I love trailers. A whole lot of people don’t, and I understand that. It’s great to want to be completely surprised by a movie. It’s excellent to go in with that kind of willpower, but I just don’t have it. I love to be teased and there have been some great trailers in recent years that really sold me on movies I might not have seen otherwise. The Conjuring is a great example. I wasn’t totally sold on it until that trailer scared the living hell out of me.
Of course, trailers don’t always accompany great movies. That’s just the way it goes. Sometimes the opposite is true, too. There are plenty of trailers out there that don’t really do a great job of selling the audience on a movie that’s actually pretty good. And then there are times when the opposite is true and they sell a bad movie a little too hard.
That’s not to say every move on this list is terrible. They’re simply, as the title states, disappointing. They’re not what they could have been and that’s clear as day, because the trailers show what they could have been. That’s what makes trailers great when they do their job.
They represent a best-case scenario for the film. They put its best foot forward and hope that the feature lives up.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Even when I only kind of liked the first Resident Evil, the trailer for the second really grabbed my attention. This is one of my favorite trailers, just for the sheer inventiveness and tongue-in-cheek humor of it. It starts out as a really believable cosmetic ad and we watch the woman’s face decay into a zombie. Is it hilarious? Yes. Does it accurately represent the movie at all? Absolutely not.
I completely understand and recognize that The Babadook is hailed as something of a modern classic, but it still was disappointing for me and I can only go off personal taste. Having said that, the trailer made me want to see this movie so bad. It sold me on the story of a mother and son, on the idea of a monster stemming from a children’s book, of this creepy, evil, largely unseen force. What the trailer doesn’t show, at all, is that most of the film is centered around the parent and child yelling at each other. I have to give credit to whoever edited that trailer for toning down both of their manic, often obnoxious performances—especially the kid’s—so much.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
The trailer for the Elm Street remake takes some of the best shots of the movie and combines them together—just like a trailer should do. It gives you the familiar origin, it shows you the street sign, and then it just builds up the dread from there. It lures you in with a sense of familiarity. It brings you into a comfort zone by hinting at classic moments from the original movie, whetting your appetite. It doesn’t actually show the new Freddy until the very end. When it does, it’s just a glimpse. We don’t see much and it just gives us a peak at one of his few sinister moments. In retrospect, that was a very smart decision.
The Hills Have Eyes 2
The trailer for the follow-up to Alexandre Aja’s terrific remake of The Hills Have Eyes is basically one long shot. It’s a kind of trailer we see a lot now and it really does make for a perfect teaser. It’s just a simple shot of a man dragging a dead body on a rope, then a second person comes into view and starts dragging another rope, and it’s attached to the camera, giving us a victim’s eye view. It’s a fantastic teaser that the feature never lives up to.
The Crow: City of Angels
It might not be outright horror, but The Crow films definitely fall into the larger umbrella of horror. This trailer does a great job of showcasing the movie’s strengths: it’s visual style and its sound. We hear bits of the soundtrack, bits of the score, and get soaked in that great, Guillermo del Toro-esque flavor. It also sells it as a much more emotionally powerful movie than I think it actually is.
The Annabelle doll was one of the scariest parts of The Conjuring, so people were already excited for the standalone movie. And the trailer is really strong, especially the opening, which drops you in right in the middle of a crisis you don’t even really get to see. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t really live up to the scares promised in its initial trailer.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Curse of Michael Myers is one of the most divisive sequels in the Halloween franchise. A lot of people don’t like the plot or the attempt to shoe-horn in an origin for Michael. It’s certainly a bizarre sequel in both of its drastically different cuts. But the trailer is really, really great. It’s drenched in atmosphere, beginning with a shot of a pumpkin and Mrs. Blankenship’s narration of why we celebrate Halloween. The shot revealing Tommy’s obsession wall devoted to Michael… it’s just an incredibly strong teaser all around.