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Uncanny Valley / Live-Action Films

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This animatronic baby was almost used in the Twilight movie series. Fortunately for our dreams, wiser heads prevailed...

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In General:

  • 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.
  • When living humans are animated via stop-motion, the result is often creepy and unnatural. Doubly so if they are filmed moving deliberately slowly but with the camera running at low speed, so that they move at normal speed on playback but look all twitchy and deranged.
    • See the remake of House on Haunted Hill (1999) for this in action.
    • This effect was used deliberately in 1999's Stir Of Echoes to emphasize the murdered girl's status as a ghost.
    • Which is also used to rather spooky effect in both The Ring and The Grudge.
    • 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 Jacob's Ladder.
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  • In old movies where white people wear blackface, this trope will definitely be in play. The people who do it look more like monsters than actual Black people (unfortunately, that may have been the point...)


  • In Schwarzenegger's movie The 6th Day, Arnie buys his daughter an animatronic doll thing. The movie gives the impression that the doll is very popular in the future, but it looks creepy. It comes to its demise when it's destroyed and slowly says "I have a boo-boo."
  • 10,000 BC: Whose bright idea was it to give the half-Brazilian chick blue eyes?
  • 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 look like the unholy offspring of the Burger King for the creepiness involved. That's Julie Taymor for you.
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  • The unnaturally toothy smile of one of the eponymous characters in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (guess which one) is surprisingly disturbing.
  • The Spielberg movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence turns the Uncanny Valley on its head by having actual actors play the human-looking androids. However, it's used for effect in some scenes with CGI-animated partially damaged androids being hunted down and put on a bonfire at the Flesh Fair, 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) is particularly effective. Alas, a scene after that, where David is lying on an 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 (Jude Law's prosti-bot character Joe, for example) look a tad too perfect, with smooth skin, a perfect hairline, and so on. They slide deeper into the valley the more you look at them.
  • Aladdin (2019) has Will Smith’s Genie who from the original trailer falls squarely into this trope. In an effort to replicate the large torso of the cartoon Genie, the remake Genie has a weirdly muscular torso which is at extreme odds with Will Smith’s face, which also doesn’t look right due the shape of the Genie’s head. Fortunately since Genie takes a normal human form for most of the movie the Uncanny Valley-ness isn’t as severe as it could’ve been.
  • The remake of Alice in Wonderland (2010) by (who else?) is a haven for this. The mix of live-action, CGI, and motion-capture makes for some freaky Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dums, the Cheshire Cat and an uncannily disproportionate Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen.
    • The Knave of Hearts is particularly creepy because unlike the Queen, Cat, and Tweedles, he seems normal at first glance. 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 White Queen just feels slightly weird due to the exaggerated dark make-up and flaunting mannerisms. You might say she's adorably wrong in this sense. Anne Hathaway claimed that that the White Queen is, by nature, just as demented as her sister, but is willfully forcing herself to be good.
    • The Caterpillar. Alan Rickman's face? Very nice to look at. Alan Rickman's face on a caterpillar?! No. Sorry, but an insect's face should not emote like a human's.
  • Alita: Battle Angel somewhat infamously chose to give the main character Big Anime Eyes in a live-action movie, which naturally got a lot of reactions of this nature. Especially odd because the actress, Rosa Salazar, already looks very much like the original character, making one wonder why they went through the trouble of having her do motion-capture.
  • Amélie: While Amélie looks pretty normal, the cover/poster rendition of her is a bit unsettling. Those eyes...
  • The thick-furred aliens in Attack the Block are an animalistic example: at a distance, they'd look pretty much like bears or apes, if not for their incredible Vantablack fur.
  • The Na'vi in Avatar have 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 in size and 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) do 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 technological 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 tends 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.
  • Bicentennial Man: invoked The valley is Discussed by Rupert when he starts making Andrew's new face, describing how minor flaws in human appearance, such as an asymmetrically shaped nose, make people more realistic looking. It's about getting to the other side of the valley, where the sharp incline to human-like appears.
  • The body of the medium in Black Sabbath is clearly a dummy, but that only makes it look more terrifying.
  • Brazil: The baby-faced mask worn by the interrogator/torturer.
  • Renesmee, Bella's baby from Breaking Dawn Part I. She's like a moving Creepy Doll.
    RiffTrax: Jack-Jack from The Incredibles looked more realistic than this thing!
    • Even worse is an animatronic doll dubbed "Chuckesmee" (pictured) 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.
