Film trailer analysis

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Film trailer analysis

  1. 1. Analysis of the ‘Insidious’ trailer The film trailer that you can see above promotes a horror movie called ‘Insidious’, which is a film belonging to the supernatural sub-genre. The reason why I have decided to analyse this trailer is because I am also going to produce a film trailer of a supernatural sub-genre. Furthermore, I feel that it is really effective in promoting this horror film, through its use of appropriate and effective horror iconography and general & technical codes and conventions. Throughout the trailer the audience are constantly reminded of the genre and sub-genre that this film is promoting. This is achieved through the use of appropriate codes and conventions, both general and technical. The iconography used within the trailer ‘Insidious’ includes horrific imagery ofthe demonic faces and silhouettes that haunts the family and eventually possess the little boy, furthermore, the use amplified diegetic sound within the trailer makes it look even scarier. Those conventions will allow the film to appeal to the target audience as they would be excited to watch the scary scenes, especially where the sound is used exceptionally well. Furthermore, in this trailer the audience are also presented with a possessed child, which seems to be common among this subgenre. This will also appeal to the target audience, as they would find it terrifying to know that someone as pure and innocent as child could get possessed and become the source of evil. Another important thing that signals the supernatural sub-genre of the film are the feature of ghost hunters and ghost hunting equipment, who are there to help the family to get rid of whoever it is that s haunting them. This seems to be a common convention among the supernatural horror films. In addition to that the sub-genre of the film is also signalled to the audience through the use of appropriate mise-en-scene that is presented to them. It is very common for the scene to be set in an isolated/suburban location and ‘Insidious’ is no exception. The reason why this setting seems to be common among the supernatural sub-genre is due to the fact that the isolated locations means that there is no help available when the evil strikes, forcing the characters to fight it themselves. Non-diegetic text is used very effectively within the ‘Insidious’ trailer. The trailer begins with a green rating screen, which is a very common trailer convention. It straight away signals to the audience that it is a 13+ film, therefore, suggesting to them that the film will be not too scary, thus giving people reassurance and encouraging them to go and watch the film. The audience are then presented with the company logo, which is also an effective way to persuade the audience to watch the film, as the fact that the big institution has produced this film will give the film further credibility. Those two screens seem to appear commonly at the start of film trailers, one after, another, and ‘Insidious’ trailer does follow that convention. The next non-diegetic text that the audience are presented with is the title of the film. This is quite unusual and it’s a sign of breaking off a typical trailer convention that states that the name of the film should be shown at the very end of it. The title of the film is then shown repeatedly throughout the trailer, which could be seen as a good way to familiarise the audience with the title and really make it stick in their heads. Furthermore, the repeated feature of the title also acts as replacement for any sort of straps, which could have explained the narrative of the film. Once again this can be seen as a good strategy to make the audience feel curious and, therefore, luring the audience in to go and watch the film in order to find out. . References to other successful horror films are also very among supernatural films, and the ‘Insidious’ trailer is no exception. Closer to the start of the trailer the audience are presented with the following non-diegetic text: “From the makers of Paranormal Activity and Saw”. This will make the film more appealing for those within the audience who have seen or heard of these films and
  2. 2. know how enjoyable and scary they are. Finally at the very end of the trailer the audience are able to see the film title for the one last time, before they are presented with the release date and institutional information. By that point the audience would have been already persuaded to watch a film so, therefore, the next thing that they would want to find out is the release date. The narrative structure of ‘Insidious’ trailer follows the narrative convention of film trailers in general. The trailer has a slower start as the audience are presented with were the film is going to be set and the characters equilibrium i.e. the audience can see a happy family who are absorbed by their every day life. However, then the audience are made aware of a disruption to this normality by presenting a shot of a little boy falling from the ladder, which creates the audience intrigue and make them wonder what will then happen to the boy. This is also when the trailer starts to pick up pace, showing the characters reaction to the disruption. A fast montage of edits then follows showing the horrific imagery of the demonic figures haunting the family and the little boy, which creates tension and builds up the audiences excitement, as they would want to find out what would happen to the family in the end and would the boy eventually get possessed by that demonic figure that follows him. At the very end of the film this, however, stops and the audience are presented with the film title, which is then followed by a sing of the demonic figure coming straight at the camera, giving the audience the last injection of horror, before they are presented with the institutional information. With regards to Todorov’s narrative structure, as with all film trailers, the ‘Insidious’ trailer does not complete all stages of the structure; the audience see as far as the character’s reaction to the disruption. This