YouTube just gave The Nun the best viral marketing, YouTube has removed an ad for The Nun, an upcoming horror film, for violating its “violent and shocking content” policy. As reported by Polygon, the unskippable ad was so upsetting that a tweet warning users against it went viral, racking up more than 135,000 retweets.
YouTube doesn’t allow “promotions that are likely to shock or scare” on its service, and the ad is unquestionably a cheap, yet effective jump scare. Its angle is clever, playing on how we consume trailers today: on our computers, phones, and tablets. A volume icon appears on-screen, ticking down and up before a shrieking nun appears suddenly.
The internet, YouTube in particular, have long acted as a place for trolls and pranksters to spring jump scares on unsuspecting users. According to Know Your Meme, videos like this have been circulating since at least 2003, when one user released a cutesy cartoon that ends with a flashing face and a high-pitched scream. A particularly infamous jump scareinvolves a car making its way through a peaceful, green scene before a screamer lurches into the frame.
The Nun is a film that looks… fine. Set to release next month, it’s the fifth installment of The Conjuring franchise that’s centered around a Vatican investigation of the suicide of a nun. But as a potential marketing stunt, intentional or not, the ad debacle has become a brilliant bit of promotion. On today’s internet, where jump scares are ancient news, The Nun’s ad accidentally revived the form by forcing people to watch it (the way, say, one might have tricked a younger sibling into watching that ghost car clip in 2004) as a pre-roll clip. Not only has the ad now received the kind of organic, viral notoriety campaigns used to aim for — think Blair Witch Project — but YouTube’s removal makes it infinitely more interesting. The teaser still exists on YouTube as a standalone video, if you want to view it for yourself.