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Kubrick Stare

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"In that showdown, and at several other times in the film, Kubrick indulges his favorite closeup, a shot of a man glowering up at the camera from beneath lowered brows. This was the trademark visual in A Clockwork Orange, and Jack Nicholson practiced it in The Shining. What does it mean? That Kubrick thinks it's an interesting angle from which to shoot the face, I think."

The Kubrick Stare is really quite simple to pull off. You simply do the following:

  1. Tilt head down
  2. Look up beneath eyebrows

...and voila! Instant super-creepy look!

It generally signifies that the character in question is either really, really pissed or really, really deranged, and the person they're looking at is really, really screwed. Other times — usually when combined with a smile — it means they're feeling really, really clever (regardless of whether or not they actually are). It's arguably the most easily executed type of Death Glare.

When a show or film utilizes the look, it's often a homage to Stanley Kubrick. Either way, it's really creepy and ominous. Although depending on the context, it can also be very badass.

If the character in question is normally a Shrinking Violet, this is a sign that said character has just been pushed way too far, and whoever's responsible will almost certainly regret doing so.

Often accompanied by Creepy Shadowed Undereyes, Red Eyes, Take Warning, a Forehead of Doom, a Psychotic Smirk or a Slasher Smile, and also a reveal matched with Scary Shiny Glasses. If a character combines this with Finger-Tenting and/or a Psychotic Smirk, odds are, they're a Manipulative Bastard. Heroic examples often are used for Staring Down Cthulhu. See also: Hidden Eyes, Death Glare, and Disapproving Look. Compare Primal Stance and Limp and Livid.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: It happens in a super contrived and obvious way. Lacking a forehead and eyebrows, the instant Baymax the robot is ordered to kill his helmet tilts forward inexplicably, giving him a permanent Kubrick Stare.
  • Coco:
    • Elena gives one to Miguel as she is marching up to him just as he is about to play guitar for the mariachi guy.
    • A Maestro gives one to Ernesto after the latter has been exposed as a fraud and a murderer.
  • Corpse Bride: Emily pulls one off late in the movie.
  • Elsa in Frozen does it at the end of "Let It Go" and while fighting the Duke's guards.
  • At the climax of Hercules, Hercules himself does this when he decides to rescue Meg's soul from Hades.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • When Quasimodo is finally persuaded by the gargoyles to fight back against Frollo, he looks down into the street, grimacing for one of the few times in the film as the chorus begins to break out in Latin chants.
    • There is an instance where Esmerelda gives Frollo one when he essentially offers to save her from being burned at the stake if she sleeps with him. Just before the stare, she spits in his face.
  • The Incredibles:
    • Syndrome uses it multiple times, including:
      • When he reveals his identity to Mr. Incredible.
      • When he walks away from Mr. Incredible in a later scene in the movie, grumbling an Ironic Echo.
    • Bob uses it a couple of times too: during the scene where his boss is chewing him out and forbidding him from trying to stop a mugging, and later, after Syndrome mocks him, immediately after everyone thinks Bob's family has died. He gives Syndrome the stare as he lunges in for an (attempted) kill.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Twilight gives a few of these toward Tempest to show defiance as she sings her Villain Song, moments before her Dark and Troubled Past is revealed.
  • The Prince of Egypt: After Moses returns his princely ring, Rameses holds it tight in his fist, his head bowed in sorrow, then suddenly glares up at Moses.
    • He also glares at Moses in a similar way as he grieves over the death of his son.
  • In Ratatouille, Anton Ego somehow manages to do this to Linguini when the two first meet, even though Anton's standing — looming, really — over a seated Linguini.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
    • The Queen when she orders the huntsman to kill Snow White.
    • The monster trees' look and the evil glowing eyes in the darkness during the spooky forest scene, although it's just Snow White's imagination.
  • Tangled's Rapunzel and Flynn, at least in this poster. See also Dreamworks Face.
  • Deluded Buzz in Toy Story 3. It's even mentioned by name in the DVD Commentary.
  • Treasure Planet: Jim after his fight with Silver over the map when Silver turns to leave and orders Morph to come.

