This Week in Trailers

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 pray on things, get preyed on, ride the rail, indulge in a guilty pleasure, and figure out what to do when our friends have it out for us.

The Vigil

Director Keith Thomas is not messing around.

Steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology, THE VIGIL is a supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed’s dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong.

I’m just a fan of flicks made on the cheap that are competently crafted and look like they could be oodles of fun. The festival kudos it has received and a nod to the fact that the studio that brought us The Babadook and The Relic is a solid marketing strategy. The lone pull-quote, while random, might as well be a bug-light to attract the best audience possible to see this. It did for me.

Long Live Rock…Celebrate The Chaos

Director Jonathan McHugh oversaw the soundtrack for 1995’s Empire Records, one of my favorite soundtracks of that era. It only took 25+ years, but he’s made the jump to making movies and this is his debut.

Long Live Rock… Celebrate the Chaos is a deep dive into the culture of hard rock music. This genre, beloved by its millions of fans, is often misunderstood and maligned by media and the music industry. In intimate interviews, the leading titans of rock discuss the genre and the special relationship they have with their audience. Featuring members of Metallica, Guns N ’Roses, Slipknot, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Rage Against the Machine, Greta Van Fleet, Halestorm, and many, many more.

Those of us who are missing rock concerts, true rock concerts, can feel every moment of this trailer. We know what it’s like when thousands of people are thunderously moving in unison, and this pandemic has put an immediate kibosh on that. There is, literally, nothing about this movie that looks like it will match the thunder of a documentary like Hype! or capture the aura of something like Heavy Metal Parking Lot. However, as far as documentaries that explore fan bases (i.e. Trekkies), this looks like a happy distillation of what it’s like to be a fan of live rock-and-roll. (Insert your own sign of the horns here)

Happily

Director BenDavid Grabinski has more than piqued my interest.

Jack Black presents a deliciously dark comedy in which Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet (Kerry Bishé) play a couple who has been together for 14 years. Still as in love as the day they met, their honeymoon phase never ended. When they discover that all their friends are resentful of their constant public displays of affection, this charismatic couple start to question the loyalty of everyone around them. Then, a visit from a mysterious stranger (Stephen Root) thrusts them into an existential crisis, leading to a dead body, a lot of questions, and a very tense couples’ vacation with a group of friends who may not actually be friends at all.

Interestingly, and not surprisingly, Jack Black’s name is being heavily leveraged to sell the movie when reading the film’s synopsis. The trailer, however, lets things play out without ever mentioning it. At all. Whoever is the mastermind that possesses the kettlebell sized cajones to never insert this factoid for even a millisecond in the trailer is either the craziest marketing genius alive or the dumbest. I’m feeling more of the former than the latter. Still, it looks good enough as a late-night chaser to watch on the small screen with someone you love. It’s got an insane premise, and gets even crazier as things progress, and has comedic powerhouses Paul Scheer and Jon Daly, along with the always affable Breckin Meyer. Please let this be as good as the trailer.

Slalom

Director Charlène Favier’s debut is rough sledding.

15-year-old Lynz is the rising star of the French skiing scene. She will likely make the national Olympics team. And her passion to win is matched by the dedication of her coach. His inspiration and drive sees the teenager develop a crush on him. But Fred stays focused on her performance, pushing her to succeed. However, when she does start winning, Fred’s attitude changes and the boundary between teacher and pupil, adult and child, becomes irrelevant to him.

We’ve already seen one trailer this week bow that deals with sexual abuse in Beartown and this, while slightly different, is equally gnarly in how to make entertainment out of violations of trust. The trailer is exquisite in setting up the story of how one woman is on the road to becoming a star athlete, showing us what it takes to become nothing short of Olympic material. Still, when the proverbial worm turns, and with real-life coaches turned serial rapists, a la your Larry Nassar’s of the world, it doesn’t matter if it’s France or Florida, there’s a commonality with all these stories. They’re all heartbreaking, infuriating, and you wonder what it does to someone who has to come through the other side. The trailer takes us from the start and all the way to the end in a way that not only sells this movie right; it does the subject matter justice.

The Misadventures of Hedi and Cokeman

Director Julien Royal knows what’s up.

In Paris, Cokeman & Hedi are two dysfunctional dealers who use family ties to try and boost their small drug business.

Let’s get this out of the way first: this looks terrible. Like, appallingly bad. What I want to accentuate, though, is just how bananas it all looks. It’s a trailer that serves as a perennial reminder that lots of people are involved in making a movie, most everyone is putting everything they have into making art, and, sometimes, you get this. There’s no way I’m not at least giving this a shot. Hell, it’s free on Netflix. But, when you have a trailer that just sizzles with insanity and looks like it defies anything approximating reality, you’ve got my vote.

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 Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

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

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