Sometimes the trailers we are given not only ruin a film and snatch the surprise and enjoyment away from us, but they can also mis-sell a movie to a potential audience. It’s interesting to look at how certain trailers promote something not entirely representative of the tone of the film, too. This may be a smaller film that appeals to a niche crowd, so manipulate the editing of the footage to make it seem like something else; something more mainstream and therefore accessible to a wider audience.
The story is simply about a couple — David (Dustin Hoffman) and Amy (Susan George) — who move to the countryside for reasons largely unknown, other than to escape from their former lives to start afresh in the peaceful, tranquil hills.
*If you’ve not seen the film then the analysis that follows contains spoilers*
What the trailer reveals
Straw Dogs is an example of such crafty trickery, because of the way it sets up it’s premise and indulgence in the unraveling of the plot through the trailer. What appears — in the trailer at least — is the idea of an exuberant, fast-paced and tense house arrest film. Whereas in actuality and for the most part, it is the opposite. Aside from the latter part of the third act, the plot is an oddball, drama set in rural England. There is incident, sure, but no real sense of action or bloody murder until the final stages where Hoffman’s character finally snaps and fights back.
The film is really about strange occurrences and the psychological behavior of both the central characters as well as the residents of the ‘sleepy village’ they’ve moved to. It’s not a film about action or prolonged violence (aside, as I say, from the build up to the conclusion, and, of course, the rape scene).
It documents the climax here, but tries to imply that the whole film is as pacey and thrilling as that segment, when in reality it really is not. Not only is this about a mis-sell, but it gives us all the key components that we should be taking away from seeing the movie, and not having these ideas prior to it. It emphasises the moment the (as stated) five guys try to break into their isolated home, which will simply leaves audiences who see this film for the first time waiting and waiting for those intense scenes where the windows are smashed and the danger genuinely elevates.
Not the worst ever for spoiling with plot reveals and twists, but combine it with the attempt to package it as a sinister, action-packed thriller, it is perhaps a little naughty.
Spoiler rating: 6 out of 10