Netflix users were recently taken by surprise when a new trailer was released for The Discovery, the latest Charlie McDowell movie starring Rooney Mara and Jason Segel. The film will be released straight to #Netflix in March after having its festival debut at Sundance. What stands out the most from this announcement is the trailer:
A curious, stunning accomplishment that leaves plenty of room for speculation, this trailer is a welcome example of how to make eye-popping promos without spoiling major plot points. Here's what we know about the film so far and some reasons this trailer changes the game.
What We Know About the Movie
While the trailer runs over 90 seconds, there isn't too much information about the film's story. In fact, there's only one line of dialogue in the entire video. However, we can still pick up a few ideas from background details, and a bit of outside research gives us a decent understanding of the film's concept.
#TheDiscovery is essentially a science-fiction romance story. Rooney Mara and Jason Segel are living on Earth one year after the afterlife has been scientifically verified. The film seems to explore the lives of those still living on Earth, suggesting that suicide rates are high in light of this new discovery. Jason Segel's final line in the trailer, "People are just gonna keep killing themselves," is a dark inclusion that gives the trailer an intriguing tone. There's no doubt that the movie intends to explore some stimulating philosophical ideas.
We also know that the film was directed and co-written by Charlie McDowell, known for his indie sci-fi thriller The One I Love, which dropped in 2014 to widespread acclaim. It's a safe bet to expect an equally fascinating story with a similar offbeat tone and a clever direction as we've seen from McDowell's work in the past.
Why The Trailer Works
While most trailers will tell you about a film's story, this trailer instead tells you only about the film's style. It's a bold marketing approach which hasn't been tested much in the past. There have been movie trailers which tell you nothing to build suspense and anticipation, a strategy Cloverfield attempted back in 2008. This is something completely different, however. It's not that the marketing team doesn't want you to know anything about the film; it just doesn't care if you know the story. It's more interested in getting you invested in the movie's mood and atmosphere.
This works for a couple of reasons. As a potential viewer, it's still possible to get excited about this film. The visuals, the cast, the tone — it's all clear from the trailer. Even better, you'll hardly remember a single piece of the plot going into the film. It's a win-win situation where you can get excited about a movie and still remain almost completely blind to preconceived details. While some studios fear that this would turn off potential viewers, many audience members would much prefer this type of trailer to one that notoriously spoils the best parts of the movie.
There's also something powerful about the trailer's construction. Since it doesn't have to run you through the movie's first few scenes and tell you about its main characters like other trailers, it can take its time to build slowly to a climax. The song is expertly chosen, misleading the viewer into thinking the movie is a smooth romance and then growing more distorted and bizarre. The visuals are important for this as well, with the trailer slowly shifting from simple, aesthetically pleasing scenes to more morbid, chaotic images. It builds into an off-the-wall trailer that makes the movie stand out among its competitors, and it definitely has people talking.
Setting A New Standard
Whether or not the film is worth seeing is still up in the air, but one thing is certain: this trailer sets a new standard. It conveys the atmosphere of the film without giving away any secrets and it gets you invested with its bizarre, powerful approach to promoting the film's style instead of its story. If The Discovery even comes close to living up to this trailer, then we've got a terrific movie on our hands.
What are your thoughts on The Discovery? Let me know in the comments below!