Trailers for movies are considered to be film advertisements. They are released months in advance so that audiences can observe and reflect about the character and story line of the film. Another thing about movie trailers is that they are made in order to entice and strike curiosity into people so that they will come see the work of art. Successful movie trailers not only generate interest, but they also are broadcast to attract huge audiences so that the film will be a hit.
With respect to horror films, these types of trailers generally begin with a tremendous booming noise. This is followed by a series of long shot transitions and a slow pacing. The camera focuses around a medium shot length, showing the majority of the main characters body. For example, The Conjuring (Wan, 2013) begins the trailer by routinely establishing the protagonist and other supporting characters. Furthermore, there is a direct voice over of the main character providing the background to the content of the film. In the exposition of the trailer, the producers utilize a relaxed calming style of music to make viewers feel safe. However, the transition from peace to horror happens abruptly. This occurs when the antagonist, who is either supernatural or murderous, is introduced.
The course of action in horror film’s trailers generally takes place from about one and half to two minutes. The longest trailer was two minutes and 38 seconds, while the shortest was one minute and 30 seconds. As the horror aspect of the film is revealed, the pacing and transitioning exponentially increases. The increase in pace is most commonly complimented by high frequency, high pitch music. This music is even sometimes replaced by the voice over of children singing, which helps to add to the eeriness of the piece. Furthermore, the shot length of the trailer zooms into close-up shots of the main characters faces so that the fear and horror they are experiencing can be expressed to the viewers. In addition, the sound effects usually emit sounds of the monsters or demons haunting the protagonist. Nonetheless, in the case of the murderous villain, the sound effects are honed in around the noises that come with brutal killings.
The final portion of horror film trailers is the typography. In Hush (Flanagan, 2016), the initial typography reveals the other various horror films that the producer has created. This tactic adds the audience’s expectation of the movie. In addition, three disturbing lines then follow the introductory typography. The first one reads, “She cannot hear” which is then followed by “She cannot Speak.” If this wasn’t enough, the final phrases lists, “She is ALONE.” The boldfaced words help to not only explain the situation, but also add to the impact of the suspense. They instill the terror into the audience, allowing the fear of the trailer to be conveyed and understood by viewers.
In contrast to horror films, recut trailers tell a different story. In most recut trailers, the audio synchronization with the lips is generally unbalanced. This means that what is actually being said is either voicedover and taken out of context in order to change the message of the film. For example, in Shark Song (Jaws horror film converted to dramatic comedy) the menacing shark is transformed into a singing sea creature. This message is conveyed via the use of an extensive voice over in order to explain the wondrous shark’s vocal abilities. In all of the recut film trailers, the use of a voiceover was necessary in explaining the content of the film. In all of the recut trailers that were analyzed, typography wasn’t utilized. Throughout all of the recut trailers, the main tool was the voiceover, which greatly helped in explaining the story.
Trailers: Hush, The Conjuring, Insidious, Don’t Breathe, The Shining, The Rite, Sinister, The Strangers, Paranormal Activity
Recut Trailers: Shark Song (horror transformed to Disney comedy), Mrs. Doubtfire (comedy to horror), Willy Wonka (comedy-musical to horror)