“Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way too.”
If you've ever read the Series of Unfortunate Events books you'll probably know they're dark. Ostensibly these are kids' books, but narrator Lemony Snicket tells a story of death and doom which is unrelentingly bleak. He laments his own forthcoming execution. The three protagonists, the Baudelaire orphans, lose their parents in a fire and are constantly and ruthlessly pursued by Count Olaf, an evil master of disguise desperate to swindle their fortune from them. It's not exactly Thomas the Tank Engine.
In fact, the only happy thing about A Series of Unfortunate Events is that Netflix is turning it into a TV series, and there's a 97% chance it's gonna be better than the previous movie adaptation.
If you're a fan of the books or the film and you don't live in a damp cave, you've probably already seen the trailer for the Netflix series, due later this year. Here it is just in case.
Looks incredible, right? Only the internet can't seem to decide if it's real or fanmade - which sounds ridiculous because it's way too awesome to be made by a fan, unless the fan in question has a lot of money and doesn't mind spending it in order to troll the entire internet. In which case, hats off to them.
Anyway, Netflix have played it down, so the theories about whether it's real or not will just have to rumble on. If it really isn't made by Netflix though, they could be in the cruel position of producing a series which can't live up to the fan expectations created by its epic teaser.
A decidedly unfortunate event, but it wouldn't be the first time. Let's have a look at five other films and TV series whose trailers were misleadingly epic.
In fifth place, appropriately enough...
5. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
OK, this is a small cheat. When I saw this trailer in the cinema I thought it was giving double awesome, but watching it back I see that the signs were there all along. Somebody, somewhere, honestly that voiceover was a good idea.
The film itself is not bad - it's just not the film the books deserved. The tone is a little off - a little too farcical, a little too light to really respect the blackness which underpins the story of three orphans who've been dealt the crappiest hand in life. As Violet Baudelaire, Emily Browning is slightly too vacant to play the heroine, although Jim Carrey is giving it 150% and gets plenty of laughs. You can't go wrong with Jim Carrey.
On a scale of 1 to The Golden Compass, this film is not a disaster, but we know Netflix can do better.
4. House of Cards (season 2 - 2014)
The first season of House of Cards was not just great - it changed everything. Suddenly everybody was binge-watching their favourite shows, and television networks were becoming redundant. What better way to introduce people to the Netflix model than with a pitch-black, slick and deathly funny thriller directed by David Fincher (aka the greatest director in Hollywood) and starring Kevin Spacey?
So obviously, season two had a lot to live up to. And it never quite got there.(Spoilers ahead, just in case.)
Sure, there was greatness in the second seasons, from the deliciously gruesome, unforeseen murder of Zoe Barnes, which had social media imploding en masse, to that scene in which Frank and Claire lure Frank's loyal security guy Edward Meechum into the marital bed. (The Clintons never did it quite like that.) And the humour wasn't gone either - in the final, and greatest scene of the first episode, Frank removes his rings - inscribed with his initials - and places them on the dresser, giving a literal FU to the audience.
But it's difficult to live up to an almost-perfect debut season, and season two faltered when it got stuck on the political mechanisms of the Chinese, and Frank's apparently endless battle with Raymond Tusk. As Revenge discovered in its second season, inventing a new villain and having them dominate is just not that satisfactory, especially when that villain is an entire government - I didn't give a damn about the Chinese. I wanted to see Frank destroying everyone around him.
But eventually the series got back on track, and he did exactly that, taking down the President and, as promised all along, stepping into office. Season two of HoC was still better than most things on TV, but I expected more.
3. It Follows (2014)
Horror films these days are mostly terrible, all soulless shocks and jumps you already saw coming, married to plots that make absolutely no sense. Probably the worst recent offender was The Woman in Black, which I would recommend only to my dearest enemy. In that context, It Follows is not a bad film, in fact it's a pretty good one. The problem is it's just not scary.
Watching the trailer, I expected something that would creep me out. It Follows does have a certain air of eeriness, but that never translates into scares. If anything it's more of an atmospheric, hipster-ified teenage drama which never really climaxes. As it happens I like atmospheric, hipster-ified teen movies, and I'd definitely recommend It Follows. Just don't expect frights...
...and don't question why she gets into that swimming pool that's surrounded with electrical appliances in the big scene at the end, because there's literally no answer that makes any sense.
2. Pacific Rim (2013)
Where to start with this unholy mess?
Watching Pacific Rim is kind of like going to a party you've been looking forward to for ages. You get there and pour yourself a cup of something, and you notice all the amazing neon lighting, which is awesome, and you wonder if you stepped into the future. You start to meet people. There's an annoying British guy whose accent sounds weirdly fake. You notice that your head is spinning. The music is absurdly loud. Did somebody spike your drink?! Everything is so colourful and you've got a banging headache now, but it won't let up. All of your senses are going wild. That bloody British guy won't shut up. Everything becomes hazy, and you wake up the next day wondering if any of that stuff really happened at all.
Guillermo del Toro threw everything in his kitchen at this film, including the sink. It's fun, it's relentless, it's absurd, it makes absolutely no sense, I hated it, I loved it. But it really would have been easier if I could just have loved it.
1. Salt (2010)
The reigning champion. Nothing else could have won the dubious honour of having such a promising trailer but in reality being such an epic mess.
I don't need to tell you what sucks about Salt, because if you've seen it you'll know, and if you've not, well - ignorance is bliss.
But let's just take this sample piece of dialogue, which somehow Angelina Jolie managed to deliver with a serious face:
"Somebody's going to try and kill the President! You know that! Do something about that!"
The action scenes are thrilling enough, and the entire thing is so ridiculous and so camp you can't help enjoy it, even though you can feel the seconds of your life ticking away. I'm not sure if everybody involved knew this film was so gloriously bad, or if nobody did. I'd have to watch it again to find out, and I really can't do that.
So there you have it. Fingers crossed that A Series of Unfortunate Events transpires to be (A) at least as spine-tinglingly exciting as its real-not-real teaser trailer, and (B) absolutely nothing like Salt.