  • For Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror, director Andrea Bianchi cast dwarf actor Peter Bark as the young child Michael, in order to circumvent Italian laws restricting the use of child actors in violent or sexual situations. Unfortunately, this had the effect of making the character fall head-first into the valley. It doesn't help that his English dub actor puts little to no effort into making him sound like an actual child.
  • The same applies to The Cat in the Hat with Thing 1 and Thing 2. The Cat himself is no better; you can see the outline of Mike Myers' head through the makeup. And then there’s the Fish... it's a little unclear just WHAT they were trying to do with him, but it looks like they were trying to pull off a cross between the Fish from the book and an actual fish that you'd see in real life - and it results in a really, REALLY freaky-looking character design.
  • The trailer for the 2019 movie adaptation of Cats became infamous immediately for its "digital fur technology" that it uses to make its live actors look like cat people with very human proportions. The fact that the actors actually move like cats doesn't help. Many comparisons to the below-mentioned Sonic design have been made. Then the actual movie came out, adding mice and roaches with human faces, plus Idris Elba as a cat with inexplicably Idris-Elba-coloured fur (which ends up on full display when he takes off his Badass Longcoat), to the mayhem.
    Jenelle Riley: Cats is pure Nightmare Fuel. The rejects from The Island of Doctor Moreau putting on a show is bad enough, but add to that more crotch shots than a Michael Bay movie and every imaginable pun...and that still won't prepare you for the hellscape that is children's faces CGI'd onto mice.
  • Deliberately invoked by the victims of the Serial Killer in The Cell: He drowns, then bleaches his female victims to resemble dolls, and when the therapist journeys into his mind they're captive but "alive." Naturally, one of them has a kigurumi mask.
  • 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. For some people, though, this works in the other direction - 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.
  • Chicago comes at this from the other side. To show how Billy Flynn uses Roxie to manipulate the press, "Press Conference Rag" features Renée Zellweger acting as a ventriloquist's dummy and a chorus of reporters made up to look like marionettes. The effect is quite chilling.
  • Chucky of Child's 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. Justified, as Chucky actually is turning human as a result of having the soul of a serial killer transferred into him via voodoo magic.
  • In Cinderella (2015), the mice turning into horses can look comically weird, or really freaky. The end result is fine, but midway through the transformation there are some odd bits, such as horses with really big ears. The lizardmen, however, still look creepy.
  • Clifford (completely unrelated to Clifford the Big Red Dog) features comedian Martin Short playing the eponymous 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 puts 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.
  • 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 a really 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.
  • In Die Another Day, Zao and his pale, hairless, diamond-encrusted face.
  • Drive, starring Ryan Gosling as a character who 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. This is invoked because the other robots in the town they're in are also horrified and drive them out.
  • Disney's Enchanted features the dragon version of the Uncanny Valley, with Narissa's dragon face being just a little strangely... well, animated.
  • Everything Must Go has a bizarre Special Effect Failure in the background of a scene: Nick and Delilah are conversing in front of her picture window as her children play outside- the children go from moving and playing normally to suddenly becoming unnaturally frozen for a full six seconds, with the adults seeming not to even notice. Most likely the best take of the scene was one the kids weren't present for, so they had to be composited in for continuity... But it's unsettling once you notice, and apparently this even led to Pop Culture Urban Legends, such as a theory that the child actors were mind-controlled and something accidentally triggered them to freeze in place.
  • Evil Dead 2: Ash's dancing stop-motion skeleton girlfriend and Henrietta the Deadite!!!
  • According to the film-makers of Ex Machina, Ava was specifically designed to invoke and play with this. Large parts of her body are transparent and contain visible electronics, while wherever she wears skin she looks lifelike yet impossibly perfect. Her movement is not like a stereotypical robot's with jerky movements and mechanical noises, but instead very smooth and accompanied by soft, hard-to-pinpoint sounds. Alicia Vikander, having been a ballet dancer, manages to make her graceful walk and other movements look almost human but with something inexplicably off. The whole concept of her character is to find out whether someone knowing she is a machine will be able to overcome or even skip the discomfort/revulsion caused by the uncanny valley and instead find her human and sympathetic.
  • Christiane's mask in Eyes Without a Face achieves this effect with its blank expression and perfect skin which clashes with its realistic detail. This is intentional, as even Christiane has lampshaded how creepy the mask is.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • The effects used to make Mr. Fantastic (as played by Ioan Gruffudd) stretch in both 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.
      Johnny Storm: [when Reed stretches his arm under a door] That's gross.