makes sense, or course, as the audience will not want to see the repair or new equilibrium as this would spoil the ending of the film. The representation of characters within the trailer matches the narrative of the film very well. For example, the children are presented as very pure, innocent and week character, who are unable to fight the evil and, therefore, they are the ones who begun to get haunted first and, consequently, making their families very worried and scared. This could be especially seen in a shot where the child is laying in bed and a demonic figure is standing next to him or when the child is lying in the middle of the room that has been wrecked and there is blood hand prints on the sheets. When it comes to the representation of females within the trailer, the audience are able to realise that they seem to be represented as very caring and determine characters, who even during stressful situation are prepared to fight and stay strong for the ones they love. Yet even though they might be presented as very determine character, their weakness is also shown, especially through the worried and scared facial expression. Furthermore, the older female character seem to be presented as a very wise woman who knows what she is talking about, which once again reinforces the idea of women to be presented as very morally strong characters. Male characters, on the other hand, are also presented as very clever characters, who know exactly what they are doing; they are also presented as very strong characters, who are not easily scared. The use of the camera within the trailer is also very effective in creating meaning. The trailer begins with a medium close-up shot of the protagonist, which is quite unusual for a trailer since it usually, begins with an establishing shot of the location where the film is going to be set, which is a sign of breaking off the general trailer conventions. However, this can be seen as an effective way to inform the audience that this charter would play an important role within the trailer and who is probably one of the protagonists. Furthermore, this shot is then closely followed by an establishing shot of the huge house where the film will be set, which seems to be
  3. 3. popular among supernatural horror films. The audience are then presented with a number of medium and long shots, which introduce the main character and their equilibrium. After that the audience are presented with a long low angle shot of a boy falling from the ladder; the use of the low angle here creates the feel that the boy is falling from higher height than he actually is. The effective use of the camera and the colours here enables the audience to guess that this is a breaking point within the trailer, which would cause the disruption to characters equilibrium. The tension is then created through the use of medium and long shots, which show to the audience how characters get more and more aware of the evil presence within their house that is haunting them (for example, when the female is walking into the room where she sees a rocking horse rocking by itself), signalling to the audience that the main action is about to take place. After that the trailer really starts to pick up pace and a fast montage of quick edits then follows, where the audience are presented with a number of different shots that help to explain the narrative of the film even further. For example, the audience are told that it is not the house that is haunted but the protagonist’s son. During the fast montage the audience are also finally shown of the face of a demon that haunts them. Within the trailer, mise-en-scene is used very effectively to set the atmosphere. As I have mentioned before the film is set in a quite and isolated location, which mean that when the characters equilibrium is destroyed they will find it difficult to reach help. Furthermore, the fact that the main action will take place in the house is quite ironic since people usually consider their homes as a safest place to be in. The house also looks like a newly build house, which is a clear sight that the film is breaking the convention that a demonic spirit can only exist in very old Victorian style houses. This would scarier the audience even more, since they would come to realise that even though their house might be new it is still possible that it could be haunted. However, despite all that, the choice of the house is typical as it is relatively large, detached and is located in a suburban environment and it has an attic. The room within the house are always well lit, revealing just how huge they are. The fact that the trailer is mostly set during the day or an early evening, is an another clear sign that the film is breaking another supernatural horror film conventions, as usually those types of films are set during the night or when its dark. However, this might scare the audience even more, as they might realise that even during the day they are not safe in the house. Furthermore, this idea of the terrifying events happening during the day makes the film appear more realistic, since the audience wouldn’t know what to expect as appose to if the events were happening during the night like in any other horror film. Throughout the trailer lighting was also used in a quite unusual way i.e. the trailer was mainly dominated by ambient lighting. This concept once again made the film look very realistic and, therefore, much more scarier. Furthermore, due to the use of the ambient light the audience are constantly able to see the characters facial expression. Even neared the end of the trailer, during the fast montage, where the there lighting gets darker, the characters facial expression are still very visible. The use of the body language and facial expression was used very effectively within the trailer to create meaning and set the atmosphere for the film. At the beginning of the trailer the characters body language is very relaxed, while their facial expression stays cheerful. For example, when the whole family is sitting on the sofa their body language seem to be relaxed and they all are laughing and are happy. As a result of that, the audience are able to conclude that they are just an ordinary family who are very much happy with their life and where they are at. However, when the protagonists child falls from the ladder, the whole atmosphere changes, which could be seen in the
