The world got its first glimpse of scenes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the sequel’s first teaser trailer debuted at the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday. The second film, based on Suzanne Collin’s dystopian YA trilogy, finds heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow surviving District 12 Tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), dealing with the escalating fallout of their rebellious choice to almost sacrifice their lives rather than kill one another in the Hunger Games arena.
The deliciously arch discussion between Donald Sutherland’s ruthlessly canny Capitol President Snow, and new Hunger Games Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) makes it very clear that Katniss’ subversive move has to be snuffed out so it doesn’t ignite a bigger spark of dissension.
What does that mean? In the trailer, it means nice old men get shot in the head by Peacekeeper goons, Katniss’ BFF Gale (Liam Hemsworth) gets whipped within an inch of his life, and all of the previous Hunger Games Victors, including Katniss, are going to get collectively punished…[spoilers ahead] in a very special anniversary Hunger Games dubbed the Quarter Quell.
What we also hope it means for Catching Fire is that the other really twisted horrors featured in the book make it into sequel director Francis Lawrence’s cinematic vision. Respected in the industry for his visual style, Lawrence previously helmed Constantine and I Am Legend and both achieved some admirable horror moments (despite the fact that the infected CGI Darkseekers at the end of Legend didn’t work). In Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games, the Gamesmaker-generated threats - from the tracker jacker wasps to the muttation dogs - came off surprisingly weak so there’s a lot of room for Lawrence to amp up his Quell arena for story and scares.
What horrific moments do we want to see in Catching Fire? Here’s our wish list of frights that we hope get translated authentically to the screen [EXTREME SPOILERS AHEAD!]:
The Reading of the Card
In the book, the 75th Annual Hunger Games, or Quarter Quell, gets special designation and special rules. As alluded to in the trailer, Snow and Heavensbee have a hand in shifting the playing field and require that a male and female Victor from each District return to the Arena to battle to the death once more. The whole sequence in the book is primed to become one of those cinematic moments that makes your stomach drop to the floor. The reveal, and subsequent responses, from Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) should capture the real horror of their circumstances.
If you’ve seen Carrie or Army of Darkness, then you’re plenty familiar with how dramatic and freakish a steady dousing of blood on a body can be. In the Quell arena, it’s one of the threats that befall a contingent of Victors including Johanna Mason (Jena Malone). While it doesn’t unleash on Katniss and her core group, we still want to see a flash of what the rain does to Mason’s faction. Hell, we’d even settle for them emerging from the forest dripping in the aftermath.
Another section of the Arena features orange monkey creations conjured up by the Gamemakers. First off, I don’t like monkeys very much, so when these orange fuzzballs in the book suddenly go beserker with fangs and switchblade claws aimed at the Victors, my brain said all kinds of “Hell no!” I think most moviegoers were underwhelmed by the muttation dogs in The Hunger Games, so here’s hoping that a mixture of practical effects and CGI can make these suckers work because the sequence has the potential to be terrifying.
It’s a quick but brutal scene of sacrifice when Mags (Lynn Cohen), the aging District 4 Tribute, decides to take herself out so her fellow Victors can move on to safety without her. She steps into a poisonous fog that makes her writhe violently until she dies. We can see this harrowing scene being an incredibly effective emotional moment that brings the ugliness of the games home to audience.
Cinna’s Last Message
A true game changer in the book for readers and Katniss, what happens to her beloved stylist and friend Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) plays out like a classic horror film bait-and-switch moment. An emotional goodbye between the two right before the Quell begins suddenly turns into a violent nightmare that Katniss just has to watch, helplessly. You need to feel this loss as it spurs Katniss forward in the last act of the story.
What darker scenes do you hope make it into The Hunger Games: Catching Fire?