It’s so easy to miss a AAA trailer these days, even with all the endless marketing build-up around teasers, pre-trailers (“in one day,” etc) and other forms of cinematic hype. A good trailer is an art form, one that is able to convey a movie’s plot, tone and style all while resisting that ever-present urge to score it to a slowed-down pop song. So here’s the Trailer Park, where we’re parking all the trailers you may have skipped, missed or want to revisit from the past week. Appreciate them. Nitpick them. Figure out if the movies they’re selling are actually going to be any good. That’s all part of the fun, after all.
This week, we’ve got Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and a horror double feature: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which will be the third in that franchise’s main series, and Werewolves Within, a horror/comedy based on the hidden role game.
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Release Date: September 3, 2021
After what feels like an interminable period of impatiently waiting, we have our first look at Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which aims to propel the Marvel Cinematic Universe in an entirely new direction in terms of both representation and action choreography. A true martial arts epic, the first teaser from the film seems to strike a tone somewhere between high wuxia fantasy and the more down-to-earth martial arts comedies of a performer like Jackie Chan. It’s clear from the teaser below that Shang-Chi intends to lean heavily into top-flight fight choreography and practical stuntwork, giving this MCU entry a decidedly different vibe than so many of the FX-driven blockbusters we’ve seen recently.
The titular Shang-Chi is one of the Marvel universe’s preeminent martial artists, trained from birth by the villainous Ten Rings association to be an assassin. Played by Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu, Shang-Chi leaves behind the life of violence in which he was raised to escape to the U.S., where he tries to create a normal life for himself in San Francisco. However, the machinations of his supervillain father Wenwu/The Mandarin, played by Hong Kong acting legend Tony Leung, draw Shang-Chi back into an ultimate confrontation.—Jim Vorel
Director: Michael Chaves
Release Date: June 4, 2021
Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are back, though the change of director might be concerning to some, given that James Wan directed the first two entries in the series before now passing off the torch to Chaves. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It once again bases itself in a real-life “paranormal case,” but then massively dramatizes it. In this case, the film is based on the 1981 murder of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, whose court defense attempted to rely on the idea that he wasn’t responsible for the crime because he was demonically possessed at the time. This defense went about as well as you’d expect, and Johnson was ultimately found guilty. The trailer below contains some typical Conjuring spookiness, although there appears to be more daytime action and traditional action beats in this installment, judging by the cliffside scene in its conclusion.—Jim Vorel
Director: Leos Carax
Release Date: TBD
Great news for fans of French cinema and Adam Driver’s rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Being Alive”: The trailer for Annette, French director Leos Carax’s latest feature film (and English-language debut) has been released and it’s a musical. Annette, which will open the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, respectively follows Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver as Ann DelGreco, a renown soprano singer, and Henry McHenry, a provocative stand-up comedian. Based on the drama of Henry’s dialogue and the sweeping glimpses of imagery the trailer offers of Henry and Ann’s relationship, it’s likely that Annette will explore the tumult and complications of romantic love that Carax has a habit of centering in his feature work. However, the crux of the film is about Henry and Ann’s daughter, Annette, a girl who is born with extraordinary gifts. If that’s not enough, Sparks, the American pop-rock duo, collaborated with Carax to create the music of the film and appear in Annette’s trailer.—Adesola Thomas
Director: Josh Ruben
Release Date: June 25, 2021
Sometimes, all we need to get excited about a new horror flick is a quick glance at the obvious talents and credentials of all involved, and this is definitely one of those times. Even before seeing the just-released teaser for horror comedy Werewolves Within, it’s hard not to be on board with a film from these performers and creative team. Werewolves Within stars Detroiters’ Sam Richardson as Finn, a small-town cop who must confront a rash of killings, in similar mold to Jim Cummings’ 2020 film The Wolf of Snow Hollow, combined with the mystery aspect of 1974’s classic The Beast Must Die. This looks like a significantly more unabashed horror comedy, however, buoyed by the direction of Josh Ruben, who directed and starred in last year’s horror comedy Scare Me, a prominent finisher on Paste’s list of the best horror films of 2020. The supporting cast is also very impressive, filled with independent comedy performers such as What We Do in the Shadows’s Harvey Guillén, along with Milana Vayntrub, Michaela Watkins, Michael Chernus, Sarah Burns and Glenn Fleshler. This is definitely one of the most promising horror comedy ensembles we’ve seen for a while, and they play off each other nicely in the trailer. —Jim Vorel
Director: Alex Gibney
Release Date: May 10, 2021
Fresh off their deep-dive into the QAnon conspiracy theory, Q: Into the Storm, the HBO documentary machine is firing up once again with a sobering look into the American opioid epidemic. The trailer makes it clear that the documentary will squarely be taking aim at Purdue Pharma L.P., the pharmaceuticals giant that first developed the extended release form of Oxycodone, marketed as OxyContin. The company marketed its new drug extremely aggressively, courting doctors and illegally providing them with vast incentives in order to write prescriptions for OxyContin as a way of managing severe pain—despite those doctors being aware that the drug had the likelihood of creating crippling addictions. Those addictions, and the overdoses that come with them, have since killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.—Jim Vorel