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Wendell & Wild’s first trailer leans hard into its Coraline-style creepy side

A new stop-motion film from The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick goes full spook-show

Tasha Robinson leads Polygon’s movie coverage. She’s covered film, TV, books, and more for 20 years, including at The A.V. Club, The Dissolve, and The Verge.

The first trailer for Wendell & Wild, the latest stop-motion animated adventure from Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick, focuses on the movie’s eerie horror aspects above everything else. The movie, which lands on Netflix on Oct. 28, stars longtime comedy partners Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the title characters, with Peele as a co-producer on the film. (As Polygon learned during a set visit earlier this year, producing the movie brought Peele some anxiety, since he and Selick were pitching it to studios around the time Peele’s directorial debut Get Out was releasing — and Peele thought Get Out might flop and torpedo Wendell & Wild entirely.)

Polygon had a chance to preview the first 30 minutes of the movie earlier this year, and it certainly doesn’t start off like a horror movie. The focus is on 13-year-old Kat (Lyric Ross), an angry orphan who’s being released from the juvenile justice system into a Catholic school in her old hometown. Two demon brothers, Wendell (Key) and Wild (Peele), discover she’s a “Hell Maiden” who can summon demons to the mortal realm, and they hatch a scheme to get her to help them escape from the tiny hell prison they live in, built atop the giant rotund stomach of a 300-foot-tall demon named Buffalo Belzer (Ving Rhames). Angela Bassett, James Hong, and Natalie Martinez co-star.

Like Selick’s other projects, including the live-action/stop-motion hybrids James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone, Wendell & Wild also has its comic side, but it’s a macabre, eerie kind of comedy. In a recent interview about the upcoming film, Selick told Polygon that while the film has horror elements, he doesn’t consider it primarily a horror movie. “A few of the things I don’t want to do: I don’t want to do strong horror,” he says. “I hate slasher films. I hate realistic horror. But I do like scary stuff. And [this movie] can be pretty damn scary.”

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