show used real animals. The film used animatronic critters and it is horrifying.
The puppets in Team America: World Police were capable of incredibly subtle and detailed movements (in their faces). The producers decided they were too realistic, and thus too creepy, and decided to purposely scale them back a bit. Most notably when they make fun of the fact that the puppets can't really walk. They also used a program to precisely match the puppets' mouth movements to the dialogue, but the effect was too terrifyingly realistic, so they toned it down to make the puppets seem more puppet-like.
The turtles' faces in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), have invoked a surprisingly more human appearance than one might expect, leading for some to have had this reaction to them. Justified given that this is meant to be a realistic take on a story about giant mutated humanoid turtles. Also more than likely meant to be an Intended Audience Reaction. Not unexpectedly, images of the tie-in toys don't seem to get this reaction.
Some people have said that they found the Terminator in the first movie The Terminator creepy. Look closely and he doesn't look normal, and there's something funny about his eyes before he damages one. The reason his eyes look funny is that he's lost his eyebrows. James Cameron had Arnie's face sprayed with Vaseline to deliberately invoke this trope and make it appear that something wasn't quite right about his skin, but that you wouldn't consciously know what.
In the first film Reese mentions a never-shown T-600 model that had rubber skin. He also states they were easily spotted, one assumes because of this trope. When we do get to see the actual T-600s in Salvation, they are in fact creepy simply because their rubber masks are so crude and lifelike, yet they are humanoid in appearance and mannerisms.
The T-1000 fits this trope for most of his screentime in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In the 'making of' documentary, James Cameron mentions he cast Robert Patrick because "he moves like a cat". The T-800 visually scans everything, but the T-1000 is much more tactile, because it can morph into anything it physically touches. In the scene where he talks to John's foster parents and again when he arrives at the mental hospital to ask the night nurse to see Sarah Connor, he behaves like a normal person (even smiling in a natural way in the former scene), but still puts out a subtly menacing vibe. If you watch the T-1000 carefully, you'll notice that except for when he's speaking, he doesn't breathe. Being a more advanced terminator and remaining more true to James Cameron's original idea of the terminator as an under-the-radar infiltrator (he disguises himself as a cop for crying out loud), it's expected that he could more accurately mimic a human posture, mannerisms and demeanor, but still do so in such a way that there was still something "off" and spooky about him.
This was also used to great effect with the CGI T-800 cameo in Terminator Salvation. The way the inherently imperfect CGI drove Arnold's face right into the Uncanny Valley made the T-800 look like a genuinely creepy soulless killing machine again.
Think about what it must be like in universe for the Resistance. The Terminators are designed to infiltrate human outposts or hideouts to kill specific targets (like officers), or to whole-sale slaughter EVERYTHING in their path. KNOWING this, the Resistance has gone to great lengths to detect them, relying mainly on dogs (they can hear and smell the 'machine' bits in the endos that the humans can't). Although, considering that most of the people in those hideouts are on the verge of starvation or mental breakdown. Even the Resistance members appear malnourished (look at Kyle Reese in both the first film, and Salvation), this is where the T-800s stand out. They have the muscle tone of someone who's been lifting weights and eating a lot to build mass (unintentional when first filmed, as Arnold was a body builder before going into acting, but in universe is a result of the needed muscle mass to conceal the endoskeleton), and has a cold, calculating expression, and the movements are not fluid, but deliberate and repetitive. For these reasons alone, Skynet sends its terminators in wearing cloaks so as to conceal those features... But to look into the eyes of a machine that is bent on exterminating you... that alone is unsettling.
A lot in Tideland, from Jeliza Rose's borderline sociopathic behavior, to some of the effects, like when Jeliza's face appears on one of her doll-heads, which actually makes Oancitizen jump.
A scene featuring Peter Cushing in the Zucker Abrahams Zucker comedy film Top Secret was filmed in reverse then played normally, giving the whole scene a slightly "off" feel. It's not until a couple gags of Val Kilmer "throwing" books back on the shelf and Cushing sucking dust back on to a book that it's clear exactly why. What 'helps up the creepiness of the scene even further is that the dialog by Kilmer and Lucy Gutteridge plays normally, while the track with Cushing's dialog is played in reverse.
Another inadvertent in a Schwarzenegger movie: Total Recall (1990), with the JohnnyCab robot driver, who is like a robotic version of Robert Picardo (who also provides the voice). He's even creepier when he's melting.
And let's not forget Quaid's "old lady" disguise, where he can only say "TWO WEEKS!"
Jeff Bridges' CGIed face in TRON: Legacy fell into this category for a lot of viewers.
The biggest problem with this is at the beginning of the movie, we see a flashback of Flynn while he was young which used CLU's CG facial model and it's exactly the same. The problem is in the eyes and eyebrows. Clu (And flashback Flynn) have a solid immovable brow and their eyes almost never widen the way Jeff Bridges do and did in the original film. The lack of emoting is the biggest problem with the CG model. That's fine for CLU, but makes no sense for the younger version of Flynn!
Invoked with the programs, who are all just slightly off, from the way they move and emote to the fact that their pupils are shaped like hexagons instead of being round. Even Quorra had her moments. The sirens take this Up to Eleven with monotone, digitized voices and robotic movements that put CLU to shame at points.
This kind of twitchy movement in ghost-themed films is probably common enough to be considered a trope in itself; it can be traced back at least as far as Jacobs Ladder.
The "androids" in Westworld actually have normal facial expressions (since they're played by real people), but it's mentioned that their designers never quite managed to give them realistic hands. When they really fall into this trope, though, it's when they're partly disassembled.
While we're on the subject of Alice in Wonderland, BKN Animation's 2008 film "What's The Matter With The Hatter?" Seems like you average cheap mid-to-late 2000s direct to video childrens CGI movie. Then you realize that ALMOST EVERYTHING IS CEL SHADED. Alice stares at you with wide, soulless eyes, her mouth movements are erratic, and the Cheshire Cat...!!
He has a lot more strength than an average man. He is shown ripping the industrial dip barrel open with one hand.
His skin is pale and lifeless.
His vocal cadence is either too clipped or too drawn out to be normal. He talks, just, Like, THIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSS!
X-Men Origins: Wolverine features a cameo of Professor Xavier, which uses CGI to de-age him. The problem is, it was less-than-spectacular CGI and it just succeeds in making him look really creepy.
For those of you who haven't seen this film - he looks like Humpty Dumpty.
The same effect was used in X3 to de-age both Xavier and Magneto, but was much better-looking and a lot more convincing.
Intentionally done with the Thermians◊ in Galaxy Quest, as they're actually octopus-like aliens disguised as humans. Their skin is milky-white and appears to be completely smooth. They're almost always smiling in an unnatural way, especially the leader Mathesar. The smiling, at least, is justified by them being in the presence of their heroes. Their movements are a little jerky, though. Then there's Enrico Colantoni's hairpiece, where not a single hair moves.