Monday, April 28, 2008

The Progression of The Strangers

The upcoming horror flick The Strangers, starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman (and, oddly, Australian model/actress Gemma Ward as one of the masked villains), has had a long road to it's release. It's been pushed back so many times you would think the Weinstein brothers had a hand it it's release. One aspect of the film's journey to the screen, however, that has been anything but frustrating is the marketing campaign. There have been three entirely differing posters released as well as several trailers.

This was the first poster released and it follows in the popular trend of making your theatrical poster look like one that's been locked away in a vault for 20 years with the fold creases and the faded look. The border, too, is a great touch as posters back then used to have borders all the time (for whatever reason). I really like this poster. It's very unsettling, I just think that the mask to the left is far scarier than the one they've focused on in the centre. The trailer focuses more on the baghead mask, so I think they realised that it was scarier than this old porcelain like mask. Still, it's very creepy.

Am I the only one freaked out when horror movies use "BASED ON TRUE EVENTS" in their marketing? Even if, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's a stretch to make such claims, it's just bound to rattle people (myself included, obviously).

This design if probably the weakest of the three, but I like what they were going for. Trying to show that this is like a moment from some old snuff film or something like that. This is the design that what probably created to get the gore crowd interested (those who only go to the movies to see the blood pour)

I have complained about movie posters before that simply use a movie still and throw on a title and call it a poster, but as I commented about David Lynch's Eraserhead poster (#31 Greatest Movie Poster of All Time) I don't mind as much when the still you are using is so strong, and that's what they've done on this third (and, I imagine, final) poster for The Strangers. They have taken the strongest moment from the trailer (below) of Liv Tyler standing in her home looking confused when suddenly a white ghost-like figure emerges from behind her, and have used it as the poster. It totally works because it sells the movie. This one image tells you so much about the film. Unlike so many, which just show you the film's star and are done with it.

It's perhaps even too subtle for some people. Not even everyone will notice the hooded man in the background. Some people I have read are even preoccupied with wondering why Liv Tyler is pointing downwards. They want the blood and the terror, but I think something as real as this doesn't need embellishment. That's why there's no retro detailings or big red text. Simply, but frightening.

The trailer is another story altogether.

That's not simple, that's not subtle. It's just downright terrifying. Definitely one of the best trailers of the year, and perhaps the best horror trailer since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake of '03 (y'all remember that trailer, surely). This trailer definitely makes me think those early rumours that The Strangers is actually a remake of the French horror flick Ils look quite founded, but it seems the villains (the "strangers" of the title) are much more in the forefront of this American film. In Ils you barely even saw the house invaders, this time they seem to be quite prominent.

In this trailer there are, what I like to call, "movie making moments". Moments in a trailer that sell the movie without a shadow of a doubt. This trailer has several! First is, of course, the moment immortalised on the third poster at 0:53 when the stranger appears behind Liv Tyler. The next is at 1:26 when Liv Tyler gets to absolutely scream her lungs out to the tune of a skipping record player and an axe-swinging psychopath. And then lastly is the haunting dialogue exchange at 1:48.

"Why are you doing this to us?"
"Because you were home."

And that is why I am sold on this movie. Now to just find someone willing enough to see it with me...

The Strangers is out May 30 in America and has a tentative July date in Australia. Click here for the official website.


Adem With An E said...

"Now to just find someone willing enough to see it with me..."

My best friend Ben & I are gagging to see this, and as a fan of Ils, I've been keen on this one since you brought it to my attention last year. That trailer is the best trailer I've seen for a movie in quite some time; you're right to be sold on it, that's MAJOR.

But yes, seeing as we all live in Geelong, we should form a group and see this one together, non?

Kamikaze Camel said...

We'll see how it all works out when the studio decides we're worthy enough to finally be able to see it.

When did you see Ils btw? I wasn't aware it had been released here outside of film fests.

Adem With An E said...

I downloaded a screener dvd rip of it late last year; it was mentioned in a Popbitch mailout as being incredible so I did a search on it and almost immediately found a nice HQ copy of it for illegal download.