Follow TV Tropes


Screamer Trailer

Go To

So you're sitting in a movie theater, minding your own business, when all of a sudden a trailer for a scary movie comes on! It looks cool and the plot is abo— blooD hatE deatH!— what the hell?!

Wow! That hidden frame/half a second flash cut with the scream sure was scary, more so than a Cat Scare, and the pale stringy haired girl was frea— PAIN EVIL KUMQUAT gyah! Okay, a little less scary, but still surprising.

So anyway. Trailers, films, and Video Games that can't rely on time to build suspense will use the Screamer Trailer to scare and shock with glimpses of the movies' monst— Zuul! ...mayhem, or even random things, often paired with a scream or other scary and loud sound to catch the viewer by surpri— pIstAcHiO AVocADo iCecrEAm! Okay, you can cut it out now, it's not scary anymore.

In fact, this technique is quickly moving towards becoming a Discredited Trope from overuse. This still shows up played straight in several Internet videos premised precisely on this kind of scare. Some moviegoers have even become desensitized to the strobe light scare, and come to expect the last half second of every such movie trailer to contain one fina— Boo! Oh go fuck yourself. (exits)

Contrast Subliminal Advertising. Compare Last Note Nightmare.

Troper General's Warning: Strobe light effects can be hazardous to the health of small children, epileptics, or the overly cute. We recommend using Rickrolls instead.


    open/close all folders 


     Films — Animation 
  • Used At the beginning of the trailer for Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar to illustrate Nathan Explosion's state of mind following the events of Doomstar Requiem. Although because the film is still a comedy, it's followed by some Mood Whiplash
    Nathan: Ummmm....hi...What?

     Films — Live-Action  

  • The classic example is Suspiria (1977), which told you nothing about the movie except that the word "Suspiria" was highly relevant.
    "You can run... from Suspiria..."
  • Thir13en Ghosts and House on Haunted Hill (1999) use the Screamer Trailer effect in-movie, as new ghosts are revealed or about to do something nasty to the heroes.
  • Most Asian horror movies with a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, such as The Ring.
  • Sunshine:
    • Subverted in a sequence in which the main cast's wandering through a seemingly abandoned spaceship is intercut with flashing images which, at first, look like closeups of human faces with far too much red...and are revealed immediately afterwards to be from a photo of the crew celebrating a birthday party against a red backdrop.
    • Played straight with Captain "I've melted my skin off and can still live despite my blood bleeding blood from my blood".
  • No sound, but this happens several times in Fight Club, three or four times with Tyler Durden, and once at the end of the movie with a... male body part. (It was earlier mentioned that editing single frames of porn into movies was just one of Tyler's weird hobbies.)
  • One trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince involves evil, resurrected Voldemort flashing on top of his younger Flash Back self in Albus' memories.
  • Parodied in Don't, a faux trailer in the Grindhouse double-feature. It was filmed by Edgar Wright and stars Jason Isaacs, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, all of whom are British, but none of them get to speak, as a parody of those trailers that keep the movie's country of origin a secret.
  • The teaser trailer for The Fly II consists of nothing but a heart monitor beating normally which gets progressively faster with only the sounds of screaming when it reaches its breaking point. Surprisingly effective for a low-budget approach with no film footage.
  • In August 2018, an infamous YouTube ad for The Nun centered around a fake Apple volume bar going all the way down, inciting the viewer to turn it up, only to be greeted with the film's villain's Nightmare Face filling the screen and screaming. Oh, and did we mention it was unskippable? The ad was promptly removed—as it violated YouTube's policies—and was replaced with another jump scare-less ad.

     Live Action TV  

  • These happen just before the cut to commercials in Ghost Adventures. They are definitely quite cre GAAGHHepy. It DOES NOT HELP that they are usually accompanied by a split-second shot of a Demonic Dummy with empty black eye sockets, standing on a static-y background.

     Theme Parks  
  • The 2008 commercial for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights features a man attempting to summon Bloody Mary. The results...are as you would expect (Mary blasts through the mirror screaming bloody murder). Although you can see the scare coming from a mile away, it still somehow manages to be quite frightening regardless.

     Video Games  

  • The trailer for Dead Space (a science-fiction horror game) starts out with shots of a spacecraft and its dead crew, accompanied with a creepy lullaby. About thirty seconds in, screamer scenes from the game start appearing. The trailer eventually fades more and more into the screamers, and eventually just plain features the gory scary bits.
    • The sequel's trailer is even worse, as it's just scary bits with the rhyme playing over them.

     Western Animation  

  • Invader Zim had the episode "Mysterious Mysteries", where the host of the eponymous Show Within a Show has frequent flashes of a somewhat overenthusiastic-looking Dib, complete with sound bite.
    • There's also a silent example that appears for a single frame in afew of the episodes involving Gir in "Duty mode" coated in blood. This was put in to spite the network when, due to Executive Meddling, the scene featuring the frame was cut.
  • Adventure Time used this for the trailer for "The Lich" that aired directly after "I Remember You". Seeing The Lich's face zoom in at you directly after Simon Petrikov-era Ice King gives a young Marceline a toy during the Mushroom War is unsettling.

he comes WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!


Video Example(s):



Video Nasties-style Britsploitation Screamer Trailer directed by Edgar Wright, with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Matthew McFadyen, Mark Gatiss, Jason Isaacs and narration by Will Arnett. The main joke of the trailer is that it's the American trailer for a British horror film, and the distributors, in order to prevent the audience from finding out that it's British, have cut the trailer so that none of the characters are heard speaking and we get no idea of the plot. The title is a reference to American International Pictures' releases of British or European horror films under "snazzier" titles - specifically, a film whose Spanish and Italian titles translate to I Do Not Profane the Sleep of the Dead, but was released in the USA as Don't Open the Window! even though there's no particular emphasis on windows in the film.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / RealTrailerFakeMovie

Media sources: