Lukewarm horror franchise The Conjuring is back at it again, but this time with a new spin-off in the form of The Nun. Directed by Corin Hardy, it’s the fifth entry in the series, which follows a Catholic priest and a young nun-in-training as they head to the Vatican to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding a nun’s death.
Its ads have also been scaring the pants off of people thanks to its usage of the “jump scare” technique. If you’re a horror buff, you know all about them, but for everyone else: It’s essentially a cheap tactic to get audiences to jump out of their seats by juxtaposing a seemingly quiet, benign scene with a loud sound, disturbing visual, or something that pops up out of nowhere. It’s what the popular gaming franchise Five Nights at Freddy’s was built on, and it’s a tactic many filmmakers use.
First, the ad shows a volume button being turned down, as a warning for what’s about to come. It’s not the greatest concept, because it’s basically advertising the next screen: the titular nun leaping out at you and screaming.
The six-second ad has been terrifying folks who just want to watch their YouTube videos without being harangued by a demonic nun who clearly just needs attention. The ad has seen several complaints, including one that YouTube responded directly to:
As a result, the commercial has now been banned from YouTube, following the platform’s declaration that it violates the site’s “shocking content policy” via Twitter.
Appreciate you bringing this to our attention! This ad violates our shocking content policy and it's no longer running as an ad. More info here: https://t.co/dOUocjUevh— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) August 14, 2018
Others were still shook, understandably so.
HAHA FUCK YOUTUBE they have an ad you can’t skip promoting the horror movie The Nun and it’s a jumpscare good times it starts off with like an empty church setting and a loading icon pops up before the jumpscare just an fyi if you can’t handle that sort of thing— chienne (@n8sie) August 11, 2018
IM LITERALLY SHAKING AND TEARING UP RIGHT NOW I JUST WANTED TO PLAY EPIPHANY BUT WHY DID YOUTUBE GAVE ME A FUCKING THE NUN JUSMPSCARE AS AN AD AT 5 FUCKING AM— 🧡 (@peachsandcream_) August 11, 2018
GUYS!!! there’s an ad on youtube (for the new horror movie, the nun) which is just a black screen with a volume button going down IT’S A JUMPSCARE if things like that trigger you TURN IT DOWN STRAIGHT AWAY!!!!— el! (@hugallurfriendz) August 14, 2018
It isn’t just lazy marketing, it’s also not the best way to show off your product to folks innocently browsing YouTube for content that’s totally unrelated to horror movies. It’s fun to have a laugh when it comes to scaring unwitting people who have consented to taking part in the experience, but given health conditions and those with other problems where it might not be so funny to them, forcing random people to sit through a jump scare ad without their knowledge probably isn’t the best avenue to promote your film. And ad-viewing isn’t something people who don’t pay for YouTube Premium can just opt out of, unfortunately.
If you want to see the offending content that’s been freaking people out, you can watch it below, though be forewarned – it may be a little unsettling, though extremely lame overall.
Of course, with all this controversy, The Nun has now successfully drummed up enough interest to totally not be concerned with whether the ad is being shown on YouTube, which is probably what the marketing team was looking for in the first place.
Either way, hopefully, the movie is better than this ad. It’s hitting theaters on Sept. 7.