  • Employed by Krook, the unpleasant rag-merchant in Bleak House:
    His watchfulness of [Jarndyce] was incessant... he got opposite to him, and drawing his hand across and across his open mouth with a curious expression of a sense of power, and turning up his eyes, and lowering his grey eyebrows until they appeared to be shut, seemed to scan every lineament of his face.
  • In Dracula, when the asylum patient Renfield receives a visitor, he "s[its] down on the edge of his bed with his head down, but with his eyelids raised".
  • The cover of Hand of Thrawn: Vision of the Future has this.
  • The Harry Potter series refers to this as well; in Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix Lestrange's mugshot apparently shows her with a Kubrick Stare (judging by its description).
  • In The Kiss, Charles shoots a very murderous one at Pierre after catching Pierre kissing his wife.
  • In Perelandra, the Un-Man gives Ransom an extraordinarily creepy one, judging from the description and the effect it has on Ransom.
  • The main cover of Poison by Chris Wooding features the eponymous character doing one, complete with noir-style coloring.
  • In the first Vampire Academy book, Natalie gives this glare to Rose when she she turns Strigoi to bust her father Victor out of jail, approaching her with a glare so cold and dangerous it chills her to the bone. She then beats her within an inch of her life.

  • One of the opening shots of Sia's music video for "Elastic Heart" features Maddie Ziegler making this face at Shia LaBeouf.
  • This, combined with a Slasher Smile, has become the trademark pose for the electronic artist Aphex Twin, first featured on his "Richard D. James Album".
  • Featured heavily in EPICA's "unleashed" music video, mostly coming from Simone Simons, but also the rest of the band at the end of the video.
  • Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta has become famed for leveling "The Psycho Stare" at any camera in his vicinity. This has done nothing to quell the rumors about his basement of unspecified horrors.
  • Oomph!'s singer Dero Goi does this at the end of the music video of Labyrinth.
    • Also worth noting that for the majority of the video, he looks like a cross between Alex DeLarge and the Mad Hatter.
  • Regal Pinion's page has a picture of him doing this, that same picture is also part of the cover of his album, "Shadow Plays".
  • They Might Be Giants singer John Linnell is made for this with his crazy sparkly eyes and slightly ridiculous forehead. He frequently expresses one during interviews as he is not a very gregarious man.
  • Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park have used this quite a bit, especially earlier in the group's career, namely the latter vocalist three minutes and fourteen seconds into the video for Crawling.
  • Blur's video for "The Universal" contains several references to 'Clockwork Orange', so Damon Albarn does one or two of these, as well as a rare side-angle version.
  • Hatsune Miku at the beginning of the High Definition PV of Nebula, especially in this preview.
  • Jay Reatard gives a creepy Kubrick stare on the cover of his album 'Watch Me Fall' in what is clearly an homage to Nicholson in The Shining. Can be seen here
  • Rob Zombie does his own imitation of Alex's stare in the music video for Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy) which itself is based on A Clockwork Orange.
  • The art on the CD of Jerry Cantrell's Boggy Depot features him giving such a smile.
  • David Bowie does this throughout the video for "Valentine's Day", a sweet-sounding tune about mass murder.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic, of all people, does this during the music video for "Foil"
  • Exaggerated in the full video for Poets of the Fall's "Drama for Life," as the madman Ghost in the Machine enjoys staring at the viewer while the downward angle of his head results in totally Hidden Eyes due to a Face Framed in Shadow.
  • Eminem does this in the Blood Bath scene in the music video for "3 a.m."
  • The deliberately low-fi cgi version of Danny Elfman does throughout the video for Happy, except when it warps, twists out of shape and disintegrates in an extremely creepy way.


