Jane Schoenbrun’s trans horror film, I Saw The TV Glow, gets first trailer: ‘Best movie of the year’

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in I Saw The TV Glow

The first trailer for Jane Schoenbrun’s new horror-thriller – possibly set to be one of the most-talked-about films of the year – has dropped.

I Saw The TV Glow stars queer Detective Pikachu actor Justice Smith as Owen, who is introduced to creepy late-night TV programme The Pink Opaque by school pal Maddy (non-binary Atypical star Brigette Lundy-Paine).

In each episode of the TV show, the stars have to “harvest the full potential of their shared powers” to defeat monsters, a bit like in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But sometimes, as we hear in the trailer, the show “feels more real than real life”.

The pair’s friendship hinges on their shared obsession with the supernatural series, and when it’s cancelled – and Maddy mysteriously goes missing – Owen’s “view of reality begins to crack”.

I Saw The TV Glow previewed at the Sundance Film Festival last month to largely rave reviews, with one site praising it as a “one-of-a-kind masterpiece”.

It’s the second feature-length film from trans director Schoenbrun, following 2021’s critically acclaimed cult horror, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.

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In an interview with IndieWire in 2022, Schoenbrun talked about how making films helped them through their own gender-identity journey.

“I kept finding that every screenplay I wrote was about trans s**t. This was before I knew I was trans, which is ridiculous. The warning signs that the universe sends you are so loud, or that your subconscious sends you,” they said.

In the new trailer, we see Maddy and Owen’s fascination with the TV series take a sinister turn after Maddy vanishes, and the only clue is her TV set burning in her back garden.

“What if I really was someone else, very far away on the other side of a television screen?” Owen asks as it becomes clear that he is losing his grip on reality.

I Saw The TV Glow also touches on topics such as family relationships – Maddy’s household is abusive, Owen’s mother babies him and his father is a control freak – and queer identity. 

Early on in the trailer, Maddy clarifies that she “likes girls”, while her best friend simply “likes TV shows” – although one scene in the trailer hints that Owen’s relationship with his body might not be so clear cut. 

The film also features boygenius’ Phoebe Bridgers, The Wilds star Helena Howard, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, Amber Benson, who played Willow’s ill-fated girlfriend Tara in Buffy, and Til‘s BAFTA-nominated Danielle Deadwyler.

Bridgers also provided a song for the soundtrack.

I Saw The TV Glow is set to open in the US on 3 May but is yet to receive a UK release date.

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