Confession time: I am a movie trailer addict. The number of trailers that I have watched in my lifetime by now must number in the thousands, far outnumbering the number of actual films I have seen. There are many reasons why I watch so many trailers, but the main one is that I see movie trailers as an art form, and when done right, they capture both the look and feel of the film, while giving away just enough information to pique your interest, but holding back enough to allow for surprises and discoveries when you finally see the film. Trailers can be witty and laugh out loud funny, visual artistic statements, or a master class in fragmented storytelling. At their best, trailers can be short films in their own right, whose quality can sometimes outshine the movie itself. When I find a good trailer it stays with me, and I remember it long after I forget the details of the film.
The other night I was browsing the shelves at a movie rental store (although an endangered species, they do still exist), and I came across a movie that although I haven’t seen, the trailer is one that has definitely stayed with me. Released to critical acclaim in September of 2010, Buried tells the story of an American truck driver, played by Ryan Reynolds, who is captured in Iraq and buried alive in a coffin with only a cell phone, a lighter, and a dwindling supply of oxygen to keep him alive. The entire film takes place in the coffin and chronicles his attempts to survive. When I first heard about this film, I remember wondering how they were going to create a trailer for a film that has essentially one look: a guy in a dark box. The trailer that was released is to this day one of my all time favourites, as it managed to cleverly bypass giving away the whole film by not revealing any footage. Instead, a visual montage of photos tied together with simple graphics, all underscored by dialogue from the film, combined to create a trailer that managed to keep me riveted, and ultimately wanting more. By using only photographs and its highly effective soundtrack, the trailer conveys the sense of claustrophobia, confinement, and restrictiveness that defines this film, and sets the stage for what I can only assume is an intense hour and a half of viewing. All in all, it is unique, brilliant, extremely effective, and in my opinion, the perfect trailer.
To this day I remember the goosebumps I felt while watching this trailer for the first time, and how I marvelled at its creators’ ingenuity in making the impossible: an engrossing trailer for a one shot film. After returning home from my movie store excursion last night, I re-watched the trailer and once again felt goosebumps at how much it is able to convey in a mere 90 seconds. It certainly caught my attention, and now Buried is waiting in my stack of rentals to be seen in its entirety. I can only hope that the film is as good as the one used to promote it.