How The 'Us' Trailer Gave Away The Twist

How The 'Us' Trailer Gave Away The Twist

Let me say this upfront: This article is not about the ultimate twist in Us, a reveal in that happens in the very final minutes. The trailer doesn't give that away (though it foreshadows it). I'm talking about the movie's music, something that many people who watched the movie don't even identify as a twist.

It's 100 minutes in, and it's the best part of the film. Earlier, the characters jammed to "I Got 5 on It" while driving, and now during a fight scene, the song comes back as the film's score. This time, it's done in strings, with some strange unidentifiable time signature. It takes you a few seconds to understand what's going on with the music, and when you do realize, your jaw drops. Then you watch as the music continues, against a fight scene that's practically ballet and a series of flashbacks that are literally ballet.

After I saw the movie in the theater, I went home and watched the trailer, because I'd heard the trailer was good but had skipped it to avoid spoilers. The trailer uses the weird version of "I Got 5 on It" (called the "Tethered remix," or "Pas de Deux" in its totally instrumental form). Apparently, everyone who watched the trailer loved hearing the music there. 

But in return for immersion in an ad, all those people missed out on getting surprised by the music's arrival in the movie. They saw the scene just like me, and I'm sure they enjoyed the violins, but they weren't bowled over by a twist. To them, it was just the music from the trailer again. Of course, I can rewatch the movie now and enjoy the music despite know it's coming, but I also got the initial experience of its full effect, and that's something they'll never get to have. 

I've talked to a few different people about this. None of them think it's a big deal, but then all of them saw the trailer first, so they don't know what they were missing. I really want to hear from other people who heard the music in the film unprepared, so they can tell me either that I'm right or (let's be realistic) that they think I'm overreacting. 

Incidentally, Wikipedia says the studio created the piece for the trailer and only inserted it into the final cut of the film due to how well the trailer was received. That makes no sense and is untrue; like so much in Wikipedia, this fact cites some source that says nothing on the subject. 

If you're like most people, you're not terribly concerned about getting music cues spoiled for you, but you would rather plot twists not be spoiled for you. Well, the Us trailer also spoils the plot (even if, again, it doesn't spoil the absolute final twist). The plot spoilers are almost not worth mentioning here, since all trailers spoil plot. 

The Us trailer shows shots from late in the film—most trailers do because it would be irresponsible from a marketing perspective not to use every bit of footage they can. It reveals the underground facility, whose appearance 90 minutes into the film is supposed to be a confusing surprise. It reveals the family fighting the tethered in town, which you're also not supposed to expect during the part of the movie that seems purely about a home invasion.

Heck, even including the home invasion in the trailer is a spoiler. The first half an hour of Us foreshadows that something spooky is going to happen, but you aren't supposed to know in advance that doppelgangers of the family are going to attack them in their home. Yes, that's the premise of the movie, but you're not supposed to know a story's premise when you first begin watching or reading it. If you think you should, that just shows how marketing has broken our idea of how storytelling works. 

Avoid trailers whenever possible. They only hurt how you experience a film. And if you're checking trailers to decide whether you should experience a film, well, that's like googling ads for Coke and Pepsi to decide what to drink—why are you putting your trust in a marketing department? If you can't decide whether to see a movie, look to buzz from reviewers and audiences rather than a plot summary. It's the 2020s, you're going to hear this buzz whether you want to or not. Sure, you can't always rely on buzz to accurately gauge a movie's quality, but it's a better predictor than a trailer, and it's less likely to rob you of surprises. 

Trailers are only useful when the movie you're going to see offers no surprises and you're better off knowing that in advance. For example, I remember plenty of people complaining about how unoriginal Avatar was. That aspect of the movie never bothered me. I saw the trailer openly lay out the entire plot, beginning, middle, and end, so though the movie offered no plot surprises, I went into it expecting none. 

Or, I kind of wish I watched the trailer for The Force Awakens before seeing the film. In the theater, I was incredulous that they were trying to pass that off as a movie, but had I seen the trailer, I'd have known they'd been very honest about exactly what everyone was getting. "Don't get excited," the trailer said, "we're just doing Star Wars again. Or, whatever, do get excited, if you're into that sort of thing."

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