    • It's also hard to sometimes accept the Thing as an actual human 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.
  • The battle room drones in Flash Gordon. Tear the glasses off, and they have no eyes, just wires sticking out of empty holes!
  • 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.
  • 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 moving naturally, the effect is far more unsettling than any of the grotesque imagery the trading cards that the movie was based on could produce.
  • Tom Thumb in The Greatest Showman can come off as a little creepy with his obviously CGI legs that are used to make him look shorter and the fact that he's being dubbed over by an actor with a much deeper voice, yet the actor playing him has a baby face.
  • 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.note  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.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldermort's face in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the back of Quirrel's head looks off putting for the wrong reasons, being very rubbery and quite inaccurate to the description in the book save for the color of the eyes.
    • Cat Hermione from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, while it was a funny moment in the book, the effects work in the movie makes it extremely unsettling. The only saving grace is that it's 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."
    • Gwarp Hagrid's giant brother from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is quite literally a big part of the book and later ones, but his depiction in the film is more than a little unsettling. It's probably due to him looking much closer to a human than say the troll from the first movie, not helped by the fact he's completely silent not even grunting or roaring like in the book meaning he can easily invoke this in viewers. Word of God confirmed this is partly the reason Gwarp made no return appearance for later films as well as budget reasons.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The scene where the Horcrux is destroyed has visions of Harry and Hermione appear to Ron, both of whom appear with white, almost featureless, sort of glowing skin. Here it is deliberately invoked.
    • 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.
  • Young Hellboy from Hellboy (2004), his vacant eyes, and that overbite...
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, 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!
  • 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.
    • Smaug also falls into this somewhat. Despite being a Kaiju-sized dragon, his face and body movements are much more human-like than they should be, since he is animated in Serkis Folk fashion.
    • Dain Ironfoot, played by Billy Connolly, was completely CG'd over as a result of the makeup and helmet combo not being entirely satisfactory to Peter Jackson. The results are incredibly off-putting.
  • 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.
  • Found Footage horror film The Houses October Built has Porcelain, a woman wearing a Victorian child's dress and a mask/makeup combination that makes her look like a heavily damaged antique porcelain doll come to life (complete with strangely proportioned head, unnaturally white skin, cracks in her face and chunks of missing hair). The other primary antagonists also have disturbing masks that they never take off, but at least you can easily tell that they're masks right away. She also tends to make very unnatural, stiff head motions when she's looking around, and on top of that, even though she's presumably a haunted house actor like the rest, she's the only one who never goes out of character.
  • In the live-action film of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Whos look like normal humans but with large ears and weirdly shaped noses... and it's rather unsettling. The Grinch himself isn't all that pleasant-looking either, though in his case it was probably intentional.
  • The 2003 Hulk had special effects with a great level of detail for the title character, but 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 2008 Continuity 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 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 CG to throw off the belief.
  • The light-hearted musical film I Love Melvin, starring Debbie Reynolds (1953) has a dream sequence where Debbie is seen dancing with no fewer than six clones of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Three of them wear Astaire masks, the other three have Kelly masks. The masks seem unnaturally stiff and off-putting and comes off as extremely uncanny, considering the tone of the movie. It is actually hard to look on those faces spot on. You could actually imagine that Debbie's character would wake up screaming in the dark, facing an eerie grin from a false Fred Astaire...
  • Spike Jonze's short film I'm Here is a very sweet and heartwarming film. However, the robots look a 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 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 said to have been done to show that most people on Earth (except for a 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.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That film was about this trope.
    • In the original version, when people started to be replaced, their closest relatives started to notice something off about them. A young woman was convinced that her beloved uncle was another man since, despite looking just like him, the gleam in his eyes was gone. A boy knew his mother wasn't his mother anymore because he knew her so well that he could recognize something was just wrong about her.
    • In the remake, the effect is subtler, but goes clear and glaring in the scene where a replacement gone wrong results in a pod person with the body of a dog and the face of a man. The result is well, disgusting.
  • 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.
  • Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It (1990), with layers of clown makeup and a nigh-permanent smile played brilliantly by Tim Curry is extremely off-putting, especially when he gets sharp teeth out. There's even early designs where he's even creepier and diseased-looking but the filmmakers thought Pennywise should be able to lure children therefore he should not be automatically scary, and ironically through a certain amount of Narm Curry's Pennywise is actually quite funny.
