Repentance offers a golden opportunity to everyone who’s already seen Misery, but would like to see it again with Forest Whitaker instead of Kathy Bates. Sure, there may be a couple other slight alterations too. Anthony Mackie’s writer protagonist deals in self-help books, not novels. Whitaker breaks the agreed-upon rules of “kidnapping your favorite author to magically fix all your problems” by throwing in a couple of extra kidnappings down the line (totally not cool). And there’s also a scary ghost mom that may or may not be a hallucination. But the idea’s the same: fan loves author, fan kidnaps author, fan tortures author in ways relating to author’s most popular book.
Go ahead and check out the trailer below.
Obviously, those who have seen Misery already know most everything going on here. But so does everyone else that’s seen the two and a half minute video above. Repentance (or at least its trailer, anyway) commits a cardinal sin that’s become far too common nowadays: giving away the whole movie in a single trailer. Trailers should entice us into wanting more. There’s a reason the typical pattern of “teaser trailer, then theatrical trailer” exists; a clever tease creates anticipation, and then a full trailer builds upon that anticipation with a clearer layout of what to expect.
But the key word here is “clever.” There’s nothing clever in the trailer for Repentance. It’s a play-by-play of the first two acts of the film, edited down to fit movie trailer length. Forest Whitaker giggling like a psychopath and waving around a power drill sounds like a perfectly good time, but there’s no better way to ruin the excitement than a trailer that plainly states, “This happens. Then this happens. Then this happens. Be sure to find Repentance when it eventually hits Netflix, then fast-forward through the first hour and a half to see what happens next!” Sure, there might be a few twists left in Repentance. Maybe ghost mom is really a ghost and not a hallucination after all. Maybe Mackie’s character has some horrible secret that he himself has to “repent” for. But at this point, any anticipation has crashed through the floor and is digging its way towards rock bottom.
It’d be less frustrating if it wasn’t such common practice. Take something like this year’s Carrie, which does just a thorough a job of explaining every single plot point in the film. Granted, Carrie is a remake of an adaptation of a Steven King novel (while Repentance is more a rip-off of an adaptation of a Steven King novel) but there are still some people out there who have neither seen the original 1976 film nor read the book, and would prefer to go into a film without having the entire story told to them beforehand. Carrie’s trailer can be seen below.
But remakes rarely top their source material, and in the same fashion, the Carrie remake trailer can’t compare to the sheer spoilage present in this ad for the original. The entire second minute of this two-minute piece is taken from the film’s third act. Bravo, 1976 Carrie. Bravo.
Then there’s The Double, which falls into some kind of trailer-spoiler grey area. Once you watch the clip below, you’ll think you know the entire story. Richard Gere and Topher Grace are hunting an elite super-assassin, and the trailer happily wastes no time in revealing that, yes, Gere is actually the assassin in question (I’d add a spoiler alert, but come on, now- it’s a terrible movie, and you had to have known there would be some spoilerage when you started reading the article). So The Double commits the same cardinal sin. Yet, the film contains other, later twists, and none of those are spoiled in the trailer. Does The Double really err on the same level as Carrie and Repentance? Maybe. Should you see it? Absolutely not.
But the worst offenders, by far, are semi-cheap horror films. Some strong parental figure needs to have a talk with films like Quarantine and The Apparition, and explain that if your main character is killed in the final shot of the film, that shot should probably not be the highlight of your entire ad campaign. All the requisite materials can be found below.
In most circumstances, spoiler-filled trailers are actually doing a public service. No one should be watching Quarantine or The Apparition in the first place, so turning potential customers away is a surprisingly good deed. Maybe the folks marketing these films are actually secret guerrilla film buffs, working undercover to taint the releases of less-than-stellar films in some kind of secret movie war that’s been raging for decades. If so, prepare for the onslaught ahead; 2014 holds not one, but two Paranormal Activity movies.