I know I complain about this every few years or so but, seriously, they gave away a *HUGE* spoiler in the Don’t Breathe trailer.
Here, let’s watch it again:
See what happens at 1:56? They give away the big twist of the film.
One of the things they could have easily done with this movie is billed it as “kids break into blind guy’s house but there’s a twist! He’s really a very, very dangerous person and we go from seeing him as the victim to seeing him as the implacable antagonist.”
See? That’s a pretty good pitch. I’d be interested in seeing that movie.
And then, when we watch the movie, we find out that the blind guy is also a guy who keeps prisoners in his house. They broke into the Silence of the Lambs guy’s house! Wow! What a twist! That’s, like, an even bigger twist than “heist that was promised to be a cakewalk turns out to end up being a deathtrap”.
And they gave it away. It’s right there in the trailer.
I can’t comprehend that. It has me go from “huh, that’s a cool conceit for a movie” to “huh, now I don’t have to see the movie” because they put the biggest twist of the film right there.
When I sit down and think about trailer theory, I meditate upon R. L. Stein’s great quotation: Every story has three parts: The beginning, the middle, and the twist.
Why in the world would you put your twist in the trailer? As an intellectual exercise, I’m going through various reasons to do that and I’m not coming up with anything even remotely compelling. Why not just put stuff from the beginning and the middle in the trailer?
I mean, sure, if your movie relies heavily on a twist (I’m looking at you, Sixth Sense!) you avoid putting the twist in the trailer… but why in the world would you give away the store in your movie trailer? Have they done studies that demonstrate that trailers that give everything away sell more tickets than the boring trailers that only give away the setup for the story?
(Featured Image is “Edison’s Telephonoscope” by George du Maurier from Punch Almanack for 1879)