Dead Again – Analysis of the trailer

A trailer is used to create tension and anticipation to encourage people to see the film. In cinemas it is common to have several trailers before the film begins. A trailer contains a selection of scenes designed to make the person want to know what happens.

In the Dead Again trailer, the first shot we see is the standard logo of the producing company, United International Pictures. This then fades into the Paramount logo.

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After this has faded to black there is a steady drum beat that reminds the viewer of a heart beat. We then hear a husky, slightly sinister sounding male voice saying “I loved my wife…” he exhales heavily and carries on “Forever.” This is replaced by an old-looking monochrome scene of a scruffy man who says “But you still killed her – didn’t you?” The viewer feels nervous and curious as another figure steps forward from the shadows, where they have been standing, unnoticed.

The trailer cuts to a white screen with a black point, similar to the blade of a knife or scissors. The camera pans out to reveal the point is merely from a heading of a newspaper and specifically, the ‘M’ in the word “Murder.”

The next scene is of Emma Thompson in bed. She suddenly jumps up and screams. In the background we can hear a ferocious storm, the traditional weather for horror to take place in movies. We see a lot of close ups on the characters faces, demonstrating the different emotions they are feeling, and the viewer begins to share those feelings. The cuts become rapid, with seconds to glance at each image as it flashes across the screen. A lot of suspense and tension is created as the viewer tries to make sense of the colours on the screen. We hear the authority of a male voice-over, “The more she trusts him – the more she fears him.” This statement confuses the viewer even further, as it is a strong oxymoron and uses repetition.

Film Noir is used extensively in this trailer to create the impression of being in the past. Newspaper headlines are frequently used to display the plot in an interesting way. Robin Williams stars in several of the scenes in the trailer as he is a famous actor and many people would go and see a film because he was in it. It is a clever ploy by the director to help sell the film, when in fact, Robin Williams has only a small cameo role. The trailer continues to use Film Noir as it cuts between the dark, gloomy scenes from the past and the more colourful, present day scenes.

We see the victim lying in bed, vulnerable and helpless as a shadowy character towers above her, brandishing a pair of scissors. The viewer’s heart rate rises as the trailer again speeds up, with rapid music and special effects. Tension and excitement is created as the drum beat in the background also quickens. Again there are cuts between the present and past scenes, and the action on screen increases with people running and shouting.

The next scene uses a method used before in the trailer; we see a white blade which slashes back to show the word ‘Convicted’. The use of sound as it swipes is very effective as they chose to use a slashing sound.

Emma Thompson worriedly explains that “He really wants to see me” as she taps rapidly on a telephone. She is quite clearly being followed, as there is an image of a person in the background behind the window, trying to reach her.

We see a lift shaft rising, then get an extreme close up of a hand. The person is obviously tense as the knuckles are white. They pull the door of the lift open and Emma Thompson is there, looking very worried and startled to see the person.

After several cuts between modern and past scenes again we see a prison, the camera slides past the cells and we hear the angry shouts and see the rattling of bars by the distressed inmates. We see the lower torso, lower arms and upper legs of a figure as he passes, he has a pair of scissors in his hand. The viewer immediately comes to the conclusion that this is the murderer. Although we cannot see all of him, he appears to be moving very rapidly, and with intent. Someone then shouts “Stop him!” and we have a close up of his face. A pair of scissors is seen hurled into the air in front of a completely dark background.

The trailer is almost over, and we see a shadow of scissors used as a weapon, building up the tension. Emma falls onto a table and the legs of it are scissors. There is a large smash as the glass shatters.

We have another Film Noir cut before a low angled shot of the floor, with the broken glass. A pair of scissors slides towards Emma’s face. Tension is created when the scissors reach Emma’s face and the screen turns black. A face appears and the trailer finishes with him saying slowly “This is all far from over.”

The trailer from Dead Again uses many different techniques to capture the attention of the audience, including Film Noir, fast cuts, dramatic music and sound effects. Tension is built by the cuts between the modern day and past scenes. The trailer works by manipulating the viewer’s emotions, so that they empathise with the characters.