Oh, what a difference a well-considered piece of marketing can make. Despite being an original movie — as opposed to one of the never-ending stream of remakes that horror fans love to rail against — nobody was paying much attention to Peter Cornwell’s The Haunting in Connecticut, probably because it was coming out rated PG-13 (the one thing fans love to hate even more than they hate remakes). But there were a few early signs that underestimating this movie was a mistake.
First, unlike other “inspired by a true story” movies, this one actually is based on a true story, one previously given the documentary treatment on The Discovery Channel, something that immediately ups the creepiness factor in my book. But horror folk are a jaded lot and that wasn’t enough to raise more than the occasional eyebrow. Second, while most PG-13 horror panders to the audience with a nonstop parade of pretty (but vapid) young things on screen, Haunting is anchored by real life, honest to goodness, damn good character actors: Virginia Madsen ( Sideways ) and Elias Koteas ( Apt Pupil ). And yet, this didn’t provoke much interest, either.
In fact, other than the occasional, obligatory coming soon announcement, nobody had much of anything to say about Haunting until the first trailer arrived, which — surprise! — proved to have a pretty compelling atmosphere to it. Finally! Some commentary, though somehow I suspect that the producers were hoping for something a little less squealy than: ” OMGOSH!!!!!!!!! ZACH YOU AND HEATHER ARE SO GOING TO HAVE SO MUCH FUN WATCHING THIS MOVIE OMG OMG OMG!!! I MIGHT COME WITH YOU GUYS AND WE CAN ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER WATCHING THIS SCARY MOVIE!!!! BOOO! JUST KIDDING!!!” (OMG!!!!!!, Trailer Addict)
OK, I’m being a little facetious with that quote, but despite the high quality trailer — which was by far the best of the loop that I caught running in front of My Bloody Valentine 3D — the dominant reactions at this point were still very much from the tween and young teen set, featuring a lot of young girls overly excited by the presence of young star Kyle Gallner. “I love Kyle Gallner!!! He’s so good in everything that he’s in!! I hope that we see him in more things. This kid has got so much talent. It’s almost scary!!” (Jackie L Vester, Ace Showbiz).
Now, while I’m sure that the people behind The Haunting in Connecticut will be more than happy to take money from those teen girls, I’m also quite certain that they were hoping to reach a little bit wider than that. But what to do when your movie is following tight on the heels of Friday the 13th, and that’s all the hardcore horror set is thinking about? Clearly, the producers of Haunting needed to make a splash.
Enter the motion poster.
A relatively new phenomenon, the motion poster is really nothing more than an overgrown Flash ad — a poster-proportioned image with sound and movement elements. The first one to really attract attention was one for scifi blockbuster Terminator Salvation and, perhaps inspired by the way that poster helped turn the tide of negative feeling towards the new Terminator (now firmly entrenched as one of the most anticipated films of 2009), the Haunting team opted to produce one of their own, one built around a striking — and truly disgusting — image of its young star vomiting what appears to be zero-gravity ectoplasm.
Result? KABOOM! Suddenly The Haunting in Connecticut is the belle of the ball; the poster is featured prominently on pretty much every movie website there is. A quick scan turned up eighteen different sites referring to the new motion poster and — most importantly — it’s not just the horror geeks taking notice. The scifi kids are feeling squeamish about the ectoplasm. Coming Soon is all over it. Even the indie and foreign flick geeks are juiced with anticipation. And, yes, all the big horror sites are on board as well. You want bang for the buck? Motion posters are, apparently, the biggest bang going right now.
“That’s pretty iconic, makes
me think of a certain gross but awesome and memorable scene from The
Exorcist. It has been a while since a horror movie has grabbed my
attention and made me want to see it like this.” (Elshifto, Coming Soon)
“THATS PROLLY THE MOST AWESOME POSTER EVER! BUT I AGREE IF ONLY WE COULD REALLY SEE THIS IN THE THEATRES OR ON OUR WALL!” (Jason4eva, Bloody Disgusting)
“That is beyoooooooooond f**ked.” (VincentCostigan, JoBlo)
Get used to the motion poster phenomenon, kids… with the success rate these early ones are experiencing, they’re here to stay. Now just wait until they start mounting video screens in theaters to run them there…Read More