This Week In Trailers: Jumbo, Test Pattern, Honeydew, The Pond, Body Brokers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week, we fall in love with a carnival ride, enjoy the simple delight of a slow burn, get supernatural, hallucinate for funsies, and make it a Blockbuster Night with Frank Grillo.

Jumbo

Director Zoé Wittock’s debut feature about a woman falling in love with a tilt-a-whirl may be uneven, but the trailer is fantastic.

Jeanne (Noémie Merlant, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. She still lives at home with her mother and is fascinated with lights and carousels. When Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction, a thrilling and unique romance ensues.

There are just some things that transcend normal narratives, and for me, something weird mixed with sumptuous visuals will get my vote every day. I don’t care that the story may be threadbare, or that it would be next to impossible for any sane human to believe what you’re seeing, but I’m in the mood for the bizarre. After seeing this trailer, you’re either in or you’re out and I’m all the way in.

Test Pattern

Director Shatara Michelle Ford is taking her time.

Part psychological horror, part realist drama, this exhilarating debut feature from Shatara Michelle Ford is set against the backdrop of national discussions around inequitable health care and policing, the #metoo movement, and race in America. Test Pattern follows an interracial couple whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit. Their story reveals the systemic injustices and social conditioning women face when navigating sex and consent within the American patriarchy. Winner of top prizes at the BlackStar and New Orleans Film Festivals, this gripping social thriller offers a unique exploration of institutional racism and sexism from a Black female point of view.

This hits like a punch to the face. There are not a lot of options nowadays for entertainment labeled a “slow burn.” Throwing in themes of “inequitable health care,” racism, sexism, while letting this trailer reveal itself to be a strange fever dream of a story is pure wonderment. However, after we pass through a vortex of what brings us all together her, things start to feel hazy. As we lose grip on what is real and what is visual hyperbole, great editing takes over as the trailer spirals out of control. This is how you sell an independent feature. Razzle and dazzle them.

Honeydew

Director Devereux Milburn has my attention.

Strange cravings and hallucinations befall a young couple after seeking shelter in the home of an aging farmer and her peculiar son.

It’s been a while for all of us looking for some entertainment that defies normal explanation. The trailer begins like many dime-a-dozen horror flicks that want to be transgressive but just end up being uninteresting. However, there are little flourishes here and there that make you stick around. At about the minute mark, that’s when this thing cooks. It’s bizarre while feeling grounded, looks rough around its edges but well-shot. But the best part is that it serves up a solid jump scare or two. For those of us who want to feel something, anything, this little indie that could might possibly do just that.

The Pond

Director Petar Pasic is taking us into the woods.

Anthropology professor was kicked out from his university for claiming to be on the threshold of an apocalyptic discovery. Someone or something is still interested in his work.

I don’t know why the woods are so often used as places for the devilish and unholy, but I’ll take it. Overall, this looks like the kind of feature that you might put on if there’s nothing else to watch on a Friday night, but there’s no denying the competency of the filmmaking. Toss in some kids who no doubt will be leveraged by the end of this movie in some evil capacity and you’ve got my vote for a must-see. Horror is like pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still kinda good.

Body Brokers

Director John Swab is making some solid VHS entertainment here.

Utah and Opal are junkies living on the streets of rural Ohio until a seemingly chance encounter with the enigmatic Wood brings them to Los Angeles for drug treatment. Utah appears to find sobriety with the help of treatment center shrink, Dr. White, and tech turned love interest, May. They soon learn that drug treatment is but a cover for a predatory business, enlisting addicts to recruit other addicts.

99 Homes this ain’t, but that’s okay. Sometimes all you need is a little flash, a little pizzaz, and a vehicle that allows the charisma of Frank Grillo to shine through. The production values are on shaky ground here, and the story is a little hilarious, but if I was at home kicking it on a Wednesday night, this might get me through hump day. It’s a little farfetched with its premise, but with the promise this was based on “actual events,” it’s more than enough to get me interested in this ripped-from-the-headlines narrativ,e even if it’s only a fractional bit true.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers for possible inclusion in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at [email protected] or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week: