A film’s poster (also known as a one-sheet) is often the first impression we get of a movie, making it an incredibly important tool in building advance buzz. The job of these posters is two-fold: a) to catch our attention and get us interested in learning more about the film in question; and b) to give us at least a basic sense of what the film is about. While multiplexes are littered with generic one-sheets that might as well have been spit out by a computer, there are always a select few that manage to get it right, and like years past B-D has compiled a list of the best from the past year. Whether the films turned out to be worthy of the artistry that went into marketing them is another question entirely, which just goes to show that sometimes even the worst movies are backed by a savvy marketing team, whose job it to sell the product – no matter how sub-par (or downright awful) that product may be.
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Posters listed in no particular order
While the domestic Black Swan one-sheets are pretty decent, there’s just no topping the illustrated international versions. These gorgeous creations don’t tell us much about the movie, but then they don’t really have to – their artful compositions, utilizing a simple palette of red, white, and black, are so eye-catching they’re bound to pique one’s curiosity. While it’s hard to choose a favorite, this one edges out the others if only for the way it blends the forms of dancer and swan so beautifully. Quite reminiscent of an old Giallo poster, no?
In case you haven’t read the reviews, you should know that Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a broad horror-comedy featuring lots of gore. Not that you need me to tell you that, considering the poster basically says it all. Exhibit A: The gruesome sight of a man’s torso-less body being dragged through the dirt (there’s the gore). Exhibit B: The tagline – “This Year Spring Break Is Cut Short!” (there’s the comedy). In other words, if you end up buying a ticket to this bad boy based solely on the poster art, you probably won’t be disappointed.
Believe it or not, Repo Men actually came out, though you wouldn’t know it based on the rather scant marketing campaign. But if you managed to catch one of these striking one sheets featuring full-color artificial body parts against X-ray images of human skeletons – each part with its respective price tag attached – they doubtless managed to catch your attention. Unfortunately for those involved, they didn’t do anything to boost the film’s dismal box-office take.
The Last Exorcism marketing team wisely used the disorienting sight of Ashley Bell’s possessed (?) character bent backwards at an unnatural angle to create a shiver-worthy poster that has in some ways already become iconic. The simple one-sheet, rendered in black and white and with the lighting creating a spooky shadow effect on the wall behind her, creates an unmistakable atmosphere of dread and unease, while the small hanging cross and simple tagline (“Believe In Him”) add just enough creep-factor without overpowering the stunning central image.
This series of attention-drawing, “ripped-from-the-grindhouse” Machete one-sheets put the focus on the film’s large, eclectic cast of supporting characters, a shrewd choice considering star Danny Trejo’s rather limited box-office appeal and the fact that the film suffered from a rather limited central concept. Featuring De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, etc. in full kick-ass mode – each holding their weapon(s) of choice – and with their names prominently displayed was an attempt to pull in a multitude of different demographics, and while it probably didn’t work as well as the studio wanted (the film made a very modest $36 million worldwide) it was certainly a valiant attempt.
This “There’s Something In The Water” Piranha one-sheet was great at conveying the film’s gratuitous mixture of oiled-up party girls and flesh-chomping killer fish action, with its Jaws-like visual of an attractive sorority chick floating on a raft and a truly formidable school of razor-toothed piranha swimming in the water just below her. The poster also effectively represented the film’s 3-D aesthetic by giving the illusion of depth, with its central image of open-mouthed piranha swimming directly at us.
While the “elevator button” Devil one-sheet was also very good, this one, featuring an orange light in the shape of an upside-down cross emanating from between the cracks in the elevator doors, summed up the core idea behind the movie in striking and succinct fashion. The only downside is the “From the Mind of M. Night Shyamalan” wording placed directly beneath the title. Impressed with ourselves much?
As the title indicates and the impressive one-sheet bears out, Buried takes place entirely inside a coffin containing a man (Ryan Reynolds) who has been buried alive. It’s a horrifically claustrophobic premise expertly conveyed in the poster, which shows us the inside of the casket containing Reynolds – lit up by the orange glow of a flashlight – at the very bottom and above it mounds…and mounds…of dark earth. If that weren’t enough to spell it out for us, the poster also gives us the basic premise in five short lines of white text that lead down, and down, into Reynolds’ underground tomb.
