Hereditary is many things. It’s a motion picture, one of the horror variety, that opens on June 8. It’s one of the most anticipated and acclaimed movies of the year, with a perfect 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s “a new generation’s The Exorcist,” according to one critic, and “the most exciting movie” at Sundance 2018, according to another.
There’s one thing that Hereditary decidedly isn’t, though: a kids movie. So you can imagine the bedlam that ensued when Event Cinemas, a movie theater in Perth, Australia suburb Innaloo, accidentally showed the Hereditary trailer to a theater full of parents and “at least 40 children” who had come to see Peter Rabbit.
“It was dreadful. Very quickly you could tell this was not a kid’s film,” a Perth woman named Jane told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Parents were yelling at the projectionist to stop, covering their kids’ eyes and ears. A few went out to get a staff member but she was overwhelmed and didn’t really know what to do. Some parents fled the cinema with their kids in tow.” Yes, in case you’d doubted Hereditary’s fright factor, the mere trailer for it sent innocent filmgoers quite literally fleeing the premises in terror.
“Eventually a senior staff member came in with a walkie talkie and he shut the screen off,” said Jane. “To his credit he apologized and offered us complimentary movie passes to make up for it.” The Peter Rabbit screening proceeded without further incident, aside from, you know, Peter Rabbit itself. A spokesman for the theater’s parent company said they were aware of the incident, and that it would be “investigated internally to ensure situations like this do not occur again.”
Hereditary has already enjoyed a wealth of free publicity, from Sundance attendees raving about its plentiful horrors on social media to some particularly hyperbolic (or are they?) critics crowning it the scariest film ever made. And that’s in addition to distributor A24’s own efforts, which have been just as effective: Following a special midnight screening of the film at SXSW, attendees received extremely creepy dolls in the mail, a guerilla marketing tactic that rattled everyone from director Barry Jenkins to entertainment writer Eric Vespe. Needless to say, the monsters at A24 appreciated this latest addition to Hereditary’s reputation as an absolute nightmare of a horror movie, tweeting, “We will consider subsidizing their child therapy.”
Watch the Hereditary trailer for yourself below, if you dare, and follow it up with the Peter Rabbit trailer so you can experience some semblance of the utter rollercoaster ride those poor Australian families didn’t realize they were on until it was too late.