In Beau Is Afraid, the latest film from Midsommar and Hereditary director Ari Aster, Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who must endure a strange and terrifying series of events on his way to visit his mother. The freshly released trailer for the film shows Phoenix’s character facing what seem to be his deepest fears — manifested in classic, mind-melding Aster style.
Originally titled Disappointment Blvd, the long-awaited film stars Joaquin Phoenix and is slated for a 2023 release date in theaters. The first poster for the film features what seems to be a CGI version of a young Joaquin in silk pajamas — and like many of Aster’s works, it hints at something a bit unsettling.
Aster has previously said that his next film would be a four-hour-long “nightmare comedy,” back when Disappointment was first announced in February 2021. Aster got his start making incredibly subversive short films like Munchausen and The Strange Thing About the Johnsons, and this feature is based on his 2011 surrealist short Beau. That six-minute film starred the late Billy Mayo in the title role as a neurotic middle-aged man who learns of his mother’s death under odd circumstances. As he travels home after learning the news, he faces several stressful supernatural threats in addition to uncovering a secret about his past, which may be tied to the father he never knew.
Aster is reportedly writing, producing and directing Beau Is Afraid, which is currently in production. The director has been pegged as one of the most exciting auteurs in film today after the success of Hereditary and Midsommar. Like Beau, Hereditary was also a family drama that included supernatural elements, with several sinister twists, to say the least. Midsommar famously starred Pugh and Jack Reynor as a couple traveling to visit their friend’s rural hometown in Sweden for its midsummer festival, before coming to the horrifying realization that the festival is run by a pagan cult prone to human sacrifice.
In 2019, Aster shared his thoughts on the horror genre and his unique take on it with those two films, saying, “I’m not somebody who’s into jump scares. I feel like everything we see day to day is infused with dread. I enjoy building suspense and also creating a mood. I’m somebody who is more affected by images and ideas than I am by jolts.”
He also added that he’s drawn to all kinds of genres, saying, “I’d love to play in every genre. I love romantic comedies. I love Westerns. I love musicals. I love sci-fi. I try to come to everything from a place of character. That’s my way in. Genre filmmaking offers you a structure and a framework. From there, you can play around and find a way to add your signature.”
Watch the first trailer for Beau Is Afraid, below:
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