Why This Works: The “Suburbicon” Trailer

Tone and comic timing are often just as important as blowing audiences away

The Trailer: Suburbicon, directed by George Clooney, written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac

Suburbicon (2017) - Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures

The Brief: A murder mystery/black comic caper set in the 1950s, Suburbicon has all the earmarks of a Coen Brothers movie (despite their handing over of the reins to frequent collaborator Clooney on this one): A seemingly normal guy caught up in increasingly ridiculous--and often bloody--situations as his life and the life of those around him spirals out of control. In a summer that has seen some bombastic entries from the Marvel and Star Wars universes, Suburbicon has to work a little harder to make its quirky voice heard. So how does it do it?

“I love a trailer that tells a great story in under three minutes,” says Rosella Tursi, a film editor whose credits include the Showtime series Dark Net, the Investigation Discovery series Scene of the Crime, and Viceland’s Vice Guide To Film.  “The pacing is flawless, with the perfect number of peaks and valleys so that the viewer doesn’t feel assaulted by the speed of dialogue delivery and cuts between shots. The choice of music is perfect, suspenseful and quirky, with starts and stops to properly exploit specific moments, and it’s not overwhelming.”

When you’re dealing with a work that doesn’t feature iconic or instantly recognizable characters (you don’t really have to work too hard to get people to connect with, say, Spider-Man or Batman), it can be tough for a trailer to give you enough information about these characters to hook you, without giving up the whole thing. According to Tursi, this is another area in which the Suburbicon first look excels. “I love that I can hear every line on the first watch of this trailer. The characters are endearing in an anti-hero way, and there’s an almost immediate connection between the viewer and the protagonists of the film. We’re rooting for them even though they’re committing terrible, violent acts.” 


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