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: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

PressPausePlayTrailer

If there are creative nerds out there, and I know there are dozens of you who are more adept than I with knowing how to make your way through Final Cut Pro or GarageBand, this might be the movie for you.

Solely based on this trailer, filmmakers David Dworsky and Victor Köhler appear to have made a documentary that looks to examine the effects of what happens when you have an ever increasing ability to be creative in this culture and to have that end product beamed all over the world with frightening ease. Dworsky, for his part, looks like he has made something equally as entrancing to watch, the visuals here are pretty satisfying, as the trailer for his previous film, Om Natten, can attest to. With this trailer, though, the duo show why capturing a night in the life of some townies on a previous project translates well to a film that is simply trying to find where the intersection of true artistry and the mass populace trying to emulate them actually is.

Moby, who probably could find a second career reading audio books as his voice is just so even and smooth, carries us through what is the best explanation of what we’re dong here in the first place. He talks about the rise of the homebrew creationist, those who are fashioning music, works of art, out of their living spaces without the support infrastructure of a big organization. Where once people had to travel to experience these mediums, these collected works of sonic or visual art, there is no longer a barrier to entry. The idea isn’t especially novel but the presentation is.

The talking heads that talk about whether this flood of talent, for better or for worse, is actually elevating the collective consciousness in any meaningful way is an interesting one that, I think, has not been explored and makes this an even more fascinating project. On one hand, we get someone who thinks this isn’t a great thing for the creative environment and another who thinks it’s a beautiful anarchy. The diverse voices clashing together is pleasant, thought provoking.

Before you know it, trailer’s over and I’m wondering just how far this hole goes with regard to the exploration of whether the sheer amount of artistry going on with regard to writing, music, out there is helping or hindering true innovation and if we’re focused on the right things. I’m on board for this documentary without question.

Grave Encounters Trailer

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way.

Yes, all this happens in an old mental hospital. Yes, this all feels like a “found footage” kind of film. Yes, the “archival footage” kind of looks like an “archive” of what someone from 2010 would do to try and make it seem like it was decades in the past. That said, however, I really liked this trailer. More than I ought to, perhaps, but I loved the little moments of terror and I sure am a fan of the effects that we get to see. It’s ultimately pretty inspiring to see what a little money and a whole lot of inspiration can do.

To that end, if you’re strapped for a budget when making a film you have to decide whether it’s the talent you want to splurge on, if it’s the equipment you need to make your movie that much better, whether you’re going to get the bakery fresh donuts or wait for the day-old’s to go on sale at the local Kroger, or, in this case, if effects is going to be where you maximize your gains. It looks like this crew chose the latter and it’s the one thing that really elevates this trailer from ho-hum mediocrity to full on fun. It literally looks like a gamble that filmmakers The Vicious Brothers took and it has paid off well.

There isn’t much to support the idea that this crew spent hundreds of thousands on the effects but it’s obvious that a lot of work went into making a movie that is within its genre where specters and ghosts are the subjects and we’re taking the perspective of an unknowing audience, not being let in on anything until our protagonists experience it. While we don’t get a lot of narrative background about what we’re really doing here, basically learning this is a television show that investigates the paranormal and, surprise surprise, this is the last episode, that just leaves one road pointing that this movie is going to be all about the thrill. Whether or not this film can deliver on being a little hokey, but full-on bringing it with the scares, is irrelevant as all it has to do here is entice your mind with the promise it can based on what’s here. And, from what is here, the money shot we get at the end is the right kind of payoff to make anyone who appreciates films like Paranormal Activity believe this could be the next one they need to check out.

Count me as one of them.

Killer God Trailer

Stasch Radwanski has made something that may play just as well as any other indie horror film getting kudos in the market today.

What I like about the threadbare production of a film that needs to be a little scary, a little frightening, but is low on actual money to compete with the Scream’s of the world, is the heart that goes into compensating for the very hard monetary wall many can run into. You’ve got to create the illusion of abundant wealth and endless imagination and I think this trailer does that effectively in a very lean fashion without ever going over the top.

To kick it off, we get all we need to know about what this movie is going to deal with: Witches from Bali. Rangda is supreme spirit witch, who I found is given to eating children, and I like that in the first thirty seconds we’re hot on the hunt for what is haunting this small island town in the middle of a cold winter, in the middle of nowhere. Without so much as introducing anyone from he film we establish the crux of the narrative, what’s at stake for those involved, what the physical incarnations might look like, and what kind of mystery needs to be solve.

The editing may be a little too quick with its jumpiness but there’s killing, a whole lot of it, going down and we’re not denied some great sequences that build up the promise that we’re going to get some quality slaughtering. Huzzahs all around for getting multiple looks at the beat that apparently is cutting through townsfolk like a sushi chef preparing sashimi, the many masks this brutal beast takes on varies with enough frequency to make you wonder what in the hell is going on. To that end, it’s hard to discern what kind of thing we’re dealing with here as people are being levitated off the ground based on the power of this Brady Bunch-like talisman/mask which seems to be at the root of it all.