    • However with that said Tim Curry's Pennywise still talked and moved like a normal human being.... Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in the 2017 cinematic version on the other hand has no such courtesy. Skarsgard plays Pennywise like an absolute monster: even in a normal conversation with Georgie at the start, Pennywise is literally drooling with hunger while talking to the boy like he's an animal; at one point, he just loses the thread of conversation and stares blankly at Georgie like he's not used to talking like a human. When actually moving, 2017 Pennywise is even more terrifying, contorting his body freakishly and making exaggerated movements that are disturbing. People actually thought CGI was used to make Pennywise's eyes stare in separate directions but Skarsgard actually did it himself, which impressed/scared the director.
    • It's even more scary when we learn Pennywise can accurately look/move like a human being, as at one point in the Library when Ben is staring at the book leading up to a Jump Scare. In the background you can see the Librarian stop stacking books and stares at Ben from behind with a huge scary smile on her face, getting closer while Ben looks at the book. Then after the Jump Scare, she goes completely back to normal.
  • In Jack Frost (1998) (no, not the film about the killer snowman), Michael Keaton is reincarnated as this horrifying thing. The way it looked and moved was scary to many viewers; Roger Ebert called it "the most repulsive single creature in the history of special effects."
  • Jacob's Ladder: Director Adrian Lyne uses a Body Horror technique in which an actor is recorded waving his head around at a low frame rate, resulting in horrific fast motion when played back.
  • Oh geez, that hideous baby with Arnold Schwarzenegger's face in Junior.
  • Justice League (2017):
    • Infamous example is Superman's weird ass lips, poor Henry Cavil was contractually obligated to keep his mustache for Mission: Impossible – Fallout to the woe of Warner Bros. who wanted a clean shaven Superman. So instead of just keeping the facial hair (like most superheroes nowadays) they just used CG to take away the stache, the result is very upsetting to the eyes.
    • Steppenwolf is a pretty bad case of this too thanks to Adaptational Ugliness making him look like a bad CG combination of man, goat, and tinfoil.
    • Due to the extensive reshoots, a lot of the visuals in the movie are jarring and of lesser quality which invokes this reaction.
  • The costume designers of Killers from Space were probably aware of the Valley when designing the titular villains, but that film's instance of this trope has aliens looking stupid and hilarious rather than creepy. As Mike Nelson of The Film Crew commented, "He looks a little like Buzz Lightyear!"
  • Lady and the Tramp: The CG on the animal characters has had this feel to some viewers. In particular, the Tramp's appearance in the first trailer (in a shot reminiscent of The Shining, no less) really left an impression.
  • 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.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The scene on the Extended Edition of The Return of the King with the Mouth of Sauron: that unnaturally large mouth and grin.... It came about because Peter Jackson walked in on the editing, decided he wasn't scary enough and had them ''double the dimensions of the mouth in both directions''. It succeeded admirably.
      • 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. (It would have also been upsetting for other reasons.)
    • 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 in 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.
    • An example from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Thranduil the Elvenking. He may be radiantly beautiful, but the stilted way he moves and speaks (especially pronounced during his first conversation with Thorin) makes him seem like he's never had a conversation with another person before. And that's without mentioning the way half of his face melts away when telling Thorin that's he has "felt the Dragon's fire" suggesting his face is burned all the time and he's using magic to cover it up.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Hulk:
      • The aforementioned design was enhanced 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.
      • Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok is much better but also just as strange since Hulk talks and acts like a normal person... relatively. Hulk's face resembles Mark Ruffalo even more and it's very odd (but funny) seeing Hulk sit down next to Thor and just talk instead of Unstoppable Rage. Hulk is even naked at one point, and director Taika Waititi joked about the prospect of CGI-ing Hulk's penis.
      • The Hulk seen in Avengers: Endgame takes this to the logical extreme as being the perfect hybrid of both Bruce Banner and Hulk (aka Professor Hulk), it’s like there’s a big green Mark Ruffalo walking around being careful and scientific instead child-like rage outs the result is strange to say the least. It's also probably thanks the preceding 10 years where you as an audience have gotten used to the savage Manchild Hulk, that the sight of a near-human intelligent Hulk talking with no Hulk Speak is freaky.
    • In Captain America: The First Avenger, the pre-serumed Steve Rogers is distinctly... off. Given that the CGI's done by the same people that did The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it's not much of a surprise. This becomes more visible watching on a home TV screen/laptop, as Chris Evans' face is naturally too big for the stand-in's head.
