They say it’s hard to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to world of cinema and movie marketing (and the plethora of films that hit theaters each weekend), it’s hard not to use a film’s three-minute long trailer to judge whether or not it will be something you’ll be interested in seeing (and with movie prices on the up and up, it’s hard to go in blind these days).
The illustrious Jack Giroux and Allison Loring rounded up the top 11 trailers released over the past year. They’re both for films that came out in 2011 and either lived up to or fell short of their promise and for films due to be released next year that have begun teasing us early. Plus a few honorable mentions because Jack and I aren’t super great at math (we’re writers, and I’m pretty sure you can only be good at one or the other).
From horror to action to comedy (and much discussion about the merits of underwear – you’ll see), our picks spanned the genres proving that it does not matter what type of film you are promoting, just whether or not you are able to grab people’s attention.
Listed in no particular order, let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree or if there was a trailer you loved that we missed on our list.
Paranormal Activity 3
This movie had a couple of different trailers, but really anything that features children and the idea that something is not quite right (and they might be in on it) is terrifying and these trailers played that idea up. The trailer that features Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) standing in their bathroom playing Bloody Mary (a game that also terrified me as a kid) and the slightly unexpected (and even more off-putting) scare that pays off in the end gives me a wave of panic when I watch it even now. All versions did a good job of linking this film to the first two as an origin story and possible explanation of what really has been haunting this family. AL
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Cool. Just cool. Who would’ve thought Fincher & Co. would have been able to top the teaser for The Social Network? Somehow they did. With the chilling imagery telling you exactly what the film is, along with Trent Reznor and Karen O.’s fully awesome cover of “Immigrant Song,” this teaser did everything it had to do to make one go over the moon for an adaptation with a not-so-great story. The energy and haunting mood of this teaser is perfect. JG
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
The creepy music and whispering voices were enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but when Sally (Bailee Madison) starts interacting with/getting harassed by these “creatures” the scares really get turned up. The idea of potential monsters that can be kept away with light (and what happens when the lights do go out) is a simple enough premise to sell this horror story and Sally crawling through her sheets (for what seems like eternity) was the perfect end to the trailer with the anxiety it caused paying off in the final moments with one serious scare. AL
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
You know those trailers you go back to watch over and over until the release? For me, that was the first trailer for Tomas Alfredson’s bleak epic Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Everything about it is painted as being beautifully atmospheric. While the pace of the trailer went for something far faster and urgent than the film’s slow-burn pace, it was well representative. Every image is so precise in this trailer that, if you blink, you’ll probably miss something. JG
This trailer really worked to depict the panic and confusion that would follow an uncontrollable viral outbreak and how it could isolate an entire population. The lines, “Don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anyone, stay away from other people,” “It’s figuring us out faster than we’re figuring it out” and “It’s mutating” left me wondering what was going on by giving away just enough information to grab one’s attention without giving too much away. Plus the ending with Kate Winslet covering up “our” faces with a mask helped make the idea of a world- wide epidemic even more palpable. AL
Unfortunately, J.J. Abrams film didn’t quite live up to the magical promise the Super 8 trailer made. With the James Horner tune from Cocoon, Abrams much fawned over mystery element, the beautiful child faces in awe, and every other Steven Spielberg tag one can think of, that piece of marketing made Super 8 look like the film of the summer. It gave one enough to feel satisfied, but not too much to feel spoiled — which are the core traits of a perfect trailer. JG
The Amazing Spider-Man
Although I am not a huge superhero fan, the moment Andrew Garfield (who first grabbed my attention in Boy A)got attached to this project I was anticipating seeing him as the webbed crusader. This trailer proves that Garfield may indeed have the chops (and the webs) to be our newest superhero. Plus getting to scale buildings from his point-of-view? Yeah – that moment definitely had me hitting the replay button on this trailer more than once. AL
The Woman in Black
It was obvious The Woman in Black trailer wasn’t your typical horror preview by the end. With creepy kid voices (yeah, that’s typical, I’ll give you that), an eerie as all hell score, and that terrifying final image, this teaser provided plenty of horror in under two minutes. Whether the film will standout from the haunted house/town herd remains to be seen, but this trailer certainly does. It hits all the horror film preview beats with flying gothic colors. JG
The Hunger Games
Probably one of the most anticipated trailers of the year, when the long-form Hunger Games trailer finally got released, I finally got truly excited for the film. And man do these games look as terrifying as I imagined they would. There are few moments in the trailer that aren’t rife with anxiety and panic and that is exactly the feeling I had when reading the books. With enough voiceover explanation for those not familiar with the story, this trailer looks to promise this one intense trip to the movie theater next spring. AL
The Dark Knight Rises
In IMAX, this trailer gave me chills. The first teaser did nothing for me, but this got my (along with everyone else around me) excitement level blasting during MI:4. The Dark Knight Rises trailer left my audience in silence. With the exploding football field and the cheesy action movie 101 line that is, “A storm’s coming,” this looks like Nolan going all cartoonishly and overly-seriously out, as portrayed by a suitably brooding and bombastic trailer. This is intended to be an epic conclusion, and epic is certainly an adjective one should use to describe this trailer. And, even with a brief glimpse and smile, Marion Cotillard stills wields the unholy power to make a jaw drop. JG
For those missing Middle-Earth, this trailer takes us right back into that world, but this time from the perspective of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), setting up a whole new adventure to look forward to. Promising old friends and new, this saga’s stunning visuals are back and it was hard not to get chills when all the hobbits all began singing together. AL
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