Yes, trailers are just marketing material, and we’re not a BFD Advertising and Design class. But as any studio will tell you, a well-crafted trailer that builds hype and excitement for a movie can be a make-or-break part of the puzzle that creates much-needed anticipation and even word of mouth. Sure, some trailers are just greatest hits of the movie, spoil or give too much away, or just a go-through-the-motions sizzle reel that can contain the moments but doesn’t turn that corner into activation: to compel that viewer to think, “Oh my god, I MUST see this movie.”
But some are artful, clever, entertaining, thrilling, and even adrenaline-pumping when they are at their best, sometimes sustaining an audience’s anticipation for a movie for months on end. The right combination of teaser and trailer can really do it, too (or overdo it if you seem to have a desperate final trailer and or you’ve just released too many trailers, period).
Regardless, it’s easy to dismiss trailers are just promotional items, but true believers of movies know they can be crucial tools, excitement launching pads, expectancy harvesters, and hopefulness catalysts that make Johnny Q realize they are going to see this movie by hook or by crook in theaters. And hell, in some cases, some are so good that they can resemble something close to the art itself. The hype can be real, right? OK, rambling aside, here’s our favorite trailers of 2023.
25. “Suitable Flesh”
It’s hard to describe Joe Lynch’s film, “Suitable Flesh,” without it sounding a bit crazy. The film mixes classic ’80s/’90s erotic thrillers with H.P. Lovecraft through the lens of an early Stuart Gordon horror. So, to figure out a way to market this with a simple trailer just wouldn’t cut it. What the studio does instead is embrace the sax you might hear in one of those erotic thrillers, add some nostalgic voiceover (itself manically switching between deep male and sultry female tones), and make it seem like Lynch somehow dusted off a film from 35 years ago to showcase today. While the film isn’t perfect, this trailer perfectly sums up the film and is one of the best of the year.
24. “The Toxic Avenger”
Why on Earth would Legendary (the studio behind “Dune“) or any studio, for that matter, think it’s a good idea to remake the Troma classic, “The Toxic Avenger,” in 2023? The original is a film that literally has a scene where racist, drunk people run over kids with a car as a form of a game. Alas, we’re so glad the studio decided to do it, and Macon Blair was hired on to write and direct. And if the short teaser is any indication, the remake has somehow kept the punk rock, subversive nature of the original while also featuring Peter Dinklage. Best of all, this trailer sells all of this without actually showing Toxie. Bravo!
23. “Talk To Me”
The way that hand cracks into the A24 trailer is both chilling and clever. From directors Danny and Michael Philippou comes “Talk To Me,” a terrifying horror about connecting with the dead. But this group of teens soon came to understand messing with things you don’t fully understand can have nightmarish consequences. In “Talk To Me,” the thrilling escape, hook, and obsession with conjuring spirits using an embalmed hand soon comes with the heaviest of prices and is terrifying beyond words when its grip just won’t let you go.
“NFI, not f*cking invited.” That’s the opening line about an outsider (Barry Keoghan) at an affluent prep school who gets invited into a world of privilege that’s beyond anything he’s witnessed before. A psychological black comedy written and directed by Academy Award winner Emerald Fennell, what he finds in this posh, eccentric family’s estate is a world of devilish hedonism that never want him to leave, escape, and be consumed forever in this madness. It looks like an orgiastic bacchanalia of sex, drugs, intrigue
“It’s poetry, art, and math, all working in magical synchronicity; it’s the perfect game.” While well reviewed with an 82% Rotten Tomatoes score, Apple TV+’s “Tetris” movie failed to make much of a cultural dent despite the wild, true-life story behind the creation of this iconic video game. That’s a shame because this trailer, at least starring Taron Egerton as the video game designer and entrepreneur who secured the global rights to the Russian-made Tetris game, is just utterly dynamic, thrilling, and full of nervous tension. And simply amazing kudos for the use of Europe’s bombastic “The Final Countdown” song and the way its orchestra-sized to really elevate the soaring drama of this super-compelling spot.