It can be hard sometimes, marketing a film. You have to show people something that draws their interest and entices them into coming and seeing your movie...and at the same time, you have to keep all the important plot points a secret so that the filmmaker can unfold their vision in the way they want to. After all, time doesn't have to be linear in films; if the director wanted you to see that 5-second clip before you saw anything else in the movie, they'd have put it at the beginning.
Of course, just about every movie has a secret twist or two that they save for the end, and there's just about nobody in the trailer-making business crazy enough to give that away (and in fact, as with 'The Crying Game', there's sometimes a campaign that revolves around emphasizing the secret to get people to go see what the reveal actually is.) But there are some movies that are just so twisty and subversive that they're best viewed cold. Here are five...if you see any titles that you're not familiar with, go watch the movie and then come back to read, OK?
1. The Negotiator. This one is really more a case of a trailer that spills too many beans, honestly. The whole premise involves one big twist--a hostage negotiator is himself forced to take hostages when he's framed for crimes he did not commit. Understandably, the trailer gives that one away because it'd be hard to present the film as exciting without it. But then, unforgivably, it gives away the second big twist--the hostage negotiator negotiating with the hostage-taking hostage negotiator comes to believe that he's telling the truth and begins working with him to help him escape and track down the real criminals. Giving away both twists left viewers with no real reason to go see the movie, which may be why it underperformed at the box office.
2. From Dusk Till Dawn. This one is still a good movie even if you know everything coming in. Let's face it, you're seeing it to watch George Clooney deliver Tarantino tough-guy dialogue and kick vampire butt, and everything else is gravy. But I do know a few people who saw this movie without seeing the trailers, and let me tell you...their reaction when the hard-boiled crime caper movie suddenly morphed mid-way into a vampire flick was instructive. To say the least. If you can get someone to watch this sight unseen, it's worth it.
3. Contagion. Admittedly, you're probably going to guess a little bit of it from the title alone. And admittedly, too much of the movie takes place after Gwyneth Paltrow dies to be able to keep that a secret. But it's pretty clear that they cast a big name in that part solely so that it would surprise the heck out of you when she just drops dead fifteen minutes into the film, and it's a shame that the trailer took away that shocking moment.
4. The Sixth Sense. Sure, everyone knows about the big twist in this one, the secret you must not reveal: Bruce Willis is secretly afraid of water because it will burn his skin like acid and reveal him to be a fake monster created by the village elders so that they won't have to send people out into the world to get killed by the plants. (Who are secretly the last Airbenders, I think...) In all seriousness, the big twist isn't the one that involves Willis, it's the one that involves Osment. The first half of the movie is all about making you think that he's a troubled youth with a psychological problem; it's only at the mid-point that they reveal the truth: He sees dead people. All the time. This, by itself, is a twist worthy of most horror movies, and it's half of why Shyamalan continues to get film gigs long after his audiences have dried up.
5. Cabin in the Woods. Already covered this one a few weeks ago, but it's no less true now. Finding out that the Cabin is a killing-bottle created by a sinister crew of shadowy manipulators for the express purpose of sacrificing the main characters in a ritualistic mass murder is something that really needs to not be known prior to seeing the movie. It's way too much of the movie to avoid showing at all in the trailers, but wouldn't it be awesome if it weren't?