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 full looks at the latest from Neill Blomkamp, Demonic, as well as underwater horror The Deep House, anime heavy-hitter Belle and more.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Release Date: August 20, 2021
It’s been six years at this point since the last narrative feature from director Neill Blomkamp, 2015’s Chappie, but fans of the South African sci-fi futurist will be thrown a lifeline in August with the upcoming release of Demonic. The IFC Midnight film looks to be a fusion of low-budget horror with Blomkamp’s trademark sci-fi musings, although the trailer below is a bit difficult to interpret. It seems to contain segments of virtual reality that might make one think of the machine/technology in Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, but the fusion of “demonic” theming with a reality altering machine almost evokes the basic structure of the epic bomb that was Exorcist II: The Heretic. Somehow, we have a feeling that Blomkamp would probably prefer to avoid that particular comparison. Clearly, looking at the trailer, it’s easy to see that there’s a lot more going on than just that. Demonic was shot in the middle of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, in British Columbia, Canada, and its low-budget look and feel makes one wonder if this was perhaps an exercise for Blomkamp to stretch his creative muscles and remain busy while eyeing bigger projects. He’s been attached to many films over the last half decade, often being rumored for projects that never pan out. He’s still possibly making another sci-fi film titled Inferno and starring Taylor Kitsch, but there hasn’t been much news on it since late 2019, thanks to the pandemic. The simply titled Demonic, meanwhile, sounds a bit too much like a zero-budget Netflix original for our taste, but hopefully Blomkamp’s directorial presence will carry it to more interesting territory.—Jim Vorel
Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Release Date: June 30, 2021
The discerning horror geeks among us have seen haunted house tropes applied to seemingly every setting imaginable. Haunted house in space? You’ve got Event Horizon. Haunted house below the surface of the Earth? As Above, So Below. Haunted house on an airplane? Flight 7500. There’s not much we haven’t seen, when it comes to finding a new locale for ghosts. Literally sinking a haunted house and then scuba diving through it, though? I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever come across that particular premise before, but it’s exactly what we’re getting in upcoming horror film The Deep House. This French offering (but English language) follows a team of videographers as they dive to the bottom of a lake to explore a sunken house, only to find more than they bargained for in the process. The Deep House is directed by the partnership of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, the duo who produced the famously disturbing 2007 quasi-slasher Inside, frequently cited as a major film in the movement known as New French Extremity. That should be enough horror bonafides to interest the international horror geeks in the audience, although we have to wonder how you manage to keep the attention of that audience engaged through what might be interminable scuba diving sequences in the sunken house. Here’s hoping that Bustillo and Maury have some tricks up their sleeve to break up the long portion of the film that will be spent in low-visibility conditions in particular.—Jim Vorel
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Release Date: July 16, 2021
After receiving nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes in 2018 for his animated film Mirai, director Mamoru Hosoda returns with a magical new feature that is sure to sate fans of his previous work—and potentially impress awards voters again as well. The story follows Suzu: A 17-year-old girl who becomes a popular singer—the titular Belle—within an online community called “U,” despite being very shy and withdrawn in real life. Though no one knows her real-life identity, Suzu garners worldwide acclaim and success, but everything changes when a monstrous creature known as the Beast enters the world of “U.” While frightful, Suzu forms a relationship with the Beast as Belle, and together they embark on an life-changing adventure. Produced by Hosoda’s animation company Studio Chizu, the production of the film includes some other big names in the animation industry, such as character designer Jin Kim, who’s worked on numerous classic Disney films like Hercules, Tarzan and Frozen. In addition, Hosoda teamed up with the animators of Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, who are behind the Oscar-nominated Wolfwalkers, working on some background art for scenes in the internet world of “U.”—Brianna Zigler
Director: Matt Thompson
Release Date: July 30, 2021
No, that’s not Brock Samson despite the massive frame and flowing golden mane. It’s Channing Tatum’s take on George Washington, as interpreted through the upcoming Netflix animated movie America: The Motion Picture. A little more R-rated than the Founding Father we know and love (aside from a Brad Neely animation here or there). The silly-looking take on the advent of America has a stacked voice cast—Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Judy Greer, Bobby Moynihan, Raoul Max Trujillo, Killer Mike, Andy Samberg, Will Forte and Simon Pegg join Tatum—and hopefully some humor to back it up beyond those weird viral images of Abe Lincoln wrestling a bear that circulated the internet a decade ago. Director Matt Thompson has some real comedy chops, coming from Archer and Frisky Dingo, so there’s a decent chance this’ll be better than its admittedly lackluster trailer’s jokes.
Director: Lisa Joy
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Westworld co-creator/co-mastermind Lisa Joy is making her feature directing debut with Reminiscence, which puts Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson into what can only be described as an Inception-like look at escapism, the past and reality. Instead of dreams, this time it’s the past that everyone’s diving back into thanks to some incredible technology. Westworld alum Thandiwe Newton co-stars in this post-apocalyptic sci-fi, which will assuredly be just as heady as the HBO show and its cinematic influences combined.
Director: Morgan Neville
Release Date: July 16, 2021
Three years after the death of Anthony Bourdain, a man whose travels were well-documented both in his own words and on screen, the chef/host is getting a feature documentary of his own. Oscar-winner Morgan Neville helms this look, which combines Bourdain’s own charismatic footage with talking heads appreciating the late multi-hyphenate. Expect the tears to flow, especially with his loss still such a raw wound.