The Hollywood Forever Cemetery may boast an occupancy list filled with silver screen legends, powerful oil tycoons, and two members of The Ramones, yet there is one demographic that the gilded graveyard is sorely lacking- the living dead. No, I’m not suggesting that they populate the cemetery with any of those fictional flesh-eaters of the George A. Romero variety. Instead, I’m advocating for the installation of a shrine dedicated solely to the lost careers of actors who could never shake their audience’s undying identification with that one great role they once performed. Tenants of this “Tomb of the Forgotten Actor” will include, among others, the entire cast of Seinfeld, the majority of the cast of Friends, and that guy who played Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
I’ve got nothing against these actors, but, simply put, success can be a double-edged sword in the entertainment industry. That’s why, after Daniel Radcliffe uttered his last “Wingardium Leviosa!” in theaters this past July, I couldn’t help but feel a bit anxious about the downward trajectory that his acting career will soon take.
I can’t think of any other job I would have preferred less than being a member of the marketing team for Radcliffe’s first post-Potter film, titled The Woman in Black. No, siree. I’d rather be scrubbing crusty toilet seats in a highway rest stop in the middle of the Mojave. How in the name of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named does one convince a Harry Potter-crazed audience to disassociate Radcliffe with his famous lightning-scarred alter ego? Sure, this movie might be successful because Radcliffe is in it, but it won’t take many mediocre roles for the young actor to earn a resting place beside Lisa Kudrow in the “Tomb of the Forgotten Actor.” That’s why it’s so shocking that the preview for The Woman in the Black is surprisingly fantastic. The film just might be good enough for Radcliffe to actually get his wish and be taken seriously as an actor post-Potter. After watching the trailer a few times, I have devised a list of steps that I am absolutely certain the marketing team followed religiously while developing this superb first trailer.
Step 1: Don’t start off with any text advertising Radcliffe’s appearance in the movie. Instead, begin the trailer inside a dusty Victorian bedroom decorated with creepy, antique child toys that would even make Chucky shudder in fear.
Step 2: Have these morbid toys inexplicably play an eerie tone on their miniature instruments. 94% of American movie goers admit being deathly afraid of movies that feature toy clowns that play tambourine but end up seeing said movies anyway.
Step 3: Don’t allow Radcliffe to squawk a single syllable for the entirety of the trailer. The instant the audience hears that familiar British accent, they will think the trailer is for some new Smell-o-Vision version of Harry Potter featuring the aromas of Bertie Bott’s jellybeans.
Step 4: Don’t fulfill the “loud boos amidst big boobs” horror movie trailer stereotype. Giving away all of the film’s scares in the trailer while also satiating the horny appetites of acne-ridden teenage boys always ends in middling box office receipts. Rather, let the viewer be awed by the gorgeously gothic cinematography featured in the preview.
Step 5: End the trailer with a whimper, not a bang. The brief, silent appearance of the shadowy figure of the Woman in Black behind Radcliffe is much more effective than any silly horror movie screech.
By closely following these steps, the creators of The Woman in Black may just have ensured the longevity of Daniel Radcliffe’s Hollywood career or at the very least they have delayed the inevitable. Now, if only The Michael Richards Show had featured tambourine-playing toy clowns…
By: Anthony Serrano