David Cronenberg’s newest film has a trailer and a premiere now. Maps to the Stars will debut in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this May. The trailer (subtitled in French) is…something else.
Hey guys. Remember when I said The Purge sequel would be amazing if it was kind of an anthology film looking at different groups of people trying to survive the night? I got dangerously close to the plot of the film.
Per the new trailer, a man decides to participate in the annual Purge to avenge the death of someone in his family. By chance, he encounters two young women who failed to protect themselves in a hotel room from the lawless festivities. And the trailer doesn’t show a connection between that new plot and the original focus on the couple whose car runs out of gas while racing home to avoid the Purge. There are also recurring one-night criminals all over the place in the new trailer.
Though I was left a little cold by The Purge, I applauded the concept for trying to do something new with the home invasion horror genre. In broad strokes, all laws are suspended for 12 hours every year to better regulate crime in America. The Purge gets out so much aggression with a free pass on murder and mayhem that the rest of the year goes by pretty smooth. The original film focused on one family trying to keep the house barred up against young adults behaving badly.
The Purge: Anarchy, now on its third title after The Sequel to The Purge and The Purge II, seems to be aiming for a more exciting concept. Forget the poor little rich people with the state of the art security systems. What happens to the everyday citizens who don’t get off the streets in time to seek refuge from The Purge?
The year is 1993. Roger Corman, one of the most prolific producer/directors of all time, is overseeing the production of The Fantastic Four film for Constantin Film. They have less than a month and only $1.5 million to bring the story of four scientists turned superheroes by space travel to life. A release date is announced for Labor Day that year, then pushed back to January 1994. Then, nothing. The film never comes out. The rights to the Fantastic Four property stay with Constantin Film and the film is never even completed.
This might sound like the premise of a strange Hollywood comedy, but it really happened. Roger Corman did oversee the production of the first ever Fantastic Four film and it never came out. The whole thing was a twisted game of contracts to hold onto adaptation rights and is now one of the most notorious dirty film business stories to come out of Hollywood (well, without a murder or other such violent crime against anyone).
The first US trailer for Rust & Bone has arrived.
It looks every bit as beautiful as I imagined. Jacques Audiard (Un Prophete, The Beat that My Heart Skipped) was the perfect choice to adapt and direct this film. The source story by Craig Davidson is a romance with a lot of edge. It’s violent, it’s dark, and it’s quite twisted. Audiard is a master at keeping conflicting emotions and tones in balance.
I see one problem coming out of this trailer for a wide viewing audience. I don’t think this dreamy romance is clean enough to sell as heartwarming, moving, or romantic. A street fighter falls in love with a whale trainer who suffers a career ending injury. That’s not exactly boy meets girl, boy overcomes obstacle to achieve happily ever after territory. It’s melancholy and bloody.
At least the trailer reveals that much. There is no hiding the brutality of the fights here. I know the French trailer actually showed the whale attack in more detail than the US trailer, but the US trailer shows the aftermath more clearly.
It’ll be interesting to see how the poster design is handled. The French poster focuses on the two leads, but it’s not exactly indicating a fairy tale romance. Marion Cotillard’s Stephanie looks quite sad. Matthias Schoenaerts’ Alain is a bit more hopeful, though the crop right down the front of his face almost brings out a sort of unexpected pain.
The US limited release is slated for 16 November. What? Did you expect a US distributor to go wide with a foreign language film starring a well known Academy Award winner and directed by one of the most acclaimed modern directors? Of course not. It’s not in English.
Will you be catching Rust & Bone as soon as it reaches a theater near you? Sound off below with your thoughts on the trailer.
Anthology horror should be a much bigger influence on the American film industry than it is. You have a form that allows you to tell a few complete stories in the same running time as one feature length film. If people are turned off by the first story in an anthology, there’s a chance they might fall for the second, third, fourth, or fifth (or even the framing device or an intermediary quick cut gag). It should be a crowd pleasing form that brings some kind of satisfaction for a lower budget.
Instead, it’s a form that struggles to find its footing in America. The last time we regularly received wide releases of anthology horror was the 1980s (Creepshow, The Twilight Zone, Heavy Metal, etc.). Even then, it was falling out of favor. Studios like Amicus (Torture Garden, Asylum, Monster Club) made their big money on star-studded anthology horror. The box office returns matter, obviously, but the lower budgeted format–each big actor only needs to be there for a fraction of the shoot, the technical demands are smaller as each story can only have a few locations, a single crew and creative team for multiple stories, etc.–would mean that an anthology film doesn’t need to sell as many tickets to recoup. And if the one segment blows up, more people will pay to see all the other stories just for that one moment of brilliance.
Leave it to the incomparable Alamo Drafthouse to take a chance on anthology horror again. The company, championed for its zero tolerance cellphone and public disturbance policy in its expanding chain of theaters, launched Drafthouse Films as a nationwide distributor for more unusual productions.
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world.
Is it any surprise, then, that The ABCs of Death would be championed for a nationwide release on 3 November? The anthology film got a lot of press when it announced its concept and a contribution contest to go with it. 26 directors would direct 26 short films about death under the structure of the alphabet. The letter T comes from amateur submissions sent in from all around the world. YouTube animated gore phenom Lee Hardcastle took the prize with “T is for Toilet.”
Obviously, The ABCs of Death will be gory. They hired genre directors to do shorts about death. There will be blood, guts, and general mayhem. The trailer promises just that. It’s quite exciting if a bit heavy handed with the kill scenes. I mean, you have 26 to choose from so they can’t all be spoiled. I would have gone with just a little more restraint on the blood factor.
The trailer also introduces a new aspect of the anthology horror’s concept. Fans can vote at the official website for the best entry. Suddenly, a collaborative labor of love has become a competition for top death. It’s an odd choice, but one that could raise the profile of the post-Halloween fall horror release.
