Of all the change to movie culture brought on by the Internet, the prevailing fixation on movie trailers ranks among the most annoying. Impetuous moviegoers are quick to either decry or champion a film based on its trailer alone, which is problematic for more reasons than I can articulate, but predominately because such a practice refuses to acknowledge that movie trailers are nothing more than advertisements.
Forgive my hyperbole, but I don’t think there’s anything more annoying than hearing someone say, “I can’t believe that movie sucked. The trailer made it look so good.”
Given all the brouhaha that surrounded the recent unveiling of the trailer for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s supposed prequel to 1979’s Alien, it seems that I’m in the minority of those who actively avoid watching movies trailers. Personally, I prefer to enter a film without the studio’s concept placed firmly in my brain. Even if a trailer happens to be pieced together by the movie’s director (as David Fincher is wont to do), he or she still has a vested interested in the financial success of his or her film, and therefor will manipulate the viewer in hopes they will see it.
If and when I watch a trailer, it’s only after I’ve seen the movie. It’s interesting to see the ways in which a studio has marketed the movie compared the movie itself. A perfect example lies in a movie I screened recently, The Cabin in the Woods. The trailer does allude to the fact that the film is full of twists, but otherwise, it completely misrepresents its tone.
I won’t spoil anything in the event you’re interested in seeing the film, but suffice it to say that The Cabin in the Woods is, nominally, a comedy—and a satirical one, at that. Judging by this trailer, however, one could easily expect something completely different.
The tactic here is obvious: the studio wants to keep the audience on their toes by subverting their expectations when they see the film proper. However, those with a predisposition to disliking horror films* wont be made aware of some of the more universal aspects of The Cabin in the Woods and, therefor, will avoid seeing it.
There are many sides to this argument, but I remain staunch in my assertion that the main function of a movie trailer is to tell the audience that they’re going to like a movie—and if one has to be told to like a film, I struggle to find a point in seeing it at all…
* To be clear, I do not posses a predisposition to disliking horror films. I quite enjoy horror films and likely would have sought this film out even if I had not been assigned to review it.