Monday, October 4, 2010

A DoubleHeader: the folks who made the Case 39 trailer could learn alot from the Paranormal Activity 2 trailer

If you haven't seen the movie Paranormal Activity, don't watch the trailer for the sequel since it begins with the ending of the first movie.

I have not seen the Blair Witch Project, so which obviously more or less created this "Captured footage" horror sub-genre, because the marketing for Blair at the time it came out made it look pretty boring. I had no incentive to see a 90 minutes of some 20something yearolds lost in the woods.

I was once lost in the fake woods of central park for 20 minutes at sunrise on July morning while i tried to find where the line was to wait for free tickets for Shakespeare in the Park. So I can attest from that experience that being lost in the woods is pretty damn boring. Its Just boils down to lot trees and birds chirping. I did however run into two 20something year old guys and asked them for directions. They were polite but awkward and as I left it dawned on me that they had clearly just exited from the deep foliage after most likely having sex there, so I felt bad for interrupting. Based on the trailers for Blaire Witch Project I pictured it as being exactly like that experience, except even more boring since no one had sex in the woods in Blair Witch.

But the promos for Paranormal Activity made it look awesome and minimalist and suspense filled. This new promo is just as effective. It gives you a tease of the new plot developments (lots of surveillance cameras, a baby) without giving too much away.

Total Film magazine says the baby is sometime only visible in the mirror but not in the crib, which is a cool creepy effect, which I didn't notice until they pointed it out. I just re-watched the trailer that is indeed true. Though it took me 2 tries to spot it, even knowing its there.

Compare the subtle marketing of both Paranormal Activities movies, with clever use of actual audience footage in the first one, and the feeling of hype created by the second, with the trailer for Case 39. What is Case 39 you may ask? as I did when a promo for it started to play on top of an already playing video I was watching at, which would have been a strange thing for a video site to do except for the fact the metacafe's main goal with their layout seems to be to convince you to leave their site immediately and watch stuff on vimeo or youtube.

Let me wrangle my prose back in and get to the point: Case 39, based on this ad is apparently a generically titled supernatural thriller from Rene "Does Everyone find my squinting as annoying as Danny does?" Zellweger. It also somehow has in it both Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane and the awesome british guy who was the lead in Deadwood, despite the fact that those actors are neither annoying or terrible, which based on the trailer, appear to be the sole qualities possessed by these movie, and which are known to be the qualities exuded by Ms. Zellweger in movie she has been in since 2002.

And if you are thinking, "Danny this movie may have a terrible trailer, but you are being pretty hard on Zellweger, she's not really that squinty and annoying right? that's just a family guy punchline?" To this I respond thusly:

Wow. That is  much much scarier than anything in this trailer. Anyway, I'm sure Ms Zelleweger is a nice person, but no one's face does that without some one concentrating really hard on holding the muscles around their eyes as tight as possible. So Ms Zelleweger obviously has to put effort into doing this, so at some point she decided or was told the best look for her was to look like a chipmunk. Look this shot of her from Jerry McGuire. This is the same person. 

Anyway enough about Zelweger's devolution into acting solely using her eye muscles. The 30 second trailer that is being used for her new film (Case 39, incase you forgot after my long detour), is pretty terrible in every possible way.

I would embed it hear so you could see for yourself but the website doesn't have anyway to embed the trailer. They do have a button to send the link url for the trailer to your twitter account as a tweet. If you clink that link it helpfully provides you will the text "Just watched the creepy trailer for Case 39" I would mock the marketing folks behind this for including  this text since presumably the twitterer (twittian? twittite?) should be able to explain  themselves why they thought this trailer was worth posting. However, given the actual context of this trailer, the marketing people presumably correctly assumed that anyone who actually thought this snooze inducing trailer was worth sharing with their twitter followers probably wouldn't have had the guile to put together a sentence as descriptive as that totally bland one the marketing guys came up with.
(I just reread the previous sentence in an effort to edit it to make it shorter and easier to understand, and I ended up making it longer and worse, so I'm gonna quit editing that sentence before it gets so long that it becomes it's own post.)

The 30 second trailer, (which you can yawn through here) Starts out with the comically written line, "People Die around her. Not by her own hand. THEY. JUST. DIE." This line both starts and ends with an ominous "bong" sound, which doesn't do its presumed job of adding intensity and making this line not sound absurd.

Rene Zellweger at least keeps her squinting to a minimum in the 30 seconds they chose to show of this movie. In the next scene of the trailer we see Zellweger talking to a priest played by Ian McShane, who based on the trailer is criminally underused. I know that's a bold statement to make, but if i was directing this movie and realized how bland and generic it was, I would have had McShane play both the starring role Zellweger currently occupies, as well as the role of the little girl Zellweger is protecting. Watch the trailer, then picture the version where Ian McShane plays everyrole. In this version you should imagine McShane doing the Zellweger role in his Al Swearengen grizzled American accent from Deadwood, and playing the little girl by doing his equally grizzled actual British Accent. Don't try to tell me you would not be 100 times more likely to see that movie I just described for you.

The remainder of the trailer degenerates into a series of jumps to clips of what one is sadly forced to assume are the scariest images in the movie. This includes CG bugs coming out of someone's mouth, which would be vaguely clever if Stephen King hadn't used the exact same action in the Green Mile, shot pretty much the same way. The "bong" sound happens in between each of these cuts, again failing to generate any sort of suspense, though it did kind of make me want to got to a music store and play with their gong. I bet hitting a gong is fun. I bet hitting one for 90 minutes would be a lot more suspenseful and fulfilling that seeing the movie Case 39.

(If you are a manufacturer of gongs who stumbled upon this site feel free to post this quote from me on the box for your products: "This gong is way more fun than watching the movie Case 39!!!!!!" -Strictly Commercials)

My favorite shot in these quick cuts at the end is the one of the little girl sinking into the bed. I guess the rest of the scene would be someone having to save her from the bed suffocating her*, but in the short glimpse we see in the trailer of this scene, it just looks like she is lying down onto a really fluffy and comfy memory foam mattress. I want a bed like that. This movie makes me want a giant fluffy bed and it makes me want to somehow get Ian McShane to side on the corner of my bed and read me "Goodnight Moon" until I fall asleep.

After typing that my new main goal in life is to somehow convince Ian McShane to do an audio book of "Goodnight Moon." This replaces my previous goal of getting Ian Mckellen to read aloud the entire Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

*Maybe the bed is supposed to be eating her. First they rip off Green Mile, now they go after another classic suspense film Patton Oswald's favorite movie Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People (If you for some reason haven't heard Oswald talk about that actual movie, you should listen to it (Warning: He says naughty words.)

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