Pyper Braun in 'Imaginary,' a new horror movie from Blumhouse: a girl looks disconcertingly at a teddy bear while a dark figure lurks in the background

Blumhouse’s Creepy ‘Imaginary’ Trailer Has Me Rethinking My Entire Childhood

Lots of kids have imaginary friends, but what if those invisible playmates aren’t imaginary at all? That’s the premise behind Imaginary, the latest horror movie from Blumhouse, and the incredibly creepy trailer is finally available for our viewing pleasure.

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Lionsgate announced that the film will be released on March 8, 2024. The distributors have been cagey about releasing footage or information about Imaginary, adding to the anticipation and making us crave more details! Here’s everything we know about Imaginary so far.

Who’s who in the cast and crew

Jason Blum, the award-winning producing force behind hit horror franchises like Insidious and Paranormal Activity, will produce Imaginary. Jeff Wadlow, who wrote and directed Kick-Ass 2 and directed Blumhouse productions Truth or Dare and Fantasy Island, will direct.

The movie stars DeWanda Wise as Jessica, and her stepdaughter Alice is portrayed by Pyper Braun. Tom Payne of The Walking Dead fame and Broadway actress Betty Buckley have supporting roles.

What’s Imaginary about?

sad teddy bear sitting on a checkerboard floor with blue sky above him

When Jessica (Wise) moves back into her childhood home with a family of her own, her stepdaughter Alice (Braun) finds an old teddy bear called Chauncey in the basement. Alice and Chauncey are soon inseparable … and that’s when things get weird. Alice starts exhibiting strange behavior, and Jessica realizes she too has a history with the eerie toy.

When Jessica was growing up in the home, she had an imaginary friend as well. Her invisible bestie was left behind when she grew up and moved away, and he is not happy.

Speaking to Variety, Lionsgate’s co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing Keri Moore said, “Something you see across cultures is that children have a unique access to the spirit world. What if their imaginary friends are something from the spirit world? What if these imaginary friends were real, and what if when you left one of them, that made them upset?”

Is there a trailer?

Several, actually! The production company first released a teaser that aired exclusively in theaters ahead of Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy’s movie, which hit theaters on October 27, 2023. Producers asked their crew to throw together a quick and dirty trailer to take advantage of a similar audience demographic, and the result is a 15-second teaser that relies heavily on audio effects to send chills down the spines of the Five Nights at Freddy’s crowd.

This theaters-only teaser begins with a child’s voice (always creepy), urging the audience to, “Close your eyes and use your imagination.”

In the dark, the sound of creaking doors, kids’ toys moving on their own accord, and ominous footsteps filled the theater. When told to open their eyes, flashes of terrifying demons and a missing child poster hit viewers right in the subconscious.

The first teaser was an obvious marketing ploy, and it did the trick! Word-of-mouth spread, and online searches for “Imaginary movie” ticked upwards. It seems the teaser’s ambiguity was intriguing to the FNaF crowd, which makes sense since the scariest moments in film are usually the things we can’t see.

“Fans are truly enjoying everything about the Imaginary trailer and that’s what’s most important to Blumhouse, capturing the imagination of our audience,” Blum told Variety.

Blumhouse shared another short teaser on X on November 15. “Maybe we shouldn’t play together anymore, Chauncey. Maybe we shouldn’t be friends!” a child’s voice shrieks in the second teaser video. The post introduces audiences to the stuffed bear, warning, “He’s not imaginary … and he’s not your friend.”

The slowed-down version of “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” originally recorded by the Temptations, adds an especially sinister note.

Last but certainly not least, the full trailer has arrived

“I had such good memories here,” Jessica says as movers carry their belongings into her childhood home. “Maybe my happy place can be our happy place.”

Such optimism! Seconds later, Alice meets Chauncey in the basement, and it’s off to the races.

Not the nail! Anything but the nail!

The trailer is only two minutes and 30 seconds long, but it packs a lot of information into that short span of time. Chauncey can move on his own, for starters, which gives me total Chucky and Annabelle flashbacks. Then there’s that weird glowing Coraline doorway, followed by Buckley dropping knowledge about the cultural history of “imaginary friends,” otherwise known as “entities that tether to the young.”

Eek! Also, maybe don’t watch the last 10 seconds of the trailer if you want to sleep tonight.

I’m excited to see Imaginary when it hits theaters on March 8, 2024, even if it will likely stir up memories of all those long play sessions with my own “imaginary friend” when I was a kid. This movie promises to shake up many a childhood and rattle many a mental cage … and I can’t wait!

(featured image: Lionsgate)

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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.