I may not know what’s happening, precisely, but I do know people are going to die and I love it. [Twitch]

Las Malas Intenciones (The Bad Intentions) Trailer

What’s up with little kids being such heinous little monsters?

We’ve seen movies like Orphan and the remake of The Omen that these little terrors are capable of monstrous things as writers thought of ways to enable them to be just as evil as their older counterparts. Now, with a movie like this, it seems that the devil isn’t really in the details as it could just be mental illness and I love it. It’s a different kind of horror film, one where ax murderers aren’t roaming the suburban streets, as it’s more like a horror film that shows what happens when a girl gets something really disturbing in her mind that doesn’t let go.

What we learn early on, and bless this trailer for just getting right to it, is the girl we’re going to follow doesn’t think too much of her mother’s pregnancy. So much so that she believes she will die the day her brother is born. Call me twisted but I am so in.

Following this admission, the world is tinged with the perfect kind of morose sensibilities which is spectacularly captured by Peruvian writer/director Rosario Garcia-Montero as every scene we’re given feels like death is dripping at the edges of it.  Now, I realize it’s humorous to hear this little lady talk about the maladies that plague her as we get to know who she is, especially the scene where she feeds her parakeet a most dangerous concoction that will no doubt kill it when she thinks it needs some medicine, but there’s a moroseness to what we see here and this girl seems more like a fascinating oddball who could either get simply withdrawn or full-on homicidal.

I realize that the horror here isn’t so much the classical kind we’re all used to but there’s just something about the halo of finality that hangs over the head of a child that is genuinely scary. The girl may not be on the hunt to kill anyone but her processing of life, of death, of what finality means in comparison to her existence, is something we all have to work our way through at one point or another. To see her dealing with it, though, is both interesting and heartbreaking.

The trailer gives a glimmer of hope that this girl won’t actually die on the day her brother is born but I have an awful feeling that the smiling, happy little lady we’re shown who realizes that the fly she’s helped to displace with a jar can no longer see its family is going to meet an untimely demise by the end of the film. Regardless, there’s a lot to process here and there’s just something to be said about a trailer that is a simple delight to watch while pondering what could be a coming of age film for a girl who hasn’t yet reached puberty.  [Twitch]

Cross Trailer

I am sorry.

I realize there was probably a lot of resources, heart, and passion that went into the making of this movie. No one ever sets out to make a bad film but, after watching this, I’m pretty sure everyone involved was trying their hardest to outdo The Room and make this a direct-to-DVD piece of disposable detritus worth hating for no other reason than knowing the actors in Cross probably made more money here than you did jockeying a keyboard and monitor inside your gray colored cubicle.

Hyperbole is reserved for the truly awful, I like to save mine like a squirrel stashing away nuts for a harsh winter, and as you watch this trailer it’s apparent that there is an ugly beauty going on as you realize how many different “worst” adjectives you can ascribe to what’s happening in front of you. From its horrendous editing, awful effects work, ear-stabbingly painful dialogue, and its public access level of acting I am hard pressed not to think this is a joke. At some points I wondered, honestly, if this wasn’t a spoof skit that’s eventually going to find its way as the opening trailer for Laser Cats. Alas, I think it actually does exist and I think it may very well be the harbinger for the apocalypse if this trailer is any indication.

These actors may not be Oscar level thespians but what is on display here is a showcase of suck. It’s kind of like watching a reality show where ordinary people have to degrade themselves doing something that not even the most desperate pauper would be loathe to do (look no further than the entire series of Downfall for an idea of how this works) but it seems like everyone here is lumbering through a film where it was the strength of the payday, not the script, was the motivating factor. This being director Patrick Durham’s first film could earn him some slack if there was something I could like about this trailer, and I really tried, kind of like how Ack Ack tried to help Hoops in his game of HORSE against Teddy Beckersted, but I’ve watched this thing a dozen times and every time I cringe for all involved. It’s a feeling of pity, to be quite honest.

What’s more, there’s barely a shred of coherent narrative. You have Vinnie Jones being even more terrible than he usually is whenever he’s delivering bombastic dialogue as the bringer of all things evil and Brian Austin “But You’ll Always Be David Silver To Me” Green as the lucky Celtic warrior entrusted to being harmony to the universe but I don’t have a clue why the two are battling. On top of this, everyone else involved in this trailer is just rattling off quip after quip that has nothing to do with anything meaningful at all. Honestly, and if we’re all being genuinely honest here, if you were to take out everything except the dialogue being spoken you would have thought this was a movie written by a thirteen year-old boy enamored with comics, the movie Predator, and the oeuvre of Jean Claude Van Damme. It makes me ill thinking of all the movies that aren’t being made while this one exists for all to behold.

As it stands, this looks like a movie best experienced drunk, high, or while in a coma. It’s a trailer that defies any logical explanation other than it is perhaps the worst trailer I’ve seen all year.

Note bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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