Trailer Park: Upside Down, Inside Out

Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. Though we took a week off for the holidays, the pre-Christmas trailer flood has slowed to a trickle; that said, we’ve managed to rustle up six new films for you. Check ’em all out after the jump.

Bad Ass

Hey, remember Epic Beard Man? Well, now it’s a movie, starring Danny Trejo (who, after Machete, is apparently your go-to guy for silly action movies based on three-minute clips). “He’s mean… he’s angry… he’s old,” the trailer snickers, revamping the story into a Hobo with a Shotgun-style revenge thriller — and trying to use the casting of Trejo (along with an alteration of his bus attacker to a white guy) to diffuse the original video’s troubling racial overtones. Movies like Machete and Hobo had to work hard to make their intentional campiness play; we’ve got a feeling Bad Ass isn’t going to prove up to the task.

L

Shameful confession: Your author never got around to seeing Dogtooth. (I know.) So I can’t speak to how well L, the new film from Babis Makridis, who wrote it with Dogtooth co-writer Efthymis Filippou, will compare to that controversial 2009 release, but its teaser trailer is, well, mighty peculiar. It’s playing at this month’s Sundance Film Festival, and their website provides some much-needed context: it is the story of a man, recently turned 40, who lives in his car and is separated from his family (they live in a different car). He’s fired from his job delivering honey to a narcoleptic, and decides to abandon his car and drive a motorcycle instead. So, yeah. That’s what it’s about.

Thin Ice

This noir-tinged comedy from last year’s Sundance festival looks, admittedly, like it was assembled from spare parts — dash of Fargo here, little Simple Plan there — but the strong cast (Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Lea Thompson, Bob Balaban, and recent Flavorwire conversation topic Billy Crudup) is intriguing, and the comedy-of-desperation tone is always a winner. Plus, co-writer/director Jill Sprecher’s first two films (Clockwatchers and 13 Conversations About One Thing) were underappreciated gems. So we’re cautiously optimistic about this one.

Upside Down

We’ve only got an international trailer thus far for this sci-fi/romance from Juan Diego Solanas, and seeing’s how my French is a little rusty (rusty = I DON’T SPEAK IT), I can’t quite tell you what all those words on the screen mean. But we can pretty safely put together what we’re looking at here: the story of two worlds, one above and one below, and a romance between them that ignites a love-across-the-divide story in the style of Romeo and Juliet (or, perhaps more accurately, Romeo + Juliet). It’s the kind of premise that could fall flat on its face, but kudos to Solanas for taking a chance; it looks stylistically intriguing, and the casting of a post-Melancholia Kirsten Dunst seems appropriate. Pretty sure they won’t take my advice and use Diana Ross’s “Upside Down” as the title theme, though, and shame on them for it.

Silent House

Elizabeth Olsen delivered one of our favorite performances of last year in Martha Marcy May Marlene, but that wasn’t her only film at Sundance last year; she also appeared in Chris Kentis and Laura Lau’s horror thriller Silent House, which features not one, but two show-off gimmicks: it takes place in real time, and it’s all done in one take (or appears to be, anyway; not sure if it was actually shot that way, or cleverly masked to look it, a la Hitchcock’s Rope). The mating of Russian Ark and 24 is a clever one, though, particularly as a peg for a horror picture; the only red flag is its tagline “real fear in real time,” which is just a wee bit too close to the “real terror in real time” line used for Johnny Depp’s awful real-time Hitchcock riff Nick of Time. Still, this is a well-crafted, creepy-looking teaser, and we’ll give just about anything Olsen does a shot.

Return

For all of the future talents that came out of Freaks and Geeks (Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segal, Busy Phillips, Martin Starr, Judd Apatow, Paul Feig), the chief protagonist of the show, Linda Cardellini, has never become the star she should have been, for reasons unclear (too many Scooby Doo movies? Too late to ER?). But she’s a fine actress, and this post-war drama from writer/director Liza Johnson looks like an ample showcase for her skills. She’s also surrounded by a sharp ensemble (we’ll see just about anything Michael Shannon or John Slattery do), and the trailer has a palpable sense of menace that has aroused our curiosity.