      • Averted, though, in the actual film, where the CGI effects used to shrink Chris Evans for all scenes that take place prior to Rogers getting the serum are so convincing that some critics, like Roger Ebert, couldn't tell whether pre-serum or post-serum Rogers was CGI.
      • Captain America: The First Avenger also invokes this trope in Johann Schmidt/Red Skull. Red Skull's mutated face is pretty terrifying-looking by itself. But for the first hour, we see Schmidt hides his mutations under a very obvious rubber Hugo Weaving skin mask. At points, Schmidt actually looks creepier with his skin mask than when he is seen without it.
    • Bucky has this effect in when he's under HYDRA influence in Captain America: The Winter Soldier; his face becomes blank and shows little to no expression while doing acts of extreme brutality, e.g. choking Maria Stark in Civil War, and even when he's not Brainwashed and Crazy, Bucky has little expression.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: As the film progresses, Ultron's forms become increasingly humanlike and emotive, giving off an eerie vibe. The final glimpse in the trailer of Ultron's face, which is all metallic only with red eyes with pupils and emotion, and a movable mouth and a face capable of expression, is simply unnerving. However, Ultron isn't as disturbing as he is in the comics since Ultron is basing his personality off Tony Stark and so feels he needs to be witty to match his creator but becomes angry when it's pointed out he's copying Tony and therefore is less disturbing and more pathetic.
      • Vision too, as the combination of his shiny red translucent makeup and cosutume and his weird eyes irises can cause this reaction. Ironically Vision is actually more uncanny in normal clothing.
    • The smoothing effect used to make older actors look younger has this effect to some people, but not because it's bad. In reality, it's too good: it's almost like time-traveling. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym in Ant-Man is especially good, as is Kurt Russell as Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is also used to creepy effect later on with his flesh regrowing. Robert Downey Jr. also gets a CGI younger makeover in Captain America: Civil War; it actually took some people a few seconds to realize who it was.
    • In-Universe Spider-Man once again invokes this, as in Civil War even the normally stoic Bucky Barnes is sufficiently weirded out by Spidey, questioning what the hell he is when upon seeing Peter Wall Crawl. Falcon too asks if the webs are actually coming out Spidey’s body, clearly unnerved. Even when he’s just being normal, Peter’s body is just unnatural e.g when the Spider Sense kicks in and his forearm hairs stand on end.
    • In Doctor Strange (2016) one of the crazier dimensions has a bad case of Body Horror. The Ancient One also has shades of Uncanny Valley: being played by a bald Tilda Swinton helps as well but since she draws power from the Dark Dimension, this might be intentional.
    • The CGI Rhinos from Black Panther (2018) have caused this reaction, especially the bit where one Rhino licks Okoye’s face. T’challa and Killmonger’s suit-clad CGI bodies look particularly weird during the Final Battle as well especially when unmasked too.
    • Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame has this as well. Much like the Hulk example above, there's a level of translucency to his skin and his enormous presence contrasting with Josh Brolin's calm stoicism can be extremely uncanny to witness in a regular non-action scene. Unlike Ultron who suffered from some bad Nightmare Retardant, Thanos's recognizable humanity in an alien face is both extremely unsettling and effective.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mummy Returns is a Trope Codifier for the Uncanny Valley with Dwayne Johnson's infamous Scorpion King, somehow his actual scorpion lower body is less scary than his dead-eyed, plastic skinned torso and head. The context also makes it worse as the The Hero Rick and Big Bad Imhotep (played by real actors) are having a Duel to the Death then this abomination comes in and poorly jibes with the actual actors, especially when the previous movie pulled off the effects' work well enough.
  • 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.
  • Paddington looks way too much like a real bear. Yet, some fans have been pleased to note that the facial expressions seen in the trailer look like they've been lifted directly from Peggy Fortnum's illustrations in the first book.
  • Prometheus:
    • Michael Fassbender's cheerful monotone, neutral expression, and the fact that he can apparently cry on demand help to pull this off. Through the movie, small whirrs 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 dyeing his hair.
    • Guy Pearce'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. The poster itself presents what looks like a horrifying Slasher Smile.
  • At the climactic scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark before the three main bad guys are destroyed by the Ark, their screaming faces are contorted and exaggerated in horrific ways before either melting away, vacuumed from within or exploding.
