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The Monster Maven’s Guide to Recent Horror Trailers: The Good, the Bad, and THE VVITCH

Last night, the moon over the highway was heavy, huge and orange. Autumn approaches, and with the changing of the seasons comes a flux of horror film trailers. Some are chilling and exciting, and others are already demonstrating weak points.

The Visit, September 11

Say what you want about M. Night Shyamalan’s continued downward spiral (are we just saying that his early movies were a fluke at this point?), but The Happening was absolutely hilarious. I’m not sure Shyamalan had any idea how funny Marky Mark’s line delivery was going to be, but I personally enjoyed every minute of the movie, although its appeal was unintentional. I think The Visit, though obviously full of cliches, has the potential to be a really fun night at the movies. (Admittedly, a creepy old woman scratching a wall is like a copy of a copy of a copy now, with the most recent iteration being The Taking of Deborah Logan).

Goodnight Mommy, September 11

Are the boys evil? Is the mom evil? Are they all crazy? Why don’t the boys react at all when their bandaged mother turns around from…idly scratching the wall (why is this image everywhere)? I love when a horror trailer poses enough questions to be interesting without looking pointless. I’m sort of at a loss for words with this one, because there’s no way it could be bad. Even if it ends up not making sense, the cinematography alone gives me chills.

Cooties, September 18

I’m cheating a bit here because I’ve already seen Cooties. It’s…a rental. As an addition to the horror-comedy genre, it does pretty well, but something goes awry with the screenplay in the third act, and it sloppily falls apart on itself. Worth it just to watch Rainn Wilson, whom I’m still rooting for (I think I’m the only person alive who actually watched all of Backstrom)? Yeah, possibly.

Before I Wake, September 25

I have questions. Why does this trailer make the movie feel more like a boring fairy tale than a horror movie, which it’s being billed as? Where has Kate Bosworth been since she made my favorite movie when I was fourteen, Blue Crush? What’s with the creepy adoption stories; why is that a trope? Why do we get 1:30 into the trailer before exposition calls out what we already realized in the first scene? Also, this movie’s really going to enter the sleeping-is-scary realm although we already have Nightmare on Elm Street? And finally, why didn’t they get Guillermo del Toro to direct the daylights out of this?

Knock, Knock October 9

Oh god, they’re going to tack this movie’s promotional work onto the Ashley Madison hack, aren’t they? My only other thought here is “chocolate with sprinkles” is the most engaging and memorable part of this trailer. Staying far away from this one.

The Final Girls, October 9

I already posted a mini-review of this trailer on Twitter, and the film’s screenwriter was not at all happy about it:

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I stand by my opinion, though. Taissa looks incredibly charming, and I’m liking the aesthetic as far as colors (Wet Hot American Summer vibes) but the satirical angle on this looks a little…stale. What horror fanatic has been waiting to see slow motion lampooned as a trope of the genre? Didn’t we just fawn over Cabin in the Woods (and rightfully so)? The cast in this one will probably elevate it into being entertaining, but so far I’m not too optimistic.

Crimson Peak, October 16

Please excuse me for being far less critical of Crimson Peak than the other trailer on this list, because I truly DGAF. It’s the almighty del Toro back in action, shaping a vampire story with fists full of lush red silk, and he’s draping it over the crackling, creepy sexual tension that buzzes between Mia Wasikowska (who has natural ghost-face), and Tom Hiddleston. I am so, so here for an old fashioned ghostly Hiddleston-horror vehicle, post-Only Lovers Left Alive. I want to drown in the costuming alone.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, October 23

The gimmicks! Love ’em! I don’t care if this is a cheap Poltergeist imitation full of jump scares. You had me at interacting with a twenty-year old video tape in real time. You also had me at fabulous uncle-stache:

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Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, October 23

My brother is a Boy Scout, and the organization has always struck me as vaguely creepy, so I’m intrigued by the set-up here. You can already tell that this needs much funnier writing, and more memorable leads. If these scout-boys were jeering at each other a la Superbad, I’d be hooked, but they’re not. They’re barely saying anything other than describing what we’re already seeing. This probably should have been campier, especially if the plot involves boy scouts vs zombie cats. Commit, dudes. Commit to the tone by hiring joke writers, or don’t bother.

Victor Frankenstein, November 25

First of all, I love how Daniel Radcliffe’s career is unfolding into unnerving territory. I see you, Harry Potter, you want to creep us all out, now that you’re free of the wizard franchise. Although The Woman in Black bored me, Horns was pretty good, and Radcliffe has a nice ability to lock into a sinister undertone. His under-eye bags alone are very otherworldly looking, and they’re in full effect here. He’s apparently playing Igor, which is…cool.

Spotting Andrew Scott (an absolutely masterful Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock), in this trailer has me curious, although the dark-pop version of The Doors’ “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” is more than a little cheesy. As long as the film really hones in on the exceptional body horror in the Frankenstein story, I’ll be a fan.


Although these three films were released earlier this year at select festivals and indie theaters, I haven’t gotten a chance to see them yet. I’ve got my Fandango alert set to Boston, though, and I’ll be the first in line if they open in my li’l city. Alternately, I’ll also keep searching for them on my Roku. What’s disappointing is that the following films, in my opinion, have the most exciting horror trailers I’ve seen recently, and I haven’t even been able to see the movies:

We Are Still Here, January 2015 (limited release)

Old-school late-70s vibe, a la It Follows? CHECK. Creepy ol’ frozen wasteland setting, a la Fargo? CHECK! Horror movie protagonists of a non-traditional age? DOUBLE CHECK! Whatever the hell is going on between 1:22 and 1:24? CH-CH-CHECK! This one comes from the folks who made Starry Eyes, so you better believe I’m ready.

The VVitch, January 2015 (Sundance)

Alright, everybody, pack it up! There’s no sense in making a horror film for the rest of the year, because this trailer is so stunningly superior to all the rest that it’s almost laughable. I swear to G-d I dreamt this movie up for myself. The baa-baa sounds, the fact that it’s set in New England, the use of Game of Thrones actors, whatever’s going on with that goat transforming in the field, and on top of everything else, an actually scary witch movie?? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Get out of my way so I can see this thing.

NINA FOREVER, March 2015

What I found most intriguing about NINA FOREVER is the fact that it’s billed as a horror-comedy-romance. My favorite horror-romance is, of course, The Fly, so this has big shoes to fill. This one also strikes close to home for me, because the last guy I dated had an obsessive, dead ex-girlfriend who wouldn’t leave us alone.

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