    Professional Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Very common in modern video game box art in general. [1]
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Damon Gant has one. His tendency to hold that pose for long dramatic pauses has contributed to his creepy reputation.
    • Edgeworth also has a pretty good one.
    • So has Apollo Justice, which is part of the reason why a fraction of the fanbase is convinced that Damon Gant is his biological father.
    • During his Villainous Breakdown, Kristoph Gavin combines this with a Twitchy Eye for maximum creepiness. This is also the expression he's holding behind his Scary Shiny Glasses, though you can't see this until the last case.
  • Hazama of BlazBlue usually reverts to his Terumi state when he's the kind of angry required for this trope, but that doesn't mean he can't do it. One of the most infamous instances is the true ending of Slight Hope, when he lost all of his plans to, and has finally run out of patience with, Makoto Nanaya.
  • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Soma Cruz's character image get this expression when he's influenced by Dracula, but not the rest of the time.
  • You cannot kill the Messiah.
  • Conker of Conker's Bad Fur Day does this in the first scene, in a parody of A Clockwork Orange.
  • Fenris of Dragon Age II does this during your first meeting, when you ask if he intends to do with his former master.
  • Quite a few of the talking heads of Fallout and Fallout 2 had this as their "angry" expression.
    • In FO2, the Kubrick Stare ratchets up in increments as you pushed their buttons. In particular contrast with First Citizen Lynette's "superior civilization" poise, which would fade until her lips were locked in a snarl.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroth does this in the famous 'Nibelheim in flames' cutscene, both in the the original game and the updated version in Advent Children and Crisis Core. Sephiroth's Kubrick Stare also frequently appears in his more recent official artwork.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
    • Edelgard’s retainer, Hubert, does this in his early supports with Byleth, warning them that they better live up to Edelgard’s standards, and that he’ll be keeping an eye on them in case they ever get in Edelgard’s way.
    • Marianne unintentionally gives one to Ashe in their C Support, with him telling her that it makes her look creepy.
    • If Byleth chooses to side with Edelgard in the Holy Tomb, Rhea will give an inverted Kurbrick Stare, by lifting her head up and staring her eyes down at them, while declaring to have passed judgment upon them.
  • Child Alma from F.E.A.R. is fond of doing these.
    • Same with the Point Man. Seems it's genetic
    Jankowski: "It's something about his eyes. Like he's looking right through you"
  • Freddy Fazbear bears this in the game's cover art in a similar vein to Alex DeLarge.
  • You will seldomly see Arthur from the Ghosts 'n Goblins series without this expression. Consider how Nintendo Hard the games from said series are, can you really blame him for looking so upset all the time? On the other hand, one could also interpret this as him being a focused, no-nonsense Determinator.
  • In The Godfather, upon becoming the Don of the Corleones, the player character Aldo delivers an epic one to the camera. Witness for yourselves.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Terra does this sometimes as he is very tall and hunches over somewhat. Particularly notable is the one he gives Master Xehanort in the opening after the latter nearly eradicates Ventus.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, as you further corrupt your party members to the Dark Side, their portraits evolve into this.
  • Link in The Legend of Zelda series, pretty much every time he's Staring Down Cthulhu. Special mention to Skyward Sword, where he does it particularly often. The first notable time is when Ghirahim introduces himself, holding it through the entire monologue.
  • Shinji Naruse does this from time to time in Lux-Pain. You'll know you're seeing it when you can't see his pupils.
  • Mass Effect 3: When questioned by Admiral Hackett on how they got the krogan and salarians to cooperate (answer: by sabotaging the genophage cure), Shepard's response of "careful diplomacy" is accompanied by a Kubrick Stare and Psychotic Smirk.
  • Heroic example: Almost every piece of official Mega Man Zero artwork shows Zero like this.
  • Every official concept artwork of Solid Snake ever drawn or rendered.
  • Erron Black from Mortal Kombat X has a pretty nice one going on in his X-Ray attack.
  • Any of the characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 could qualify when they get a critical hit with their Persona. Especially the Protagonists and Antagonists
  • If Futaba in Persona 5 is romanced she will try to give the Protagonist a cute look, only to have it turn into this by accident.
  • Cyrus does this in the title sequence of Pokémon Platinum. It tells you exactly what kind of guy he is before you even learn his name.
  • Lucas Baker, an antagonist of Resident Evil 7, pulls this look off in an official illustration. [2]
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • In Starcraft Kerrigan both on the cover and her in-game avatar.
  • The Tournament menu of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has Mario of all characters giving one to the player. And before that, he had given a similar look to the viewer on the box art of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • System Shock: SHODAN's avatar depicts her giving this expression in both the first and second game. The trailer for the third game has her doing an inverted version.
  • The "Meet the Engineer" video in Team Fortress 2 ends on this, in spite of eye-concealing goggles.
  • Lee Chaolan from Tekken 2 [3]
  • Solid Snake's codec face in Metal Gear Solid, staring at you from under his bandana like you owe him money.

