Ari Aster changed the horror genre with his previous films Hereditary and Midsommar. Now, with Beau Is Afraid, he’s set to do it once again.
Ari Aster shook up the horror genre with two flicks that brilliantly mixed drama with supernatural elements. Now, with Beau Is Afraid, the director not only picks on one of his previous short films and adapts it to a long-form format but also brings another layer to the genre using comedy and adventure. And with a strange-looking Joaquin Phoenix, the movie promises to bring horror into more unexplored territory.
Fans who’ve watched Aster’s previous films, Hereditary and Midsommar, already know they can count on scenes of cinematic stress blended with great family drama. Some may consider it a disservice to horror, but both Hereditary and Midsommar were praised for how they approached trauma, leading to moments of tension that left a mark. Those films were very particular in their approaches — the director used sprinklings of comedy, making the projects even more unique. But Beau Is Afraid promises to go even deeper.
What Is Beau Is Afraid About?
In 2011, Ari Aster released Beau, a six-minute short film starring the late actor Billy Mayo, which tells the story of a paranoid and anxious man journeying to visit his mother but encountering a series of strange situations. Beau Is Afraid follows the same basic plot as the short. The film stars Phoenix, an actor best known for moody performances like Joker, as a man setting out to visit his overbearing mother who gets delayed by a series of surreal obstacles. Once again, Aster approaches the subject of family trauma, with Phoenix’s character coping with his childhood memories by facing nightmarish dreamscape situations.
The preview depicts many surreal horror shots that will surely build on the director’s style. With Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” playing, the trailer also takes viewers into other nightmarish, live-action and animated shots while cautioning that “from his darkest fears, comes the greatest adventure.” It may feel bizarre but also quite surprising that Aster might be venturing toward a different approach, albeit one that keeps with the core of his already familiar subjects. The director joins other names like Alex Garland in bringing surrealism to horror from a different perspective. But Aster is set to mix genres once again by blending comedy, adventure and horror.
How Beau Is Afraid Differs From Other Horror Movies
The trailer for Beau Is Afraid shows an appreciation for the new ground by teasing audiences with scary moments that blend with other elements. Aster has even described Beau Is Afraid as a “nightmare comedy,” aiming to distinguish it from standard horror using subversion. Of course, Beau Is Afraid will be compared to Aster’s two hits, but it already stands out by showcasing his wildest imagery yet.
While watching the preview, part of its imagery resembles at least two Michel Gondry independent films, The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Of course, comparing them with Beau Is Afraid would be quite a stretch, as the surrealistic elements of those films were never meant to incite horror. But their comedy and adventure sides seem close to what Aster is trying to achieve. In any case, cerebral horror blended with those elements will likely make for another great entry in the director’s portfolio.