Netflix (And Other) Capsule Marketing Recaps: July 2018

How It Ends (Netflix, Now)

A husband is stranded on the other side of the country when strange events cut off communications and lead to military activity and mass panic. Complicating matters, he’s there with her father, who’s not a fan. The trailer then shows a story where all the characters descend into panic and chaos as the mystery around what happened deepens and more and more questions are raised instead of answered. One more short trailer came out later that skipped the setup and got straight to the chase.

The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter (Netflix, Now)

A clip and some limited publicity happened before Netflix brought the movie to SXSW for a screening where it seemed moderately positive reviews and word of mouth. The trailer released a while later showed Buck (Josh Brolin) taking his son, now living with his mother and her new husband, out for his first deer hunt, something the boy isn’t thrilled about. Along for the trip is Don (Danny McBride), who films Buck’s adventures for the internet. Everyone gets a bit real on the trip and learns something about themselves and the others.

Father of the Year (Netflix, Now)

There’s a real focus on Ben (Joey Bragg) as the trailer begins that shows off how insecure he is and what the cause of many of those issues is, namely his father. From there on out it’s less about Ben and more about how Wayne (David Spade) takes up the challenge of fighting Mardy (Nat Faxon). Along with that we see how Wayne tries to compensate for some of the problems he’s caused his son over the years, but mostly it’s an excuse for Spade to act like a goofball, which actually kind of works, though Faxon is obviously capable of handling much better material. The subplot of Ben’s relationship with Meredith (Bridgit Mendler) gets only a few nods.

Shock & Awe (Limited Release, Now)

The trailer sells the movie as exactly the kind of thing the current administration would not want you to see as it paints the free press as a necessary check on the spin and story provided by the government. In this case we’re following Jonathan and Warren as they’re tasked with poking holes in the claim that leaders are only considering invading Iraq in 2003 when in fact all evidence appears to indicate they have made a decision and are simply searching for justification. Frustrated by the lack of progress being made Galloway is brought in to bring his considerable resources to bear on the effort.

Puzzle (Limited Release, Now)

When the trailer starts we see Agnes is very structured in her day and in therapy because she’s not happy with her life. Part of that is her husband Louie is a big old jerk who degrades and ignores her at every turn. When it turns out she has an aptitude for puzzles she seeks out someone to do them with, finding Robert. They quickly develop a working partnership, taking their skills to competitions and events, all of which causes jealousy in Louie, who’s just mad no one is home cooking dinner. Eventually Agnes finds that her new passion helps her feel better about her life and her situation.

Zoe (Amazon Prime, Now)

Cole and Zoe are shown in the trailer as colleagues who might also be enjoying some benefits, especially since their work seems to revolve around finding people the perfect romantic match. Things get complicated when he develops Ash, a synthetic human who Cole wants to teach emotions to, mainly through interacting with Zoe. The problem is the matching algorithm doesn’t think Ash and Zoe are compatible, which goes against the deepening relationship between them and doesn’t do anything to solve any of the feelings being hurt along the way. The movie was picked up for streaming-first distribution on Amazon Prime just ahead of its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. A first-look photo arrived around that time as well along with interviews like this where the cast talked about working with each other and the story of the film.

Hot Summer Nights (Limited Release, Now)

The first poster works hard to evoke the 80s setting of the story by using a design and aesthetic that looks pulled directly from kind of art that would grace a VHS cover box in that decade. Even the typefaces used in the names of the stars, copy and title seem inspired graphic sensibilities that were prevalent 30 years ago. Daniel is being sent away for the summer as the trailer opens for reasons that aren’t stated but only hinted at by how the conversation happens in a cemetery. He’s not having a whole lot of luck fitting in until he helps a local drug dealer hide his stash from the police. Suddenly he’s an integral part of the local pharmaceutical economy, helping the guy he met better move product and upping their game. That coincides with a growing confidence with a local girl he likes.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.