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Lord Byron (yes, it's very old) called this the 'under look'.
  • None other than Stanley Kubrick himself, all the freakin' time.
  • Skandar Keynes, the actor who played Edmund Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia, does it a lot. A few examples are on his page.
  • Also of the NewsRadio alumni, Dave and Foley.
  • Many animals will express their aggression by taking this position. If an animal flattens their ears back while giving a Kubrick Stare, they may be planning to attack.
  • Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers describes his "seductive stare" as the "Classic Kiedis Chin Tilt". Needless to say, it is very much a Kubrick Stare.
  • Often used by fashion models as a stock pose of seduction.
  • Christine (formerly 'Christian') Weston Chandler used to do this pretty often, naturally. Her fans have even dubbed it "The Creepy Stare". An example (pre-transition). In most cases of her doing this, though, it's probably unintentionally creepy and just normal for her, a symptom of her autism whereby she can't internalize emotional reactions nor display them properly. To her credit, she doesn't do it very often now since she seems to be much more comfortable having her picture taken than she used to be.
  • Lee Unkrich's cat is pretty good at it.
  • Check out the stare on Perry Smith in his mugshots. How did Truman Capote ever fall for that guy?
  • Oddly, a benign version of this: Princess Diana had a habit of adopting this posture.
  • Adolf Hitler had quite the impressive one in some pictures, particularly on the most well-known cover of Mein Kampf.
  • Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propagandist, gives the photographer a hard look after finding out that he's Jewish.
  • In chess, or in any type of competitive game, the Kubrick Stare is a common tactic used by players to intimidate, annoy, confuse, or discomfort their opponents. Mikhail Tal, the Eighth World Chess Champion, was a chess player well known for his stares. It also didn't help his opponent's case that Tal was a tactical genius like no other on the chessboard. One of Tal's opponent's, Pal Benko, was so uncomfortable with Tal's gaze that he wore sunglasses during a game to avoid it. Watch the reaction of one of Tal's opponents to his Kubrick Stare.
  • If you're tall and hard of hearing, you'll find yourself doing this unintentionally while trying to read the lips of whomever you're talking to.
  • Kirk Douglas was very good at this in his younger days. Examples here.
  • Peter Strzok, an FBI agent who became a controversial figure in the Trump/Russia Investigation, made this with a smile during a hearing.
  • In one particularly eerie photo, Columbine shooter Eric Harris can be seen doing this, with the other shooter Dylan Klebold standing right beside him, pulling what appears to be a Slasher Smile.
  • This seems to be part of political pundit Ben Shapiro's public image
  • The shoebill constantly has a face-aimed-down-eyes-looking-up posture. From most angles it looks a bit dopey, but when viewed from the front it looks perturbed or even malicious.
  • Donald Trump's mugshot, taken after being indicted by the State of Georgia for meddling in the 2020 election, garnered widespread attention online due to him appearing to pull a Kubrick stare, scowling at the camera with his head titled down. The mugshot immediately became a subject of Memetic Mutation because of this, with one popular image comparing it with other such stares in Stanley Kubrick's films.


Shikimori's Intense Stare

After saving Izumi from being hit by a speeding truck, Shikimori gives him a very intense stare.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / KubrickStare

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