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?

Clown Trailer

I know, I thought Eli Roth was behind this too before I saw this.

Alas, this little piece of loveliness wasn’t done by The Bear Jew but what an honor to at least be thought of working in this space. With all the hubbub about the fake trailers that went into Grindhouse and how it served as a de facto proving ground for films that hadn’t yet been filmed I like that this kind of fake trailer making is out there and wish that this represents a movement where filmmakers are just taking their high concepts and putting them to 2:30 trailers. What better way to gauge what fan boys think than by making a trailer like this and seeing what comes of it? Sure, there are promo reels that directors peddle but let’s compress that even further, the trailer is a bite-sized nugget of all you’re capable of and a brilliant business card at that. Here, though, we get a taste of what two filmmakers, Jon Watts and Christopher Ford (at least I think that’s who did this), are able to do.

What they do here, you understand, is craft something that’s moody and dark while also being completely preposterous. Like any good fake they take the step of starting the ruse this is an official release by sliding in the Lionsgate and Screen Gems logos with not so much as a hiccup. Next, they add in that this is coming to you from Eli Roth, a detail, as I mentioned already, that was good enough that it made the man himself respond it wasn’t him and had no involvement. It’s the small details that are noticed and appreciated around these parts.

The narrative of the kids party was played up so well that when you saw that this was coming to you by Eli Roth you couldn’t help but feel a sense of anxiety that some high level horror is about to go down. You don’t think twice about the silliness of the guy finding a creepy clown outfit to entertain the kids but you do believe the weirdness that seeps in to the picture when our protagonist can’t get the make-up off. The lighting, the cinematography, it lends itself to serious horror if there is such a term and completely takes away from the nuttiness that this is about a clown.

Feeling like an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s The Clowning the trailer devolves into an even darker version of itself as the bad ju-ju clown spirit asserts itself over the guy trapped behind a smiling face. The beats and pacing are just so scrumptious to consume because you cannot wait to see where this transformation is going. In juxtaposing the final shot with the kid and the maniacal clown looking like he’s about to eat the young brood you’ve got yourself a movie that not only needs to be made but needs to have the real Eli Roth overseeing its production.

What Jaws did to sharks this could do to clowns better than IT did.

The Hunter Trailer

This is meant as compliment: Rafi Pitts has a Vladimir Mashkov thing going on. I am sure those in the V-Mash fan club, those of us in the know call him that, would agree that Rafi has a nice international vibe that could translate well to other movies like this as he has a steely eurotrash sexiness that could easily make him the next foreign language bad guy in the next Bourne installment.

One thing that Rafi also has going for him, besides being an actor, director and writer for this movie, is that I don’t know him from a hole in the wall. His relative anonymity makes this an engaging story from the outset as we open up with him holding a gun, ready to take down some game. When we see that this was an official selection in the Berlin Film Festival it elevates this film’s profile slightly as it inspires confidence. The jaunty tune in the background carries us as a picture of a family man emerges. He loves his kid, loves his wife, probably loves his life but even a drooling Neanderthal knows this can’t last. Thankfully it doesn’t because this trailer knows how to get in and get out with telling a compelling, yet quick paced, story.

The trailer’s music is completely in sync with the character’s attitude as he searches for his family who has gone missing, only to find out they’re dead. He’s got a little revenge waiting for the guys who murdered them when he learns who did it and the trailer’s vibe, its music, shifts completely. It changes accordingly as the bombast amplifies the guy becoming a quiet killer, taking out po-pos with a long range scope and we see it all.

I am not sure what the deal is with him driving like it’s the French Connection Aught 10 or why everyone ends up in a forest a la Rambo but I could care less.

This looks like a taught, thrilling story where there’s going to be some huntin’ and killin’ going on. Good to see that some things translate well no matter where you live in the world and this trailer looks head and shoulders above a lot of what I would consider spending my time, or money, on.