  • 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 (1959) (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!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) is infamous for its ghastly initial rendition of the title character. Many other live action adaptations of cartoon characters keep them looking cartoonish for fear of dipping into the Valley. The original design didn't. It was a CG version of the Blue Blur with a realistically proportioned head, two small individual eyes as opposed to his normal Conjoined Eyes, elongated limbs as opposed to the short rubber hoses seen in the video games, teeny-tiny hands and feet, and (worst of all) a realistic mouth full of individual human teeth, which among everything else, bears an almost perfect resemblance to that of a Promachoteuthis sulcus. No wonder Tom freaks out when he first meets him in the original trailer. It's a wonder anyone in the movie could look at that Sonic for more than five seconds without getting the uncontrollable urge to burn him.
  • 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.
    • An early scene had the soon-to-be-father main character suffering a nightmare involving his wife giving birth to dozens of babies. They've all got long, thin vampire fangs that make them look absolutely terrifying. In this case, of course, it was deliberate.
    • The main character when wearing the mask. The face is mostly just really green, but the absolute creepiness from it likely comes from the exaggerated, emphasized chin, the strangely lipsticked mouth, or the obvious plastic-hair.
  • The big-eyed doctor in Star Trek (2009) can be quite unsettling.
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Maul is pretty freaky looking and set a standard for the Sith all looking like cenobites, but Maul is actually less scary than his original design. Lucas for once made a wise decision saying it was too terrifying.
    • You know the clone pilots in the prequels? Take a closer look at their faces. Yep, George Lucas just can't get enough CGI.
    • Rogue One has the CGI performance of the late Peter Cushing "reprising" his role from 1977 despite having died in 1994. Done by putting a CGI render of his face over a live actor's body, for some viewers the combination of natural body movements and not-quite-right facial movements are deep in Uncanny Valley... But considering the character is Wilhuff Tarkin, who can commit genocide with the most polite tone of voice, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, the last-scene cameo of de-aged Carrie Fisher as princess Leia is done the same way, and she isn't anywhere near as evil.
    • The Force Awakens gives us Supreme Leader Snoke, the major authority in charge of the First Order. Facial Horror aside, Snoke's face looks plain wrong, as well as his overall body proportions, which make him look too-human like to comfort. Supplementary materials confirm he used to be a handsome-looking fellow who became the withered, ghoulish husk he is because of extensive use of the Dark Side of the Force.
    • Kylo Ren himself has a strange face under his mask, he's not hideous like most of the Dark Side force users but Adam Driver‘s "innocent" looking face is stilted and expresses weirdly. It becomes even more uncanny when dueling Rey and he barely reacts to a lightsaber slashing his cheek.
  • The Bruce Willis movie Surrogates does this intentionally, as almost every surrogate is "too perfect." They have a shiny, overly made-up look and clearly aren't quite people. A number of the actors portraying surrogates appeared to take special care moving just a hair more stiffly, and to not look like they were breathing. And while certain surrogates are indistinguishable from real people, like the Prophet, the "life-like" appearance varied according to the quality and model of the surrogate. Cam's landlord, for instance, is using a cheap, temporary model. 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 dark. Given that the moral is that the surrogates' artificiality is destorying real human interaction, this was very much intentional to emphasize the message.
  • 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.
  • Used deliberately with the infected dog from The Thing (1982). When it's introduced to the pen with the other dogs, it lies down and just stares straight ahead without moving an inch. Normal dogs don't do that. Even before that, it was often seen just staring at people for little reason, wandering around the compound seemingly aimlessly and never making a sound.
  • 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!"
  • There's also the 2010 movie The Town. During the armored car robbery, Doug and his gang are wearing nun outfits complete with leathery masks of old, wrinkled faces. The look on that boy as he sees Doug wearing the mask right before the robbery unfolds says it all.
  • The baby on the ceiling in Trainspotting during Ewan McGregor's withdrawal scene.
  • 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' eyes 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.
  • 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.
  • Shawn and Marlon's "disguises" in White Chicks. Holy jumping shitballs, you gotta wonder how anybody would fall for them...
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Uncanny Valley is invoked in Judge Doom as foreshadowing, considering that he's actually an Ax-Crazy toon disguised as a human.
    1. He is at least half a head taller than any other character.
    2. His eyes are often hollow and he never blinks. Christopher Lloyd only blinked between takes or when his face was out of frame.
    3. Every smile is a Slasher Smile.
    4. He has a lot more strength than an average man. He is shown ripping the industrial dip barrel open with one hand.
    5. His skin is pale and lifeless.
    6. His vocal cadence is either too clipped or too drawn out to be normal. He talks, just, Like, THIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSS!
  • Martin Freeman's character in ''Wild Target' has an Uncanny Valley look about him thanks to his capped teeth and creepy smile.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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