The trailer for Songbird snuck up on me with the hard hitting force of a snowball to the ear (true story). Through a conversation with a dear confidante, I was made aware of the controversy of the trailer that seemed “too real” for our current pandemic times. Naturally, this piqued my interest and made me go to YouTube with the speed of a locomotive train.
With buzz words and phrases like “COVID-23, lockdown and grim new reality”, the trailer for Songbird does hit quite close to home. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. At its best, the horror genre can be a canvas for our fears to be projected and explored (be they realistic, supernatural or even outlandish). In turn, the best movies in the genre powerfully speak to our fears and in a sense allow us to achieve a degree of catharsis.
With this in mind, movies that deal with the pandemic should not be dismissed out of hand, in the same way that a movie like The Strangers should not be disregarded for depicting our fear of home invasion. In fact, it would not surprise me if the horror genre deals more with the pandemic in the coming years. Indeed, the upcoming Halloween Kills (sequel to the 2018 reboot) has some trace element of post pandemic subtext. In describing what the film is about, director David Gordon Green said:
“This [Halloween Kills] is more about the unraveling of a community into chaos. It’s about how fear spreads virally.”
My biggest problem with the trailer comes from its behind the scenes talent. The ghost at the feast is producer Micheal Bay. The infamous director and producer’s company (Platinum Dunes) have been responsible for insipid horror remakes such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. While there’s no source material to butcher here, Bay’s loud and regressive aesthetic can infect his producer efforts.
The true horror of Songbird could perhaps be its button pushing premise being slowly drowned out by Bay’s style. As it stands, the trailer sells a film with some intriguing elements. But will it have anything to say about our post Coronavirus world? That remains to be seen.