Into Eternity Trailer

Thanks to the guys over at Film Junk (seriously, guys, who do I have to hold hostage to get a weekly Reed Farrington podcast?) I heard about this film months ago and have been dying to see it.

Knowing it’s only been hitting festivals as of late, seeing that it’s been released in Sweden already, and looking at the release dates and realizing the UK is getting it in their theaters, I am left to deduce that these Nordic filmmakers hate the U.S. Why else make a movie so philosophically interesting and keep it from the legions of people who are most likely going to go rent Fred: The Movie rather than ponder its core question: how do you keep nuclear waste away from generations of humans tens of thousands of years from now? How do you let those people know this stuff is no bueno?

The trailer is operatic, literally, in its presentation. I honestly didn’t know whether to be moved by it or slit my wrists. The music is so sad and slow, the camera sweeping just as hesitantly, but that’s fine in this case. The narrator isn’t talking fast as he doesn’t seem pressed for time so it fits. The narration is great in that we understand what he’s saying but the words put up on the screen might as well of been written by a graduate from the Harold Ramis school of English as a Second Language. I don’t care if Queen’s English is your secondary lingua franca the phrase “Mankind exists 50,000 years” or “The pyramids are 5,000 years” is just plain wrong. You can giggle a little bit if you want to, I did, but I get it.

Documentarian Michael Madsen takes us on a slow journey to explain where the waste goes after you create power. It is so poetic to just watch the series of pipes and technology going into making a hiding place for all this byproduct of a system that’s providing life for so many. The music lulls you into a state of comfort as the narration goes on to talk about how long it’s going to take in order to make this deep cubbyhole down which nothing but waste will go. The number of decades it is going to take is astounding as well, trying to understand what in the world could take generations to build.

It’s all a mystery and the trailer ends without doing anything else but creating an appetite to consume more.

New Kids Turbo Trailer

The mullet, for my money, doesn’t ever get old.

Oh sure, you can use it in played out ways, as an extension of a joke or in a situation that needs it to define a person as somehow inept or stupid, but it’s true power comes when it’s in its natural habitat. Whether it’s someone like Doug from Ghost World as he brandishes his sweet pair of nunchucks or if it’s Terry and Deaner from Fubar it’s where the mullet is simply an accoutrement for the whole WT package when it still can be an excellent comedic addition.

Look no further for the latest in mullet hilarity than this trailer for a movie that has bruised my brain in trying to figure out what in the hell is going on. Directors Steffen Haars and Flip Van Der Kuil have certainly made a trailer, however, that is a joy to watch but the style and manner in which we get fed information is exactly how comedies should be sold. The content might be a little wacky and a little weak but style does count for something.

Getting past the obviously silly voiceover where we begin “In a world…” this trailer just doesn’t waste a moment in defining this world for what it is: the hillbilly epicenter of all things white trash. We get the slo-mo walk (always a nice touch in a comedy) and then the record scratching moment when we see that the dramatic talking was all a put-on as one of these rubes fires a bazooka at a van. Why is this idiot firing a weapon like this in the middle of a city street? What kind of breakdown in civil society happened to cause this mess? Why are these idiots laughing at it all? Not one clue is given.

Instead, we get an obnoxious techno beat that introduces all these characters in all their gauche glory. However ribald and purposely shocking as things are I find myself glued to watching what is happening in front of my eyes. From a dude being hit by a car, to one who is pulling his pud next to his best friend on a couch, to people getting punched out for no reason, gun battles that are erupting for seemingly no reason, I am rendered speechless by this trailer.

I may not really know what’s going on but the last piece of funny, when one of these troglodytes take out a pop star with a shot to the head, his buddy next to him gutturally laughing like a chimp, I had to agree with the buddy. It’s funny and I think an interesting specimen of what one culture finds amusing.

Anyone from the Netherlands out there willing to comment on this curious oddity are more than welcome to explain the nuances of this thing. [Twitch]

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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