The Art of the Trailer: The Human Centipede

Have to give credit to Cinemablend for introducing me to this trailer. Imagine a horror film with a reputation so ghastly that people recoil from the mention of it. Now imagine a horror film with a concept so absurd that its mere name has been turned into tongue-in-cheek craft projects and a natural punchline. Now imagine those two things happening at the same time with one film.

The Human Centipede: The First Sequence is a strange film. Roger Ebert called it unreviewable and I eventually agreed, opting to mock the safe part of the film to avoid discussing the more extreme elements. It is a gross-out picture that hides the gross stuff behind copious bandages and clever camera shots. It's a comedy without a punchline and a suspense film without a clear hero.

Tom Six has promised to turn the first film into a trilogy. This is the first trailer for The Full Sequence. And guess what? It's totally safe for work. It's negative press quotes played over people watching the film in the back of a van.

Now that's a good trailer. Many films have done the audience reaction trailer before. Paranormal Activity used it to trick audiences into thinking it was a worthwhile film. Saw 3D and My Bloody Valentine 3D used it in a cheeky way to play up the campy fun of the 3D technology. It's an old marketing technique that is usually hiding something bad.

I'm not saying The Human Centipede 2: The Full Sequence is going to be a cinematic masterpiece for the ages. I'm saying this trailer is the perfect way to play up audience expectations. When your legacy is already being the horror film that people refuse to see out of principle, you might as well play into it. This trailer does exactly that.

What you have are images of people reacting to the film. These reactions are what you would expect people to have to the concept of the film. You are talking about creating a human feeding machine, essentially. That's disgusting. People are screaming, crying, covering their eyes, and throwing up. This, combined with the negative quotes that essentially say "don't see this film ever," will make people curious about the film. It might not sell tickets to casual film fans, but it will draw in a few extreme horror fans who passed on the original.

This trailer is one of the best I've seen for this kind of horror film. I'm not a big gore person so I was relieved to see The Human Centipede wasn't nearly as disgusting as I had been warned. The fact that Tom Six has perpetuated this belief that the film is so extreme you will physically recoil from it is brilliant branding. This trailer is just the next great step.

The previous great step? This teaser that got the fanboys riled up that it showed no footage. Some naughty words and dried blood, but no vulgarity or graphic content (or even visual connected to the film).

Gotta love a director who is willing to toy with his fans. Why deliver what they want when you can force them to want more? That's what a good trailer should do.

Anyone joining me for the sequel? Sound off.

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