Alien invasion movies are pretty common, but most of them tend to involve lots of running about and trying to stop them before they progress too far. This week’s How To Talk to Girls At Parties is the story not so much of aliens invading the plane but instead about a group just visiting and the trouble one of their number gets into while trying to blend in.
Elle Fanning plans Zan, one of a group of interstellar visitors stopping by Earth while on a tour of the galaxy. She meets Enn (Alex Sharp), a young man who’s trying to embrace his nascent rebellious side by attending punk concerts and so on. The two form a connection and she’s allowed to accompany him out into the world, in this case the London suburb of Croydon. He’s not aware she’s an alien but thinks she’s just a really neat chick who’s a bit unusual, which he likes. Her social cluelessness and his tendency to forego social niceties add up to an interesting time on the town.
The first poster shows a psychedelic image, with an explosion of colorful stars bursting from the center of the image, with a couple of people in the white middle of that event. The movie’s Cannes credentials are at the top, just above copy that reads “Some girls are out of this world.”
It was quite a while before the next poster came out. This one used the same burst of light in the background but put Sharp and Fanning closer to the camera, her resting her head on his chest. She looks stiff and plastic and he’s doing his best to appear punk. Flanking each are their respective crews, his looking appropriately antisocial and hers looking just as strange and unusual as you’d expect. The stakes of the relationship being teased are laid out in the copy reading “Talk to the girl, save the world.”
Enn and his friends are out for a wild night of clubbing in the trailer (at least the first official trailer…there were a couple rough ones early on that I’m not including here) when they decide to pop into a house inhabited by nothing but lovely young ladies wearing plastic dresses. He meets Zan and the two connect but is pulled out of the house when things get really weird and his friends freak out. Zan leaves the house and tells Enn she has 48 hours for him to show her everything there is. So they get into all sorts of trouble as she’s very awkward (being an alien and all) and eventually there’s some kind of confrontation for Zan’s future and more.
It’s brightly-colored and weird and has a vibe all its own but I kind of dig it. Considering the credentials of those involved, which are displayed prominently in the trailer, it’s hard to imagine it being a complete disaster but it certainly doesn’t look like it’s going to appeal to everyone. It’s also possible this is a sequel to Neon Demons and Fanning is playing the same character, who simply wasn’t revealed as an alien in that movie, but that’s just speculation.
Online and Social
As is pretty common with these smaller releases from A24 the movie got just a single page on the production company’s website that had the basic details on it. There was also minimal support provided on the brand’s core social media profiles.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’ve been exposed to.
Media and Publicity
A set of first-look photos coincided with the movie’s debut at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival that showed off the punk stylings of the lead actresses. Around that same time a few teaser clips were released by the cast. The movie was one of a few Kidman appeared in at the festival, leading to a narrative in the press about the actress’s resurgence and her work ethic.
Things went largely dark for a while until closer to release, when Neil Gaiman – on whose short story the movie is based – talked about its autobiographical nature and how he intended it as a love story accessible to anyone regardless of age or gender. Director John Cameron Mitchell was also interviewed about what he wanted to do with the story and how this fits into his small but notable body of work to date.
I very much feel like this is a subculture movie. That’s not a knock, but given the film’s pedigree, the general audience awareness of the talent involved behind the camera, the lack of big-name stars in front of the camera and an unusual and hard-to-explain story, it’s hard to imagine it breaking out into the mainstream.
That being said, it’s a good campaign. The right kind of audience, the ones predisposed to like this kind of movie, are going to find it and may latch on to it, turning it into whatever the new term for “cult classic” these days is. Fanning continues to be one of the most intriguing young actors around and Sharp gave a great performance in the Netflix series “The End of the F***cking World.” There’s also a nice, consistent attitude that pervades the campaign, meaning if someone sees it, they’ll know pretty quickly what kind of movie is being sold and how.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.