Trailers have caught a lot of flak this year, mostly for giving away far too much of the movie. From The Revenant to Terminator: Genisys to Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, movie-goers generally like a reason to go to the movies. The flip side of that phenomenon, which happens more rarely, is when movie trailers flat out lie to you.
And no, I’m not talking about a joke that was changed or a timeline that was played with. I’m talking about lies. Allow me to explain:
Warning: Spoilers for All Movies Listed Below
The Lie: The Anomalisa trailer would have you believe that it’s a movie about life and individuality. “What does it mean to be alive?” and “Look for what is special about each individual” are two of the lines dubbed over the trailer. What the trailer doesn’t tell you is that all of the ADR lines in the trailer are from one speech in the movie, where Michael Stone, the speaker of the lines, doesn’t believe a word he is saying.
Anomalisa is actually about depression, and how that depression can prevent you from recognizing beauty in anything.
Why They Lied: “This is a movie about depression” won’t exactly put butts in seats.
4. The Gift
The Lie: It is heavily implied in The Gift trailer that it’s a simple case of the weird guy from high school who takes his violent revenge on the unsuspecting family. Brief shots of a physical struggle, someone holding a knife and a rock being thrown through a window all lend themselves to the idea that this “Gordo, the Weirdo” will be playing a sick game in a plot to murder the innocent Callum family.
Why They Lied: Anyone who has seen The Gift knows there is a lot more going on than what the trailer will have you believe. In this case, though, that was the point. Giving away even the tiniest detail about the implication of Bateman’s character or the more psychologically sinister plans of Gordo would take all the bite out of actually seeing the movie. And what we learn here is that sometimes it’s better to lie.
3. Hail, Caesar!
The Lie: The trailer for the Coen Brothers’ latest flick would have you believe that George Clooney is kidnapped, and Josh Brolin has to assemble a rag-tag team of actors to thwart the kidnappers’ efforts. How the trailer cuts together dialogue to make it seem like Brolin recruits Scarlett Johansson to manipulate Jonah Hill into giving her the ransom money is unmistakable.
Upon seeing the movie, you realize that Hail, Caesar! is not a quirky movie about kidnapping a doltish actor. In fact, the movie treats the kidnapping as just another thing that Brolin has to handle, and the Coen Brothers’ true focus is on the industry of Hollywood, acting all at once as a love-letter and a middle finger.
Why They Lied: The person in charge of creating a trailer for this movie had a damn hard job. If you were to see this movie without having seen the trailer, and then you had to explain what it was about to a friend of yours, I bet you anything you wouldn’t be able to do it in 2:26. Best thing to do was pick a subplot and run with it, and the trailer is cut masterfully to make you believe that kidnapping is all it’s about.
2. Crimson Peak
The Lie: Crimson Peak was heavily advertised as a horror movie. This was, of course, undercut by the repeated public assertion by Guillermo Del Toro, the film’s director, that Crimson Peak is not a horror movie. This wasn’t just a popular misunderstanding about the trailer, either. The trailer focuses entirely on the ghosts, and the “specific” “violent deaths,” putting the main character in constant danger. As Del Toro puts it, however, Crimson Peak is a Gothic Romance, where the ghosts are exactly as stated in an on-the-nose line spoken by Mia Wasikowska: just a metaphor for the past.
Why They Lied: This lie has all the stink of a slimy studio head deciding that a horror movie would sell more. That’s where my money is.
1. Fantastic Four
The Lie: The last bit in the trailer is made up of four pieces spliced together – a shot of The Thing jumping out of a plane, followed by a shot of someone appearing to ask Reed Richards “how long until he’s in?” to which Reed responds “two minutes,” followed by a shot of The Thing abruptly dropping into a military base and wreaking havoc, followed by a return-shot of Reed saying “might be a little less,” with a final shot of Kate Mara smirking and chuckling at the apparent joke.
Of course, all four of these pieces – The Thing, Reed Richards, men in suits and Kate Mara laughing – all happen at completely different parts of the movie, and how each of these parts actually play out in Josh Tranks now-disowned film are not at all entertaining or kinetic like the trailer wants you to believe.
Next: Ranking the Coen Brothers Movie Trailers
Why They Lied: It’s abundantly clear to anyone watching the movie why the trailer lied to us – there was nothing good or interesting in Fantastic Four to show, and whoever made the trailer was the only person credited in the movies’ production who actually did their freaking job and did it well.