While opinions on the films themselves are wildly divergent, even a cynic like me can’t deny the genius of the Saw one-sheets, and the poster for Saw 3D is no exception. This one, featuring a giant Jigsaw (aka John Kramer) being constructed by an assortment of ominous machinery, is most definitely the standout of the bunch from the latest (last?) sequel. The most effective thing about it is its creation of a richly imagined visual world; just when you think you’ve taken it all in, a new detail emerges from the gloomy landscape of coal-spewing smokestacks and sizzling orange sparks.
Talk about eye-catching – this Let Me In poster, featuring a nearly all-white Abby curled into a fetal position against a red background, uses its simple three-color scheme to great advantage. It may not spell out the film’s premise satisfactorily for those unfamiliar with the original, but the striking imagery – along with the simple tagline “Evil Dies. Abby Doesn’t.” – has an appealing air of mystery about it that more than makes up for the lack of an explanation.
This oddly beautiful Monsters one-sheet, featuring an up-close shot of star Whitney Able in a gas mask (there’s just something creepy about them, isn’t there?), has an almost documentary-style feel that well approximates the experience of watching the movie itself. Unlike some of the trailers it also doesn’t oversell the alien creatures (which are featured only sparingly in the actual movie), instead giving us merely a small, captivating glimpse of black, swirling tentacles reflected in one of the mask’s eyepieces.
As we said in our official review, Skyline the movie was just “meh”, but this stunning one-sheet is anything but. True to the film’s tentpole aspirations, the poster features the “money shot” of thousands of people being sucked up into the giant blue maw of an alien spacecraft, with Eric Balfour and Donald Faison helplessly watching from the rooftop of an L.A. highrise. It’s the visual that sold us in the film’s teaser trailer and which made the resulting film feel all the more disappointing, but nevertheless it was a smart choice to feature it on the posters.
This Drive Angry one-sheet gets right to the point: if you like fast cars, faster bullets, and hot, sexy women, you’re gonna like our movie. Oh, and it was actually “shot in” 3-D as opposed to being post-converted. How do we know that? Because it proudly says so just below the title. Perhaps the best thing about this poster, though, is that it manages to convey a sense of forward momentum and balls-to-the-wall action within a single, static image. Putting living Barbie doll Amber Heard front-and-center probably doesn’t hurt with luring in the film’s target demographic (namely, young straight males) either.
What can you really say about this one? All we’re given is a nice big close-up shot of the iconic Ghostface mask, and yet somehow that’s enough. We also get a hint of what to expect – or rather what not to expect – with the ingeniously simple tagline “New Decade. New Rules.” Bring it on!
It’s probably gonna suck (just my own bias against any film produced by Screen Gems), but the theatrical poster for The Roommate, outside of that generic title, actually sells the project pretty well. In short: this is a one-sheet you look at and instantly know what the movie is. The premise is spelled out clearly and succinctly in three short sentences, and the ominous backdrop and central imagery combine to both illustrate the concept and clue us in to the film’s darker tone (i.e. this is not going to be a light and fluffy college-set comedy). I wouldn’t say I’m personally sold, but this should have the desired effect on the target demographic. I only question why they’re not releasing this in August, when a whole new crop of college freshmen will be facing the possibility of a psycho roomie for the first time?
How to market one of the most disgusting films ever made? IFC cracked the code with this green-hued Human Centipede poster, which hints at the movie’s horrific premise in a pretty ingenious way. Kudos too for the Clive Barker-esque “Their Flesh Is His Fantasy” tagline, and also for incorporating Six’s “100% Medically Accurate” claim into the mix.
This one-sheet for the darkly comedic Greek horror film Dogtooth uses a powerful, eye-catching close-up of one of the lead actresses with bloodstains around her mouth to suggest horrible things happening just off-screen. Is this woman a cannibal? A vampire? Sometimes not telling is the most powerful way to advertise a movie, particularly one as idiosyncratic and hard to define as this one.
Yes, Hayden Christensen is in it (snooze), but there’s no doubt this Vanishing on 7th Street poster is eye-catching and gives you a good sense of what to expect from the latest Brad Anderson flick. I love the way the background tavern, with its red neon sign and warm orange lights, is framed by the penetrating darkness of the alleyway that seems to be moving in from all sides, ready to consume the central figure. The spidery, creeping hands reaching from some unseen place out of frame complete the stunning visual palette, along with a tagline – “Stay in the Light” – that sufficiently sums up the film’s premise in just four simple words. In short, this is the way to sell a movie.