We watch a lot of movie trailers here at ScreenCrave, and, as we inch closer to summer with its ever-increasing torrent of new films, we’re seeing more and more previews with each passing day. As we do so, we can’t help but notice some similarities, repetitions, and clichés among them. Here at Trailer Park, we’ll be offering a rundown of those clichés, where they come from, and which trailers share them. This week, we’ll be breaking down: The Thriller Movie Trailer.
Thriller movie trailers are very similar. They start off slow, move into full-on montage mode with explosions, gun fights, sex scenes, car chases, and end with a bang (literally, they end with a gun shot). It can sometimes feel like what we’re watching is something we’ve watched before. We’ve gathered a list of clichés often seen in thriller movie trailers. Check it out.
10. The Facts
Used In: Taken, Man on Fire, Harry Brown
Thrillers love to feed us facts. Consider the Taken trailer below. It gives about six random facts about sex trafficking in Europe, and yet the story is about saving just one of those girls. The problem with facts is that they don’t always go along with the tone of the movie. They’re misleading and take up too much space.
As Seen In: Taken
9. The Black Bag
Used In: Inside Man, Safe House, Argo, Harry Brown, Law Abiding Citizen
We get it. If the movie is about holding a person or people hostage, then a black back over the head is essential. But I’ve noticed that it’s always used in the same manner. A hostage or prisoner walks in with police men on both sides. Then the bag comes off, in slow motion – which leads me to my next point…
As Seen In: Safe House
8. Slow Motion
Used in: From Paris With Love, Gangster Squad, Safe House, Rambo, Gone Baby Gone, Hitman, Shooter, The Departed, Fight Club, Man on Fire, Unbreakable, Collateral, Salt
For a genre that’s known for its speed and quick pace, the trailer always seems to move awfully slow. Explosions, fights, people walking – everything is in slow motion all the time.
As Seen In: Salt
7. The Final Gunshot
Used in: Smokin’ Aces, Hitman, Taken, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Gangster Squad, Drive, Shooter
Thriller trailers like to end with a bang, usually a gun shot. The Gangster Squad trailer ends powerfully, with a low angle shot of Ryan Gosling and his gun. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this a thousand other times.
As Seen In: Gangster Squad
6. It’s Sexy Time
Used in: Once Upon A Time In Mexico, The Departed, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, Abduction, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Gangster Squad, The Losers, The A Team, Disturbia, Hitman, Casino Royale, Max Payne
It never fails. In every single montage (usually filled with loads of violence), there’s one snippet from a sex scene. It just seems so random that there be only one bit that focuses on “love” while everything else is about violence.
As Seen In: The Departed
5. Explosions, Explosions, Explosions
Used In: Man On Fire, Deja Vu, Michael Clayton, Hitman, Death Proof, Valkyrie, Rambo, Law Abiding Citizen, Harry Brown, Gangster Squad, Fight Club
Thrillers seem to be defined by numerous Michael Bay-type explosions. The problem is that they serve no real purpose. Every second that’s spent blowing something up, is a second away from the story. And then we wonder why thrillers don’t get nominated for Oscars.
As Heard In: Law Abiding Citizen
4. Black And White
Used In: Man on Fire, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Casino Royale, Argo, Abduction
What’s the point of switching to black and white? This isn’t The Artist. Man on Fire is a very entertaining movie, but the trailer is absolutely horrible. There are so many freeze frames and black and white shots that the story is barely understandable.
As Seen In: Man on Fire
3. Rap Music
Used In: Gangster Squad, Safe House, Lakeview Terrace, Smokin’ Aces, Limitless, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Thrillers try to sell themselves as “badass”. That’s why they’re packed with blasts, guns, cars and half-naked women. Rap music is also in the mix. It sells a certain “attitude” that other music just doesn’t. Then again, when you throw a bunch of images over a rap song, the trailer feels lazy and clichéd.
As Seen In: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
2. Multiple Freeze Frames
Used In: Man on Fire, The Losers, The Next Three Days, Argo, Abduction, Death Proof, Hitman, Shooter, Gangster Squad
Freeze frames are very common. They’re used in all types of movie trailers, especially thriller ones. And they do add some drama to the trailer. The problem is when there’s multiple snapshots that it makes the trailer feel more like a slideshow.
As Seen In: Argo
1. Broken Windows
Used In: Edge of Darkness, Gangster Squad, Argo, Harry Brown, Taken, Abduction, Shooter, Body of Lies, Fargo, Max Payne
There might not be car chases. There might not be a rap song by Jay-Z. There might not even be explosions. But by God, there will be shattered windows. Always, always and always.
As Seen In: Abduction
What are some of the clichés you see? What do you think of this list? Does it cover everything?