  4. 4. body language and facial expression of the characters. After that scene the audience are able to see more tension in characters body, thus showing them that something must be wrong. This could be seen through worrying and scared facial expression. For example, when a female protagonist walks through the door to find a rocking horse moving by itself, her body language looks tense and through her facial expression the audience are able to she is scared and confused. Closer to the end of the trailer, just before the sting, the audience are presented with looks of terror on characters face as they witness the demonic figures that haunt them. This creates excitement and anticipation for the audience, persuading them to go and watch the film so that they could find out whether or not the characters have managed to get disposed of those demonic figures. And finally, when it comes to costume and make-up, I could say that it was chosen effectively to set the appropriate mood for the film. For example, all of the characters are wearing simple modern clothes, such as tshirt, jeans and trainers, which makes the film look realistic and almost gives it a feel as if the actions within the film are happening in real life. This is an effective strategy to scare the audience as they would realise that even though you might live an ordinary life and look just like anybody else, you can still be haunted by demonic spirits. The use of costume and makeup on the demonic figure is also very effective, as his face is red and black and his eyes a red. The effective combination of red and black is vey symbolic as his face almost looks like the face of the devil, which instantly makes the audience feel terrified. Another way through which the mood of the film was set and the fear, anticipation and excitement in the audience was created, is through the use of effective and appropriate sound and clever editing. The trailer begins with a very sinister non-diegetic sound, which straight away sets the sinister mood of the film, encouraging the audience to carry on watching. The next sound that the audience hear is a sound of pendulum ticking, which can be then heard for a significant amount of time throughout the trailer with exaggerated echo added on to each tick creating a sinister atmosphere. Along this the audience are presented with a number of establishing shots showing the stock location and the characters equilibrium, the audience can also hear a happy dialogue between the character, reflecting their good mood. This is quite ironic since the sound of the pendulum ticking can still be heard on the background, straight informing the audience that the characters horrible fate has been already decided. The next thing that the audience can hear is an amplified sound of the ladder breaking and a boy falling from the ladder, which straight away indicates to the audience that this is a breaking point within the trailer. For the next part of the trailer the audience are presented with lots of cuts and some fade ins that feature the characters who are getting aware that something or someone must be haunting them , during this section the diegetic sound is also seems amplified, which can be seen as an effective way to add on emphasis to certain things. For example, when the female protagonist is walking through the door the sound of rocking horse rocking is amplified making it sound more chilly and nerve-racking. Another example is when the protagonist hears a male’s voice through a baby radio, yet there is no one in baby’s room except for the child. In the meantime the non-diegetic sinister sound on the background continues, which is a good way to keep the audience tense and scared. Closer to the end of the trailer the audience are presented with loads of quick cuts, which feature horrific imagery and the characters despair. During the fast montage there is a voice of female character who says that she wants to leave this house, thus showing to the audience her despair and how scared she is, which in turn build up audiences excitement and gets their adrenaline running. Throughout the fast montage the audience can also hear the sinister non-diegetic sound playing on the background, which adds to the scare factor of
  5. 5. the audience. However, closer to the end of the trailer, for a moment, every single sound seem to stop and the quick montage also come to an end, the only thing that the audience are presented with is a dark long corridor. Then the audience are once again able to hear the sound that they heard at the beginning of pendulum ticking, which once again results in tension building up. The audience can also hear a voice over of a woman saying that it is not the house that is haunted, but a protagonist child, thus confirming to us that it all started when the boy fell from the ladder. His is then followed by another, even quicker montage of shots of horrific imagery, followed by a very loud non-diegetic sinister sound that gives that last bit of injection of horror to the audience. Overall, I believe that the ‘Insidious’ trailer is very effective in luring in the audience and encouraging them to go and watch the film. The reason why I think so is due to the fact that the trailer does follow the general supernatural horror conventions, the sound is used very well and it is very cleverly synchronised with the editing. There is also evidence of horrific imagery that made the audience feel scared but at the same time excited. One thing that especially inspired me in the trailer is the effective use of lighting. I have come to realise that even if within the trailer only the ambient light is used, the trailer can still look very scary plus it adds a sense of realism to it as well. With this in mind, I will make sure that in our trailer the lighting is also used very effectively.

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