ByDavid Opie, writer at
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David Opie

After impressing arthouse fans everywhere with critically acclaimed hits such as Moonlight, The Lobster and Swiss Army Man, A24 are on a one-track mission to blow our minds once again with a mysterious new sci-fi trailer that doesn't even have a name yet.

Uploaded with a caption that simply states, "In our near future," the promo is a stunning work of art that raises more questions than the Riddler during a particularly riveting game of Guess Who. Featuring unknown actors across a variety of settings, A24's mystery project already has the internet freaking out over what the film could be about. Could this be a promising debut from a new director, or a secret project from someone we've seen before? Either way, people are talking.

Find out what all the fuss is about by checking out the trailer for yourself in the clip below:

Ok, now that you've seen the trailer in full, there's one big question that needs to be answered above all others, and that of course is...

...WTF Is Actually Happening Here?

Untitled Project [Credit: A24]
Untitled Project [Credit: A24]

Once you've managed to calm yourself down and moved past the sheer "wow!" stage, your reaction to this trailer is probably one of confusion. What's instantly clear, though, is that A24 are delving once again into the realm of sci-fi.

Originally, the promo was uploaded with the title “TOR TSR WITNESS," which could provide us with some hints. TOR is a publishing company that happens to specialise in science fiction books and TSR is the company that first published Dungeons & Dragons. While these allusions are far from concrete for now, it's possible that these words could hold deeper meaning once the marketing campaign progresses to the next level.

First impressions of the trailer itself are rather vague, due to the seeming lack of narrative and dream-like flow of editing used throughout. However, upon repeat viewings, it seems as though the baby featured at the beginning suffers some kind of medical trauma, leading the parents to perhaps keep him (or at least his mind) alive in some kind of futuristic machine. As his consciousness matures, the boy starts to realize that the world may not be what he thinks it is... or maybe we're completely wrong.

What Do We Know For Certain?

Untitled Project [Credit: A24]
Untitled Project [Credit: A24]

Of course, these ideas are all purely conjecture right now. After all, even the most logical and clear trailers can be edited in a misleading light, so let's focus instead on what we know for certain about A24's mystery project.

Throughout the minute-long promo, the following phrases overlay the footage:

  • Beyond Reality
  • Realize Feeling
  • Feel Bare
  • Bear Witness
  • Witness Change
  • Change Identity
  • Identify Questions
  • Question Life
  • Live Beyond

Issues of identity and perception of reality crop up here, potentially fitting in with what we've deduced so far about potential plot points. However, each of these phrases are still rather vague out of context and could arguably apply to the majority of sci-fi movies that explore similar themes.

Untitled Project [Credit: A24]
Untitled Project [Credit: A24]

One solid piece of information we do have though is a sign written in Japanese that's depicted close-up in a medical setting. Here's the translation in full, thanks to Redditor Minimalgibbon:

"Artificial Neuron System Disconnection Consent Form

Acting as the person holding legal responsibility for the patient concerned here, we acknowledge that the risks, complications, and expected outcomes, and options for alternative medical treatment including non-treatment, etc. have been been explained, and understand that settlement upon completion of the measures is permanent and cannot be withdrawn.

We acknowledge that we have been given sufficient opportunity to inquire about the condition of the patient, steps taken, and related risks, and further that all of our questions have been answered by the doctor concerned, and that we have been granted sufficient information. We approve the discharge of the patient concerned."


The translation reveals that the information on display is in fact a consent form that allows doctors to remove an "artificial neuron system", lending some credence to the idea that the baby's consciousness is tampered with in some way. Befitting of the genre, a time stamp at the bottom reveals that this particular scene is set in the year 2076, although it's unclear whether the rest of the trailer takes place in a similar time period.

Could This Be A Trailer For Ex Machina 2?

Ex Machina [Credit: A24]
Ex Machina [Credit: A24]

While none of the characters or settings from feature in the trailer, rumors have begun to circulate that A24 may be developing a sequel to Alex Garlands's hit movie, capitalising on the success that the first film brought the studio.

Although that could very well be the case, we doubt that this trailer is linked to a secret Ex Machina 2 project. Aside from very general sci-fi themes and a vaguely similar approach to cinematography, there aren't any solid commonalities between the two as of now, and director Alex Garland previously told Deadline that he never planned to develop a sequel:

“It has become reflexive for people to imagine this movie was made to set up a sequel and that the plan was built into the structure of the film. But it was not that way, at all.”

While there's a chance that another director could take over and develop a franchise out of the original story, Garland is rather protective of Ex Machina, and it's unusual for movies of this nature to churn out sequels. However, there's a slim chance that Garland's next project could be tenuously linked to this secret trailer, as the official synopsis describes 'Annihiliation' as the story of a biologist working on a secret expedition, one where the rules of nature don't apply. The problem with this theory is that Annihiliation is being produced by Paramount Pictures, not A24...

Could This Be The Trailer For A New Shane Carruth Movie?

Upstream Color [Credit: ERBP]
Upstream Color [Credit: ERBP]

When it comes to hallucinatory sci-fi designed to confuse and mesmerize in equal measure, no one nails it better than director Shane Carruth, who took utter delight in mind-f**king the hell out of audiences with his first two indies, Primer and Upstream Color.

It's no wonder then that some people have begun to draw links between Carruth and this new trailer from A24, suggesting that it could be part of the promotion for his next film, The Modern Ocean. However, that film features stars such as Keanu Reeves and Anne Hathaway working on cargo ships, so that option looks extremely unlikely.

The only other way that could be involved is if he's also working on a secret side project for A24. Fans of the director's work have long lamented the loss of his unfinished film A Topiary, but leaked pages of the screenplay suggest that this too doesn't hold much resemblance to this new trailer.

Could The Trailer Be Promoting Something Else Entirely?

Untitled Project [Credit: A24]
Untitled Project [Credit: A24]

Of course, the trailer may be designed to promote something entirely new instead, although the vague similarities to Black Mirror leave us pining for a cinematic adaptation of Charlie Brooker's acclaimed series.

Unfortunately, a quick glance at A24's upcoming film slate doesn't reveal many hints about what this new project could entail either. There's a slim, slim chance that the trailer could be linked to an upcoming horror mystery called Maybe It Comes At Night, starring Joel Edgerton and Riley Keough, but we remain doubtful.

The closest bet is a new film from director Yorgos Lanthimos titled The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman in a story about a surgeon who forms a close bond with a disturbed teenage boy. The medical theme does link with the trailer and Lanthimos is known for surreal movies after releasing The Lobster and Dogtooth to critical acclaim — but this idea still doesn't sit right with us given the story hints that the trailer has provided so far.

See also:

Mystery campaigns and surprise projects are becoming more and more commonplace after the likes of 10 Cloverfield Lane and the latest Blair Witch film, but none have captivated us like A24's new project. Whether this turns out to be a sequel to Ex Machina, a new film from Shane Carruth, or something else entirely, we're completely on board for what could turn out to be the best sci-fi film of 2017. Whatever happens, let's just hope that Oscar Isaacs busts out some dance movies in a surprise cameo. That's all we ask for.


What do you think this mystery sci-fi project is?

(Sources — Deadline)


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