Every time I watch this video, it makes me cry.
The question I ask myself, I suppose, is why. What is it about the broken-up timeline that makes the video so effective? Why would it not be as effective if told in a straightforward fashion?
I think the answer has to do with our ideas of narrative. The truth is that even in a situation like theDead Island trailer, even when the timeline is broken, we (i.e. viewers & readers & well, just human beings) can’t help seeing a narrative. We can’t help seeing each segment in the order its given to us and making that into a coherent story.
Look at it this way, if the trickery with time was taken out, strictly, for the whole mini-movie what you would see are a few shots of the family as they arrive (what happens at the very end of the video), then the daughter running from zombies, the parents trying to save her, the daughter turning, attacking the father, and everyone overrun with the final shot being the zombified daughter falling to the ground. What would that leave us with? The futility of life? A short story replaying events we’ve seen nigh a thousand times in zombie narratives? What’s theactual story?
But the way that the movie plays out now, there’s a clear story, a clear focus. Sure, zombie stories pretty much always end the same way (excepting outliers like Shaun of the Dead): everyone dies. This is no surprise. But what the trailer highlights is the humanity we watch zombie movies for — the struggle against the inevitable, and the love (and humanity) that drives that struggle forward. What’s the last shot? Where are both timelines coming together? The father and the daughter reaching out for one another, in hope and love.
Most of my stories (and novels) don’t have what you (or I, for that matter) would call happy endings. That’s because I don’t care about the ending. The ending doesn’t matter. What matters is what happens along the way, both the struggle to overcome and the struggle to hold onto our humanity while doing so.
But horror is only interesting to me for the beauty it reveals. And beauty is only as interesting as the world it stands out against.