Watch The Substance Trailer: Demi Moore Battles Ageism 5

Demi Moore plays an aging Hollywood star who embraces a secret cloning procedure to save her career in the trailer for The Substance, a surreal feminist horror pic earlier picked up by Mubi for distribution.

Revenge director Coralie Fargeat’s second feature, a campy body horror pic, debuted in Cannes, where it earned the best screenplay honor. The teaser has Moore’s character, Elisabeth Sparkle, fired as the celebrity host of a daytime TV exercise program by a cartoonish network producer, played by Dennis Quaid, and facing replacement by a more youthful and beautiful star.

“Pretty girls should always smile!” Quaid as the repulsive TV exec Harvey declares at one point in the trailer, mirroring the unrealistic real-life demands on aging women in Hollywood, where extreme measures like plastic surgery are used as last-ditch efforts to remain in work.

That leads Elisabeth to go to war not only with the misogyny of the TV medium but also with herself. She injects a secret serum, Activator, that produces a younger, more perfect version of herself, Sue, played by Margaret Qualley.

The problem is Elisabeth’s two selves can’t get along as the Activator requires her to spend one week in one body and then one week in the other. Worse for Elisabeth, Harvey lavishes praise and attention on Sue, while her older self remains thwarted on the sidelines.

As a furious Elisabeth at one point is seen aggressively swiping away the lipstick on her lips, viewers sense a more ambitious and not especially pretty version of herself is about to be birthed, with nightmarish impacts.

The Substance, from Working Title, Blacksmith and a Good Story, will hit theaters on Sept. 20.

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