I chose to analyze the movie trailer for the movie The Possession. From the trailer, it can be inferred that this movie belongs to the genre of horror. It targets audiences that prefer horror movies, since there seem to be a lot of scary scenes, such as when the creatures are seen flying into the girl’s mouth. There are a couple of action scenes in the trailer too, for instance, when the girl stabs her father’s hand with a fork. The movie can also attract people that are into the medical field because various scenes in the trailer show the girl going to the doctor and getting tested, so those people might want to see if there are any medical complications with the girl. The special effects may attract an audience as well.
This trailer utilizes various rhetorical devices to convince the audience to watch the movie. When I first watched the trailer, what caught my attention were the words “based on a true story.” This is an example of the trailer trying to establish its credibility, or ethos, in order to get people to be interested in the movie. I know I am. Another thing that I noticed in the trailer were the names of the production companies, Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures. Lionsgate has made some good movies in the past, such as Crash, and the Ghost House pictures company is known for making horror movies. So ethos is used again in the trailer thorough these names to capture the curiosity of the audience. According to Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters in Everything’s an Argument, establishing credibility is important because “audiences pay attention to ethos” (53) and therefore will be more likely to watch the movie if they have “respect” (53) for the directors of the movie. That is what the trailer is trying to do. In addition, the actors in this movie do not seem that recognizable to me and so ethos is used once more by the trailer because more people might be tempted to watch the movie since they do not have a particular typecast for the actors. According to Louis Giannetti in Understanding Movies, this means that the actors cannot be “identified with a label,” (279) as to what type of acting they should do or the type of movie they should star in, due to the fact that they might not be that well known yet. So the audience can see the actors in any type role or movie.
The use of pathos is also evident in the trailer. For example, special effects in the trailer create suspense and fear, which might be scary for some of the audience members, but other people might be curious to find out what will happen in the movie. A scene that stood out to me was when the girl is looking down her throat and she sees two fingers coming out. That scene startled me, but I also want to see the movie more due to that. It seems that the movie will have interesting special effects. The use of color and lighting is another instance in which pathos is observed in the trailer. This helps in trying to persuade the audience to watch the movie since “color tends to be… strongly emotional in its appeal” (Giannetti 22). In the beginning of the trailer, the colors are bright, the music is soft, and the family seems happy. There are no action or scary scenes at this point either. Then as the trailer progresses, the colors darken and special effects are used to create the scary scenes. The music gets louder and higher pitched as well. The girl’s acting becomes darker too. An image I remember from the trailer is the girl standing in a room with her head down, but the whole scene is red. It is a bit creepy, but the use of the color red “suggest[s] aggressiveness, violence, and stimulation” (Giannetti 22). It captured my attention.
I thought this was an effective trailer. It did a good job of utilizing ethos and pathos to convince the audience to watch the movie and some people might watch the movie due to the fact that this movie is based on a true story. Logos would be coming into play here since that is the reasoning behind their motive to watch the movie.
Link to the Movie Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gBeG31fX40