Lionsgate released the first full trailer for The Hunger Games today and, as hoped, it looks like they're on the right track translating Suzanne Collins' dystopian thriller onto the big screen.
A few months ago, we posed why we think The Hunger Games should be on horror fan radars when it opens in March 2012. We know most horror fans shudder at even giving it a glance since mainstream coverage is hawking the film as the next Twilight or Harry Potter film franchise. The good news is that the only thing The Hunger Games books have in common with those series is the fact that they all originated on the Young Adult book shelves. But don't let the kiddie shelf fool you, there's enough bloodshed and brutal death in The Hunger Games trilogy that they've been banned in some communities for being too adult for young readers.
We've watched the trailer and we're stoked that director Gary Ross looks like he's captured the dark tone and signature elements of The Hunger Games world. We've broken down some of the best trailer moments that foretell the worthwhile horrors to come next March.
Don't worry if you're asking "Hey, what's up with Elizabeth Banks in the freaky white wig and pink eyes?" that's a good thing. Banks is all but unrecognizable as Effie Trinket the official Capitol representative of District 12. Dressed like her fellow garish Capitol citizens, Trinket shows up every year to pick the names of the two children that will fight to the death against 22 other District youths in the nationally televised Hunger Games. Looking like a fuchsia-colored Miss Havisham, Trinket is just a taste of the freak show to come when the District 12 tributes, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), relocate to the Capitol amongst all its excesses to train for the games.
Katniss in the Capitol
As reflected in the trailer, heroine Katniss Everdeen is a hunter in the futuristic world of Panem. She lives a hard life in District 12 as the sole provider for her emotionally fragile mother and little sister, Primrose. There are no sparkly supernatural creatures or moon-eyed diversions for pragmatic Katniss, just day-to-day survival. It's a bleak world and a violent one especially considering the Hunger Games are a Capitol imposed annual punishment for a long-ago people's revolt. Once Katniss volunteers to take the place of her young sister in the games, she's whisked off to the training building where she's got to learn more skills than the ones she's picked up illegally hunting in the wild. The white-clad, jack-booted Capitol guards are the muscle of Panem's President Snow. Our immediate reaction is they look a bit Droog-esque from A Clockwork Orange mixed with the guards from THX and that's alright by us.
When it was announced that Donald Sutherland was cast as Panem's ruthless President Snow, for the book fans it was a moment of perfect casting. Now seen in full Snow regalia with his white hair and white rose in his lapel, Sutherland is just reinforcing that he is certainly the visual embodiment of the man that has no compunction about sending children out to murder one another to both amuse and to prove a vicious point. The man knows how to play a memorable baddie and Snow is an adversary that just grows more frightening as the story unfolds.
Katniss in the Cage
In the later part of the trailer, Katniss (and her fellow tributes) are put inside individual, inescapable glass tubes as the countdown begins. Inside their chamber, each tribute will rise up to arena and begin the ultimate test of survival. Even in just the few seconds onscreen, it's already a claustrophobic and particularly heinous way to thrust innocents into a melee for their lives as a panicked Katniss' face proves.
The Games Begin
The ominous count of one spurs the 24 kids to launch off their podiums to grab anything they can to get the jump on one another in a frenzied sprint that elicits goose bumps of dread. There's nothing pretty about where these games are going and Ross' breakneck energy in capturing the panic and sheer survival instinct in action bodes well for the darkness to come. It looks raw and pumped with adrenaline, just what a good horror flick needs.
What did you think of the trailer? Having seen a taste, do you now think the movie is going to do justice to the dark themes and scenes played out in The Hunger Games?