The scariest thing about Nine Inch Nails’ video for “Came Back Haunted” isn’t the portent that avant-shock director (and “modern blues” auto-tuner) David Lynch imbued it with his Eraserhead-style horrors or the ultra blurry shots he got of Trent Reznor; more frightening is the fact that it opens with a caveat more chilling than the one that intros “Thriller.” “This video has been identified to potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.” And with barely a breath between when that warning disappears, black, red and white lights flicker as Reznor gets his creep on with the lyrics, “The throat is deep and the mouth is wide.”
But the suggestion that comes with Reznor’s lyrics—which, admittedly, is nothing compared to “I want to fuck you like an animal”—is about as frightening as the video gets. The first part of the video depicts a typically internet-animated image of what looks like a girl in a dress with a gas mask on flickers as it switches orientation. Then there’s falling lightning bolts and more gas-mask girl followed by a close-up of Reznor and a mangled-looking clay model that looks like it might have been turned away from the casting couch at Tool’s “Sober” video. More creepy imagery ensues, faces turn red and hole-punch punctures appear over Reznor’s face. It all fits the song, a typically synthy and poppy (but not synth-poppy) NIN offering, but ultimately it feels a little restrained. Then again, maybe that uncomfortable feeling is what they were going for all along.
Nine Inch Nails‘ Hesitation Marks comes out September 3 via Columbia Records.