Movie commercials offer us a great service; they not only show us which upcoming movies look good, but also which ones to avoid. And if one looks closely, they often reveal more than intended about the film in question. In honor of this profound art, I give you TRAILER TRACKS, an examination of upcoming movie commercials: What they say, what they don’t say, and what they say on accident about the product being sold to you, the excited chump.
The Helpers (Dir. Chris Stokes)
If you were looking for a half-assed iterations of the tired Found Footage genre and the tired Torture Porn genre only with really lame, pedestrian looking villains, you came to the right place. This movie trailer doesn’t just copy genres; it gets steals with specifics, using a clear Sheri Moon Zombie stand-in as well as Platinum Dunes’ dusty visual aesthetic, not to mention the crowbar bit at the end which totally cops from the Friday the 13th remake. This is one derivative movie.
A bunch of young folk are on their way to Las Vegas (even if you don’t speak English or know anything about America, you should know movie characters are going to Vegas if they suddenly start cheering and woo-ing in a moving vehicle, and they are not children). The grim and gritty title card tells us there are seven of them — a blonde couple, a dark-haired couple, a black couple, and an annoying nerd (found-footage cameraman). They, uh, don’t make it to Vegas. Vegas, uh, does not miss them.
Whether by hick trap or legit accident, the Vegasmobile gets a flat tire, and the seven pretty young people seek aid from the closest car garage/hotel/karaoke bar they can find. Things seem nice at first. The establishment is filled with a bunch of helpful and interesting looking Hipster Hicks who would be played by Jeremy Davies and John Hawks and Garret Dillahunt if this movie really were made by Platinum Dunes. Everyone gets drunk and sings “I Will Survive” and only the chorus of TLC’s “Waterfalls” until it gets late, at which time they all go to hotel rooms.
Unfortunately, the hotel rooms appear to be high tech kill boxes. Even more unfortunately, they all have security cameras, through which The Helpers will apparently force us to watch most of the good stuff (kind of reminiscent of Cabin in the Woods). Given that there are only seven protagonists (that we know of) and we witness them in various forms of dead, we can consider this a pretty spoiler-filled trailer. We know something really awful and wet-sounding happens to the dark-haired girl while her boyfriend watches. The black lady dies in a bathtub, and her boyfriend dies sitting in a chair right next to her. We even see the blonde girl get killed in the face with a crowbar (although, just like the Friday the 13th moment The Helpers is lifting here, this could ultimately be a fakeout).
But we don’t see the nerd, which means something special must happen to him. He may provide the film with its shocking first death. Or he may hobble along helping the final girl along with his superior nerd knowledge until he ultimately sacrifices himself. Or he may himself be the final girl and live all the way to the end. It’s impossible to say from the trailer. (Please God, let it be option number one.)
Despite giving so much away, the third act of this film remains mysterious. Depending on whether this is an 80 minute horror film or a 100 minute horror film, we might get stuck learning a bit of the killers’ backstory — the concept of being “Helpers” and how they came up with it. We do know some wrinkle is coming because we hear one of the three females in the group place a call to 911. The question is whether this phone call arrives early or late in the film and if it actually matters.
In other promotional materials, the film purports to have been based on a true story, so the climax may be more simple than most horror fans are looking for. Then again, some pretty crazy horror films have supposedly been based on true stories as well, and that didn’t stop them from going nuts when the time came. What I’m saying is, I doubt this one will end with all the Hipster Hicks getting arrested or anything boring like that, but it’s something to keep in mind when setting your own expectations.
Actually, I can see this film’s ending a mile away. After making that 911 call, the lone survivor girl will be saved by these gals:
The Helpers will fight The Help. Personally, I don’t think The Helpers stand a chance. They all look like vegetarians.
This could be a decent entry in the Torture Porn category, since the kills appear halfway intriguing. The found footage aspect, however, looks tacked on and stupid, and the only hope I can derive from it is an outside chance that it’s being meta, which is really just a different flavor of annoying.
My main fear is that the awful song featured over and over again in this trailer will be as omnipresent in the film. If so, The Helpers might achieve a nearly 3D representation of audience torture to match the terror onscreen. The film will be released “Soon,” so it won’t be much longer before we can all see for ourselves. Personally, I’m dying to know what’s going on with all those ropes, that bucket, and the bathtub.
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