What do you think? Will you be seeing The ABCs of Death in theaters? Sound off below. Love to hear from you.
Last year, American Horror Story struck gold with a brilliant viral marketing campaign. A gorgeous mansion, decked out in red, was disturbed by the presence of a mysterious figure in a black rubber suit. Sometimes, it was a man; other times, a pregnant woman. And still other times it played the cello violently while characters were engulfed in flame. I was hooked before the first episode aired.
This season, FX is going for viral gold again and it’s a mixed bag. Since the gimp suit and fire played such a large role in season 1, horror and TV sites alike are obsessively posting every video they can find. The problem is that the visual just isn’t as compelling.
Gone are the almost art deco meets noir tones of the season 1 promos. Their replacement is a milky hodge podge of ghostly cliches set in a mental hospital. Yes, I’m curious to know what, exactly, is going on in the facility, but seeing a nun drop meat in the forest or a poor looking spiderwalk (but really, even the original spiderwalk looked terrible) under a stairwell isn’t drawing me in.
Part of this is an intentional device. The religious asylum is most likely going to be a period story to allow for maximum shock value. Furthermore, the inclusion of religion at all allows for a number of possibilities: cult, sisters of satan, possession, Antichrist, hellholes, conspiracy. The story isn’t going to be as clear cut as the tragic haunting of season 1. Religious horror is, at its best, ambiguous and (dare I say?) offensive. It’s meant to be shocking because you’re suggesting that a belief structure could be harmful or dangerous. It’s meant to be ambiguous because you cannot prove faith. If you could, it would be science.
Even still, I think the haze is a step too far. Whether it’s a literal manifestation of doubt is irrelevant. If the promos don’t pop, they’re not going to grab big ratings like the first season.
Certain elements are coming through as clear themes. This is going to be a chamber play/upstairs & downstairs drama. The nuns are surrounding the patients, but the patients are isolated from the nuns. It could be a physical separation–the alcoves, the bath, the padded rooms and straight jackets–or a psychological one–trapped in a rose, drowning in purity, flipped upside down. The promos are trying to get us to think about opposing forces and the ways in which we choose to focus on ourselves.
If I have to hazard a guess, I think the Asylum is a facility that houses genuinely ill people and some of society’s undesirables. The child’s jacket and young adults presented in the promos so far lead me to believe that some of these people might be there for upsetting their families. Could their be a pregnant teen on vacation until the baby can be left with the nuns? A young man who needs an attitude adjustment so he’s punished with a trip the asylum? Rebellious heirs who need to be knocked down a few pegs? It would be another way to draw the line between the people running the facility and the people visiting and introduce some unique power struggles.
Let me put it another way. There is no way Ryan Murphy is going to do 13 episodes of straight forward nuns taking care of actual mental health patients. There will be twists. I will be shocked if a man this obsessed with camp does not do a storyline about satan pursuing a young vibrant nun. There has to be at least one patient who should not be in the facility. There has to be at least one child living there because they were abandoned. Suicide? Fights? Failed escapes? Actual dangers outside of the walls to keep patients in line? All strong possibilities.
I only wish the promos for Season 2 were a bit bolder in their look. They’re a little to clinical and clean for a season subtitled Asylum. I have high hopes for the environment in the context of American horror and eagerly await the season premiere.
What about you? Any idea what’s happening in the promos? Or why the promos are faded visions of the facility? Sound off below. Love to hear from you.
A new David Cronenberg film is always an event. Even if it winds up being a comparatively tame affair (A Dangerous Method would have been daring if made by another director), there’s always something interesting to latch onto and think about for a long time afterwards. I still have random flashes of scenes of Eastern Promises pop into my head even though I was a bit underwhelmed when it was released.
Cosmopolis, the senior Cronenberg’s new film, opened to mixed reviews at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The main complaint seems to be an acting/dialogue conceit that is entirely hit or miss. The entire story, a sort of modern day odyssey about a young billionaire journeying across NYC for a haircut, is designed with a level of artifice in mind. Human speech is labored and quite elaborate and the slow moving plot will most likely alienate some viewers.
Still, it’s a new Cronenberg, and the trailer promises a return to his darker body horror roots. Come for the all star cast, stay for the shock of what Robert Pattinson starts doing with a handgun.
Not only has David’s son Brandon entered the filmmaking arena, he debuted his first feature at the Cannes Film Festival. Sure, he wasn’t up for the big awards, but his film was screening in the same venue as his father. You don’t earn that privilege on name recognition alone.
Early press suggests that Brandon Cronenberg is exploring the same body horror territory of his father in new, sick, and exciting ways. The conceit of Antiviral is a future world so obsessed with celebrity that people will pay top dollar to acquire a celebrity illness for their own discomfort. Obsession trumps safety as agents steal blood samples to sell for dangerous dispensation.
In other words, there is a new Cronenberg in town insisting on your psychological discomfort, only this time around, the violence is real. The first trailer, released yesterday, is very disturbing. It’s borderline NSFW and as thrilling as can be.
I’m not predicting Cosmopolis or Antiviral will be box office sensations. The subjects are too off-putting to crossover to mainstream success. What I am suggesting is that it’s nice to see stylish directors go after the mind through very physical films. These two pictures look adventurous and uncomfortable in the best ways possible.
Cosmopolis opens in limited release next Friday, 17 August. Antiviral will come later, as there is no official release date yet. I think the online trailer was a way to gauge interest and (surprise, surprise) film blogs have been going nuts over the younger Cronenberg’s debut.
What about you? Plan on seeing Cosmopolis or Antiviral? I’m down for both, but I’d be lying if I said I was more excited for Antiviral. Sound off with your own thoughts below.