Hunter Schafer’s first horror movie is shaping up to be chillingly weird. After almost no news since the casting announcement in 2021, Cuckoo is back with a cryptic teaser and an imminent release date.
The 34-second trailer gives us very little to go by—in the best way possible. It’s already clear this movie is going for mystery and mounting dread over cheap jump scares. In an extended shot, we watch Hunter Schafer stepping out onto an outside porch, presumably to investigate a noise.
Families wound, but those wounds can, if not heal, at least begin to close.
A loudspeaker voiceover, meanwhile, delivers a garbled message, barely discernible over the ominous, droning sound design. “… Giving you the chance to be of great use in our quest for preservation … the adolescent needs to be trained,” the mysterious voice says.
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As the tension builds, Schafer’s character pulls a butterfly knife from her pocket. And then comes a frantic scream as the blood-red title card displays Schafer’s name. The next image we see is a figure holding out their hand while making an inhuman noise.
The official synopsis doesn’t reveal much more, aside from an introductory premise. “Reluctantly, 17-year-old Gretchen leaves her American home to live with her father, who has just moved into a resort in the German Alps with his new family,” the synopsis reads. “Arriving at their future residence, they are greeted by Mr. König, her father’s boss, who takes an inexplicable interest in Gretchen’s nonverbal half-sister Alma.
“Something doesn’t seem right in this tranquil vacation paradise. Gretchen is plagued by strange noises and bloody visions until she discovers a shocking secret that also concerns her own family.”
Cuckoo comes from director Tilman Singer (Luz) and also stars Dan Stevens, Jessica Henwick, Marton Csókás, Greta Fernández and Jan Bluthardt.
This won’t be Schafer’s only foray into the weird horror genre. At the 2023 Game Awards, Schafer showed off her scream queen skills in the trailer for OD, an upcoming horror game by dream-team collaborators Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid, Death Stranding) and Jordan Peele.
Cuckoo will have its initial screening at SXSW in March before its theatrical release on May 3.
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