Last article in our 7 week series on Psychological Thrillers.
The most successful Print & Advertising (or P&A) for the psychological thriller genre always aims to have an emotional impact on the largest audience. P&A or Print and advertising is usually hired by the studio to develop campaigns along side the films development. To achieve this success, these marketing or advertising agents must collaborate with filmmakers to maximize the disturbing sociological implications of the plot while accomplishing their promotional effort. For anyone who wonders how P&A is paid for or where it stems from here is a short explanation from SoCalScribe a blog member of the entertainment blog Done Deal Professional
“P&A is not part of the production budget. The production budget will
often have money allotted for dailies, the answer print, etc.,. but
P&A – for all intents and purposes – is a distribution expense, not a
production expense (and therefore not a part of the production
Though all implications of all films aren’t equally disturbing,
content complexity usually contributes to how engaging the content is.
Why was that statement important, it underlines how important content
is and equally how knowledgeable the P&A must be?
As Ultimate Listverve states the psychological thriller works on a few levels.
“Nothing can beat the heart racing as you anticipate the next move and
better yet, these films don’t need to be filled with gore and blood to
shock and frighten. These are films that involve the brain – not just
That said: one should understand that to participate in the publicity
strategy game narrative smarts are an absolute necessity. In some
cases they should rival the directors.
As Hitchcock demonstrates with most of his films, a fine balance of
elements is necessary. Yet what may be disturbing (to some) are the
way social standards, values and beliefs may have to be sacrificed to
motivate anticipation and surprise. In my opinion this is how the
thrill is achieved.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho depends on three disturbances. The
audience has to be appalled by a serial killing Momma’s boy, has to be
scared by a social isolation of a secluded motel, and must be
horrified by the mutilation of a beautiful women.
Withholding only a small amount of this from the audience, the P&A
introduces just enough of this content to attract audiences (the
prey). Once the audience arrives, it becomes apparent who the real
predator is, (the film) which will now deliver it’s surprise ending.
Martin Scorsese uses the smoke at beginning of the trailer to create a
mystical aura of mystery before breaking a few social taboos of his
own. Using Travis Bickle’s unbalanced paranoia, he distresses using
other means. He does this by means of the introduction of pedophilic
desire represented by Jodie Foster’s character’s Iris. In pursuit of
the thrill, Scorsese introduces murdering as his final psychological
assault on his audience’s senses.
How does the P&A of this trailer break new ground, using social
disruption it has thrilled by means never sought before in a widely
2. Taxi Driver – Trailer
Fatal Attraction collected the public’s discomfort with liberated
professional women (who could set their own terms in relationships),
disgust with adulterous men professional men who found these women
attractive, and anger regarding how more traditional women might be
undone in regard to the relationships between the other two. And of
course crazy neurotic behavior is always scary.
Unusually this project was actually sympathetic to actress Anne
Archer’s female character Beth Gallagher. On a progressive note,
fortunately women could be both victim and victimizer with men could
be an enabling force; and not necessarily the hero.
3. Fatal Attraction
- Click here to see trailer
Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs takes a step toward
eliminating the horror master Hitchcock by instituting a new or
different horror master, Martin Scorsese. He does this by using “Taxi
driver” actress, Jodie Foster as his heroine Clarisse Starling. So
what will the director use to shock his audience? Of course there’
was the horror of female mutilation, cannibalism, and lastly presumed
homosexual hatred of women. Yet the last topic won’t be addressed in
Does Demme succeed in his effort? In terms of success, given that
era’s 1.) Fears regarding gay sexual identity, 2.) Anger and anxieties
regarding female professional mobility, and 3.) The Universal horror
pertaining to humans eating other humans. Demme seemed to produce the
ultimate psycho-thriller stew.
4. Silence of the Lambs
For the The Usual Suspects trailer, mystery is everything so unlike
so many of the thrillers before it, only a few narrative hints are
revealed. One of the most misleading aspects of the film is its
formidible lead protagonist Kaiser Soze. Unlike so many of the
previous movies no female is placed in danger, no taboo violence is
threatened, yet the fear of retribution and the fear that it can’t be
withstood is hammered into the audience’s collective heads again and
A trick ending like few others, the ensemble cast threatens to hit on
as many intellectual levels (and gangster clichés) as possible, though
one should n’t expect the outcome to illustrate any psychological
legacy seen before. The P&A produced trailer is so cool, reserved yet
emphatic that one can almost tell an unexpected narrative outcome is
5. The Usual Suspects
- Click here to see trailer
Told from the perspective of the protagonist/antagonist who incidentally has
little memory, Christopher Nolan’s Memento is an exercize in paranoia,
frustration and fear based on a disability. In some ways resembling
movies like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Memento doesn’t strip the hero
of all of his faculties yet lets us experience his vulnerability like
it was our own. No giant social issues in this scenario, all threats
are personal. Like traditional thriller female characters, Guy
Pearce’s Leonard Shelby is objectified with a landscape of memories
tatooed to his body. Were forced to use it to find any inspirational
note that might be salvaged; we understand Shelby may loose this
struggle but that doesn’t pursuade us to leave his side.
United in the goal of misdirection, the trailer threatens us, leads us
into dead ends, lies to us, and then cheats us out of our assumptions.
Who is on trial, in this drama: possibly the audience for every
common assumption and every presumed easy answer we apply.
- Click here to see trailer
Though not really important to his discussion, psychological thrillers
really do need a story that is unique enough to take audiences
However the film is constituted by way of director, screenplay writer(s), or actor(s),
all including the P&A collaborators must agree on the fears imbedded
in the central premise of the plot.
Please join us for a discussion Thursday 7/5/2012@7pE/12UTC