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Sinister: A Tale of Two Trailers

October 17, 2012

This article does not contain any spoilers because I haven’t seen the movie yet.  I didn’t even know about Sinister until a few days ago, after it had premiered, when I stumbled across this trailer:

Meh. This looks like every attempt at a creepy paranormal ghosty-monster movie of the last 10 years.  Start with an ominous shot of a house at night with very short intercut scenes of pagan symbols and hints at grisliness, all overlaid with a scratchy audio clip of a reporter recounting a recent murder.  Immediately follow with a photogenic nuclear family moving in because they “couldn’t afford to live in the old house.”  Then get even more cliché by having the author father promise his daughter that he’s going to “write the best book that anyone’s ever read,” and confide to his wife in bed that he’s “got a really good feeling about this.”  You know what’s going to happen next.  In fact, you could probably write the script without seeing the rest of the trailer.  Mysterious box in the attic?  Check.  Old reel-to-reel home movies that reveal a terrible secret?  Yep.  Research into the occult facilitated by a strangely knowledgeable colleague?  Bingo.  Progressively stranger occurrences involving creepy kids?  You betcha.  And if you guessed that the last, oh, 20-ish seconds of the trailer included lots of screaming, running, and strobe-type lighting, you win a prize!

I would see it only if highly recommended by friends, or if it showed up in a year as a Netflix suggestion and I was drunk at 1am and not ready to go to bed.  Then I saw this trailer:

Damn.  The tone and coloration are consistent and foreboding.  There’s hardly a word spoken.  Very little is explained.  Yes, it has many of the same elements and even some of the same scenes, but it is put together entirely differently.  The clips are longer on average and actually build tension without smacking you in the face.  Even the interspliced review comments seem earnest and convincing, especially the featured one by Eric Walkuski of that says “Sinister is going to fuck up a lot of people.”  This trailer builds an advancing dread, an atmosphere, hinting that something is different about this movie.  It’s worth putting a tad more thought into your advertising because—take note, marketing departments—I’m actually going to pay to see Sinister in the theater due to the second trailer.  I would not have with the first.

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