2 user 4 critic

Primal Screen 

Primal Screen is a documentary about a person's childhood fear of ventriloquist dummies and dolls due to the uncanny valley.






Learn more

More Like This 

The Nightmare II (2015)
Documentary | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A look at a frightening condition that plagues thousands; sleep paralysis.

Director: Rodney Ascher
Stars: Siegfried Peters, Estrella Cristina, Stephen Joseph
Documentary | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An in-depth look at the history and pop cultural significance of horror films.

Stars: Eli Roth, Greg Nicotero, Rob Zombie
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning.

Director: Xavier Burgin
Stars: Meosha Bean, Ashlee Blackwell, Robin R. Means Coleman
Short | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Somewhere in the 1970s Martin Stockdotter is an experimental musician tasked with making a Halloween sound effect album. His ambition was to make it the scariest one ever recorded and he would succeed all too well.

Director: Rodney Ascher
Stars: Briar Kirk, Noah Segan, Buffy Visick
Room 237 I (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).

Director: Rodney Ascher
Stars: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A feature length documentary on the acclaimed work and eclectic career of maverick filmmaker Larry Cohen (BLACK CAESAR, GOD TOLD ME TO, Q THE WINGED SERPENT, THE STUFF, PHONE BOOTH)

Director: Steve Mitchell
Stars: J.J. Abrams, Rick Baker, Eric Bogosian
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Between appearing in supporting roles in General Hospital and local TV commercials, Ryan Sexton spent the early 90s documenting the life and art of El Duce, lead singer of the notorious ... See full summary »

Directors: Rodney Ascher, David Lawrence, and 1 more credit »
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A documentary uncovering the history and the making of Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) films.

Director: Kevin McDonagh
Stars: Peter Atkins, Simon Bamford, Imogen Boorman
Joe Bob's Last Drive-In (TV Movie 2018)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.7/10 X  

Joe Bob is back! Watching B-Movies and giving background and behind the scenes information. He watches Tourist Trap, Re-Animator and much much more.

Director: Austin Jennings
Stars: Lyle Blackburn, John Bloom, Diana Prince
Tourist Trap (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A group of young friends stranded at a secluded roadside museum are stalked by a masked assailant who uses his telekenetic powers to control the attraction's mannequins.

Director: David Schmoeller
Stars: Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness
Crime | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A funeral director tells four strange tales of horror with an African American focus to three drug dealers he traps in his place of business.

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Clarence Williams III, Corbin Bernsen, Joe Torry
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The history of the independent film company, The Cannon Film Group, Inc..

Director: Mark Hartley
Stars: Sam Firstenberg, David Paulsen, Luigi Cozzi


Series cast summary:
Patrick Albanesius Patrick Albanesius ...  Gary Grownup 1 episode, 2017
Ryan Alessi ...  Daniel at 12 1 episode, 2017
Jon Alexi Jon Alexi ...  Teenage Greg 1 episode, 2017
Natisha Anderson ...  Greg's Mom 1 episode, 2017
Anton Van Leer Ascher Anton Van Leer Ascher ...  The Boy in the Television 1 episode, 2017
Isabella Bazler ...  Ryan's Friend 1 episode, 2017
Julian Brandon Bereny ...  Greg at 6 1 episode, 2017
Gregory S. Burkart Gregory S. Burkart ...  Himself 1 episode, 2017
Kira Cahill ...  Mourning Widow 1 episode, 2017
Nikki D'Amico ...  Liza Minnelli 1 episode, 2017
Dax Gregory Harasymowycz Dax Gregory Harasymowycz ...  Gary at 6 1 episode, 2017
Andy Kenareki ...  Shadowy Puppeteer 1 episode, 2017
Briar Kirk Briar Kirk ...  Gary's Schoolmate 1 episode, 2017
Michelle Molbegott ...  Liza Minnelli's Assistant 1 episode, 2017
Luca Nicora ...  King 1 episode, 2017
Bodie Ohrmund ...  Gary at 12 1 episode, 2017
Matthew Payne Matthew Payne ...  Dead Man 1 episode, 2017
Charlotte Pernicone ...  Lucy 1 episode, 2017
J.B. Waterman J.B. Waterman ...  Gary's Dad 1 episode, 2017
Peter Xifo ...  Necromancer 1 episode, 2017


Primal Screen is a documentary about a person's childhood fear of ventriloquist dummies and dolls due to the uncanny valley.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Official Sites:

Distributor's Website





Release Date:

8 June 2017 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


See full technical specs »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Takes Us Right Into The Uncanny Valley
17 January 2019 | by holisticfoxSee all my reviews

Primal Screen, (Episode 1, entitled The Wooden Boy) attempts to explore some of the more haunting imagery of pop culture influences that children have been exposed to and examines how it affected their growing minds. By focusing on a couple of very specific pop culture references experienced by three individuals growing up in the 70's, the documentary persuades the viewer to look back into their own pasts and examine the pop culture artifacts that may have left some dark impressions on their youth.

The 1978 movie entitled Magic, starring Anthony Hopkins, is heavily concentrated upon throughout the feature, as its television aired preview was something that stuck out in the minds of the young people who saw it. Specifically, the experiences of three individuals are shared with us through the narrative and visual reenactments. Ventriloquist dummies, and dolls in general, provide some of the narrative focus in addition to the movie, Magic. The movie's ultimate psychological premise is paralleled with the inferences made throughout the documentary, leaving us with a chilling conclusion that only begs further contemplation.

What I personally found most interesting about this Primal Screen short is the commonality of experience for children of the late 70s. What the narrators describe in their personal accounts is sharply similar to my own, which only adds to the overall impact for me. The main focal element of this brief study is the creeping fear associated with insentient human forms. It even highlights the phenomenon as it is represented in terms of psychology and sociocultural concepts.

The concepts touched upon here include automatonophobia and what is referred to in the field of aesthetics as the uncanny valley. Automatonophobia is the morbid fear of replicated humanoid forms, such as ventriloquist dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues, or any inanimate object that simulates a sentient being. What the uncanny valley refers to is that eerie, uneasy feeling that occurs in a person at the moment a humanoid figure is perceived to be unreal by its observer. The uncanniness is the unease and feelings of dread that builds in a person when they notice the strangeness of an object that is all at once both familiar and detached. The valley refers to that moment between recognition of a thing that seems familiar and the understanding that it is somehow not right, which leads to a dip in positive emotional response.

While taking us into the the three narrators' own experiences with the onset of this specific phobic reaction through the perceptive point of the uncanny valley, we are drawn into a better understanding of how pop culture and social interactions through childhood can affect our lives in very formative ways. It is therefore, a vivid psychological and sociocultural observation of how fear may shape us.

I think so much more could be touched on and explored on this topic, so I do hope that Shudder decides to make more episodes - though I don't hold out much hope for this since the one and only episode was released in 2017. That being said, though this episode is only 27minutes long, it does a really good job of drawing the audience in and leaving you to ponder your own fears that have come up through childhood and pop culture. I highly recommend this one.

As a side note, The writer of this documentary short, Rodney Ascher , is also the writer and director of the 2012 documentary Room 237, which explores various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980). I've seen that one also and believe it to be really well made. It's a lengthier production than Primal Screen at 103 minutes and really highlights the creative documentary talents of Ascher.

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 2 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed