Beau is Afraid trailer: Joaquin Phoenix stars in Ari Aster's new horror-comedy

Individually, actor Joaquin Phoenix and director Ari Aster have produced some memorably intense works. The former is the Oscar-winning star of Joker, Walk the Line and Gladiator; the latter is the filmmaker behind the skin-crawlingly creepy horrors Hereditary and Midsommar. Put the two of them together in the same room and you're bound to get fireworks.

Step forward Beau is Afraid, Aster's self-described 'nightmare comedy' that stars Phoenix in the title role. Back in 2011, Aster made a short film named Beau in which, "A neurotic middle-aged man's trip (to visit his mother) is delayed indefinitely when his keys are mysteriously taken from his door".

It's currently unclear if the feature film will borrow any elements from the short. The first trailer for Beau Is Afraid has arrived and it straddles the genuinely hypnotic divide between surrealist humour and outright menace. If the trailer alone can conjure these feelings, just imagine what the final movie is going to be like.

Phoenix's Beau appears to be on some kind of personal odyssey related to his overbearing (and largely unseen) mother. The film places the actor in various stages of ageing make-up and also throws back to the earlier Beau as a kid (played by Armen Nahapetian). Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan also turn up as apparently agreeable types sympathetic to Beau's cause – of course, that's bound to be a lie.

Aster reunites with indie horror experts A24 for his latest film and it looks like his most ambitious effort so far, even morphing into hand-drawn animation at key stages. No UK release date has been confirmed yet but check out the Beau is Afraid trailer and stay tuned to the blog for more details.