Best & Worst ’10: Top 10 Horror Movie Trailers of 2010!

There really is no more effective form of movie advertising than the trailer, and putting a good one together probably isn’t as easy as it looks. In a mere two minutes the studio must boil down the film’s basic premise and provide audiences with enough visual and aural flash to compel them to cough up their hard-earned money to see it. With the barrage of movie trailers we see every year very few manage to get it quite right, but those that do are often more compelling than the movies themselves. To commemorate the year in film advertising, B-D’s Chris Eggertsen has sifted through the trailers released in 2010 to put together his list of the ten best – the truly memorable horror spots that made us sit up and take notice.

Black Swan

One of the best movies of the year also boasts one of the best trailers of the year – a spot that expertly approximates the film’s paranoid tone through the use of a subtly menacing score and repeated use of the “sweet girl” dialogue motif featured throughout the movie. The best thing about it is that it leaves viewers puzzled as to what exactly the movie is about, or even what genre it belongs in – not in a way that makes us throw up our hands but that intrigues and compels us to see it. Inserting a brief glimpse of Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ passionate lesbian tryst in there probably didn’t hurt either.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

This teaser trailer for the theatrical remake of the 1973 T.V. movie does exactly what a teaser trailer should do – grant us a brief, intriguing into the world of the film without giving too much away. I like the slow build here – the creepy whispered voices, followed by several seconds of darkness and then BOOM! – that first music cue, jolting you from your seat. If the final flash of a demonic face underneath the little girl’s bedsheets doesn’t make you jump, there may be something medically wrong with you.

Drive Angry

I like the grindhouse-style voiceover work in this trailer, and how it sets up the premise well while also giving action fans everything they like to see: fast cars, hot women, multiple explosions, and a satanic cult for good measure. It effectively plays up the film’s knowingly campy, humorous tone and supernatural elements as well, wisely not presenting it as a straight-ahead action piece (which would’ve made it look far too generic).

Hobo with a Shotgun

The trailer for the real “Hobo with a Shotgun” feature (based on the winning “fake trailer” from Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW Grindhouse Trailer contest in 2007) is hands-down one of the funniest spots of the year. Its retro grindhouse aesthetic, awesome synthesizer score, and Rutger Hauer’s darkly funny opening monologue probably would’ve been enough, but the “capper” here (no pun intended) is the depiction of what’s sure to go down as one of the most creative decapitations in cinema history.

The Human Centipede

Buzz had already started building among those in the horror community, but word only began spreading into the mainstream with the release of this trailer, which gave viewers a horrifying glimpse of the actual “human centipede” to carry around with them for the next few days (or years). IFC wisely didn’t shy away from showing the sick results of Dr. Heiter’s experiment in this spot, putting the central marketing gimmick front and center and pushing the film’s buzz into the stratosphere (over 6 million hits on YouTube and counting).

The Last Exorcism

Of any horror trailer this year, this one was probably the best at communicating an overall sense of dread. What makes it work more than anything, though, is the judicious use of sound effects – the crack of Nell’s bones as her body contorts into unnatural positions, the frenzied, demonic breathing, and a strange sound almost like a rattlesnake as the girl crouches on the floor. There’s also a striking piece of imagery near the end that they wisely singled out for its haunting quality – a figure brandishing a cross, silhouetted by the glow of shooting flames.

The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones trailer expertly balances the black comedy and horror elements of the film in two short minutes and presents its simple premise clearly and effectively. The violent montage in the last quarter of the spot, set to the soft strains of “Love Hurts”, is a dynamic study in contrast that should leave any horror lover salivating to see this Aussie flick – which makes it even more of a shame that there are still no plans to release the film in the U.S.

Night of the Demons (Red Band)

Like the movie itself there’s nothing necessarily artful about it, but the Night of the Demons red band trailer is nevertheless good, juvenile fun that features heaping helpings of blood, boobs, bloody boobs, demons (they crawl on the ceiling!), girl-on-girl kissing, cursing, and a driving “hellbilly”-esque song to drive it all home. What it communicates is this: We’re having a party, and everyone’s invited! Works for me.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Talk about a let-down. This NOES trailer was something fierce: an incredibly effective, masterfully edited two-and-a-half minutes that really gets the blood pumping and introduces the idea of “micro-naps” to keep us intrigued. And then we saw the movie. Maybe it would’ve been better if they’d made the trailer a bland and lifeless affair – at least then it would’ve been truth in advertising.

Predators

Despite Fox not doing much of a marketing push for the movie (which is a shame, because it was actually a worthy sequel) this Predators trailer is nevertheless effective at both setting up the film’s premise and core group of characters while highlighting director Nimrod Antal’s visual flair. It also does a great job of introducing the sheer number of Predators involved this time around – i.e. “this time it’s war” – by showcasing as its centerpiece the image of Adrien Brody being bombarded with those red “triple beam laser sights” made so iconic in the first movie.