Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?
This week, we see the frontrunner for the worst trailer this decade, visit the afterlife and then come back to the real world, hear the echoes of a prescient Robert Downey Jr. and Tropic Thunder by way of Sia, and check into a terrible hotel.
Run Hide Fight
I can get behind something that’s transgressive, but director Kyle Rankin‘s latest looks like straight-up garbage cinema.
17-year-old Zoe Hull uses her wits, survival skills, and compassion to fight for her life, and those of her fellow classmates, against a group of live-streaming school shooters.
I didn’t know what this movie was about before I pressed play. At the start, the trailer is harmless enough, almost skippable, but as the narrative unfolds here we see it’s not just a movie about a school shooting. It’s a school shooting where we have a hero assailing the perpetrators of that shooting. I’m not sure just what kind of wish-fulfillment fantasyland this is set in, but this is all just gross. The pull-quotes that extol this movie’s awesomeness are just as icky but, hey, they saw the finished product.
I’m just here to tell you that if you think school shootings are fair game within the action genre, you’re going to have a bad time. Elephant gets a pass just because of how well it drives home the feeling that none of this should be something that’s just acceptable. We all have lines, and I guess I found mine.
Director Alex Knapp‘s debut feels oh-so-solid.
Caught between a lost love story and inescapable paranoia, “Go / Don’t Go” is a genre-bending slow burn thriller that follows Adam, a wallflower who happens to be the last person left alive-or so he thinks.
Right up front this feels a little Lo-Fi. Small budget, small movie, but I also wish there were more of these kinds of movies right now. Amateur filmmakers out there, trying to figure things out, cutting their teeth on how to make a movie while we all watch, it’s ambitious. And, to be honest, they’re doing all the right things here. They’ve got the festival kudos front and center, but they’re keeping the narrative close to the vest, so I’m intrigued.
I like how rough things look around the edges, and it makes this last-man-on-earth conceit a little easier to believe. Sometimes it’s the more natural-looking productions that grab me more, and this trailer sells everything rather well.
Sia’s directorial debut looks both like an explosion of sight and sound while also feeling a little tone-deaf.
Zu is newly sober when she receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music, a young girl on the autism spectrum. The film explores two of Sia’s favorite themes: finding your voice and creating family.
The first part of this trailer, while not anything I would consider to be wildly offensive, is a little unnerving. It’s within any director’s power to decide what they think best serves the story they want to tell, but as we see how autism is leveraged here for a story about connection, I’m just not sure I’m down for the cause. The second part of the trailer feels like a completely different movie than the first, and, while I get what they’re trying to pull off, I’m not sure this was the right approach. Eve so, the visuals are lush and the songs seem rather snappy, so who am I to get bent out of shape for a narrative decision? This could be a refreshing sleeper or one of those projects that will come and go just as quickly.
Director Kourosh Ahari is keeping things small and tight.
After a night out with friends, an exhausted married couple, Babak (Shahab Hosseini), Neda (Niousha Noor) and their baby take shelter in the grand, but eerie Hotel Normandie. Throughout a seemingly endless night, mysterious disturbances ruin their night’s rest as Babak and Neda soon realize they’re locked-in with a malevolent force that hungers for the dark secrets they’ve kept from one another.
With The Night, director Kourosh Ahari made history for being the first U.S.-produced film to receive a license for theatrical release in Iran since the revolution. The psychological thriller follows in the footsteps of The Shining, luring viewers into a hotel that is both ominous and inviting, where the ghosts of the past still linger around each corner. The terrors that linger in the corridors are more real and terrifying than any movie monster in a mask. The Night will make you never want to spend a night away from home again.
These are the kinds of stories that are made for film. They’re focused, they know what they want to be, and they’re going to use the medium in ways to best maximize the impact of what they’re trying to accomplish. I was thinking this yarn was going the way of so many other thrillers that seem like they were funded quickly and produced just as quickly, but this trailer convinced me otherwise.
Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers for possible inclusion in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at [email protected] or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:
- Solar Opposites Teaser Trailer – Absolutely yes
- Search Party Season 4 Trailer – If you loved the first three seasons, I’m pretty sure this will be your jam
- The Great Escapists Trailer – Pass
- The Reckoning Trailer – Nope
- Locked Down Trailer – Maybe someday I’ll want to see multi-millionaires play/act like they’ve been affected by the global pandemic, but today’s not that day
- The Investigation Trailer – Stirring
- Surviving Death Trailer – Fascinating
- Chris Rock: Total Blackout Trailer – Sure, why not, it’s free on Netflix
- One Night In Miami Trailer – Audacious
- The Sister Trailer – Solid trailer
- Outside the Wire Trailer – I’m sure it will do real well with its demo, but this is just not for me
- The Wanting Mare Trailer – YES
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?: Curse of the Shadows Trailer: This is obviously not for me, but little kids might dig it
- Malcom & Marie Trailer – I like Zendaya but JDW looks like he’s fresh off the set of Ballers
- Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself Trailer – Best thing I’ve seen this week
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