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Unkindness of Dreams

Preview Review of The Unkindness of Ravens trailer

Trailers like these come out a couple of times a year. They portray a trippy tale of nightmarish themes in which reality bends around the viewer as much as the protagonist. And every time I am pulled in by the visually stunning effects work and intriguing plot. And while many of these films do have underlying character studies, they are often buried under such thick layers of cultural philosophy and overly vague symbolism that it is confusing and overbearing.

Generally, whenever I see a trailer like this, I immediately think of The Cell. That film had its issues. It was clunky, ill-paced in parts, and it seems by some type of sorcery that the more times you watch the film, the shorter the "dream sequences" get. Yet, I feel that film nailed a perspective in high-concept mind trips that more recent interpretations stumble through. The Cell had an explanation for every gruesome and beautiful visual it displayed. It was a morbid perspective on the mind of a psychopath, but it avoided the acid trip that so many similar films fall into.

There is a difference between building character-construct mystery and overly metaphorical incertitude. Visual metaphors should be used to enhance the viewer's experience of the character's mind and provide insight into their personality. These visuals should not be so convoluted and frantic that it is nearly impossible to follow without direct knowledge of the intentions behind the production's behind-the-scenes concepts, that, without expansive study of director's commentary, would be unachievable to the viewer. The Cell succeeded at providing powerful imagery via courageous commitment to the shots, showing everything over extensive, stable scenes.

This is a lesson many films of its caliber could take a note from. While there is a quality found in a film having multiple interpretations, I believe it is a burden for directors pursuing mind-venturing films to have some level of coherence. Sure, one can always say, "Well, you just didn't understand the metaphors..." But that sometimes (not always) is a cop-out for poorly constructed or executed concepts.

Having said that, it is impossible to conclude such fears from the promises emitted in a trailer. This film looks like it will tackle the mind from multiple angles. Military-induced post-traumatic stress from a non-American soldier is a very appealing perspective. The take on the ravens teases symbolism from The Raven and perhaps other cultural mythologies, while giving a more gruesome and brutal turn akin to Lord of Tears. The effects-heavy trailer is both exciting and intimidating. Will it be so heavy that the over-saturation of effects will overload the plot or will it be accented in such a wayt that the plot shines through? Only time will tell on this piece that looks like a visceral nightmare from beginning to end.

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