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Dead Island: The best trailer in years? [Video]

February 16, 2011 |  7:28 pm

Movie studios spend millions of dollars every year trying to get us to pay attention to their upcoming films by carefully cutting and distributing trailers. But for all the money and time spent, sometimes the most compelling cinematic material doesn't come from the studios at all.

That's what this fan-made trailer for "The Expendables" proved last year. And on Thursday, when a trailer for a previously little-known video game titled Dead Island started blowing up Twitter, it seemed to happen again. (The game is being developed by Techland and will be published by Deep Silver; there was no release date coming into Wednesday, but we have a feeling that will change pretty soon.)

The trailer, as you'll see below, is a marvelously ambitious work, essentially a short film in all but name. It takes a melancholy piano score and runs it under a battle between a family on vacation and the zombies who have taken over their resort. Apart from the piece's sharp visual style and emotional impact (the father-daughter moment at the end is heartbreaking), the most impressive aspect may be the trailer's structure. It's tough enough to weave in elegant flash-forwards and flashbacks in a full-length feature; the "Dead Island" trailer does it all in about three minutes.

One can only hope one of the zombie movies that studios have in the works is half as good. Or, better yet, someone in Hollywood should drop whatever branded reboot they're working on and develop this as a film.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Comments () | Archives (19)

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That trailer was so awesome, it made me want to jump in and help the dad fight off that hoarde! Gonna have to do some research to find out who the protagonist is, since the whole family perished.

Were you high when you wrote this? This is so going to be off limits to my kids. Ridiculous.

Funny thing is this will probably just get a little attention because it's a video game and not a 'real' art form.

If this was a film people would be touting how it could uplift zombie flicks from silly fun to a serious genre.

Amazing isn't even a fair thing to say about it. Probably one of if not the best trailers in at least a decade.

Better than the latest "True Grit." Much more believable

This looks awesome. If its anything like Black Ops Zombies, im in. Im excited for the possibilites of bigger levels, better guns, and just destroying zombies. whens it coming out? And please, dont buy the game for 12 year olds. Im sick of playing 17+ games with frickin children, not cool.

crappy game, crappy developer. good video though.

Know that this is not coming from an old cranky prude or some crazy religious zealot: I can't believe how supportive people have been of this drivel. This is absolute garbage. First of all, I don't understand how anybody in their right mind could get excited about a new zombie ANYTHING whether it be a film, video game, book, whatever. It's time for a moratorium on this tired, played-out genre. How many different ways can it be twisted? First it's scary, then it's self-aware, then comically ironic. Either way, it's over. Second, how is there any substance to this trailer at all? It's just gratuitous violence, slow-mo, and sappy melancholy music. They might have just as well played "What A Wonderful World" over it. But lastly, and most probably importantly, how in the hell am I supposed to get excited about playing a game like this? Innocent-looking digital child is thrown out of a godddamn building covered in blood and dies on the front lawn of a hotel where she was enjoying a vacation with her family? What a drag, dude. Is this supposed to be "fun"? How is the audience supposed to react to that? "Well I definitely hate zombies now...so this game is going to give me the chance to kick some zombie ass..." Give me a break, dude. If emotionally-manipulative slow-motion images paired with melodramatic string and piano music is all it takes to make a "great" trailer, then I guess I'm out of the loop. And keep counting me out.

Deep Silver and Techland should never have released this trailer.

I am normally an avid fan of the zombie genre and I have been looking forward to the release of Dead Island for some time. However, I am deeply disappointed by the depiction of violence against children in the so-called ‘debut trailer.’ This was one of the most disgusting displays of cynicism that I have ever had the misfortune to witness. As a father of a young girl, I find the trailer repulsive and condemnable beyond my capacity to express in writing. Deep Silver and Techland have brought shame upon their entire industry.

I am a lifelong opponent of government regulation of the content of video games. However, this trailer is just the type of content that justifies involuntary regulation. Having now seen the extent to which Deep Silver and Techland will disregard basic notions of decency, all in an effort to make money, I will gladly support that effort. My only regret is that the consequences of the conduct of a desperate few will inevitably fall on more responsible (and talented) developers.

Finally, the trailer is just another hyped dramatization of the game’s story line. Even if the trailer had been in good taste, the actual game footage I have seen is a C+, at best.

Responding to Jill, well good the game isn't going to be intended for children, I personally thought the trailer was intense and emotional and even though it isn't representative of gameplay was very well made. You say ridiculous as though this article was going out and telling parents to mark their calendars to purchase them for their kids.

@ Collin.

Really? Honestly, when a film does it, it's considered "fine", and all in good taste. But when a video game does it, it's horrible, "garbage". This is silly. Video games are no different than films (apart from the interactivity, and the fact that rarely a game has a well built story line, but regardless). No offense, but when people like Del Torro say video games are the future (he's currently directing Insane btw, a survival horror video game), not films, then that's really saying something.

When a game has good gameplay, a vivid atmosphere, a killer script and plot, great characters, with an incredible sound track then it's nirvana. Nothing else compares, not even 100 movies.

So I guess the whole point of this way to say "backoff" in a polite-ish way. If all your knowledge of videogames stem from Call of Duty, or Halo then you know nothing, and I mean NOTHING about video games as an art form. When you play games like Mass Effect, Heavy Rain, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, Uncharted, etc....you'd understand why.

Games deserve respect, end of case.


If seeing something that's fairly realistic and emotional moving disgusts you, you need to get a grip and join the rest of humanity in reality. There are pedophiles and child rapists out in the world, and you instead are more disgusted by the single best made trailer (movie or game period) in well over a decade... and you want to rant because it frightened you.

Yes, it *frightened* you. It made you realize how utterly plausible a scenario like this would happen if the walking dead were a reality. Simply put, you aren't disgusted, you're utterly terrified. And trying to hide that fear behind some bogus claim of "shame" in the industry and then try to attack the graphics shows how childish you truly are.

I fail to see anything they did that wasn't 'decent'. Last I checked, the option to see the video lies in you. Blame yourself for being a coward, and not trying to make false accusations towards the best piece of emotional video material we've seen in a very, very long time.

wow. just wow. i've never been wrapped up in a trailer, let alone a VIDEO GAME TRAILER! I actually felt for this family. and to those that are "disgusted" with this game, you should know that all of that disgust, or hate, or WHATEVER you are feeling, or felt when you watched this was the INTENTION of the people that made this trailer! So again...i say GOOD JOB!
I'll be picking this up for SURE

I think this is going to be a case where the trailer is going to be the best thing we remember from this game. Seeing some clips of the gameplay around Youtube didn't give me much promise for this game.

I think it is going to be VERY difficult for the game to live up to people's expectations of the trailer.

Trailer timeline sructure is similar to Gaspar Noe's IRREVERSIBLE from 2002. Noe was able to sustain this construct for the film's length. It is possible that DEAD ISLAND - if made into a feature - could work if presented in the same timeline structure as the trailer. But the challenge would be sustaining its momentum throughout. Noe's film works in that you feel a forward momentum even though you are traveling back in time. But if the story and character development are strong enough in DEAD ISLAND, the film could be an emotionally, if not intellectually, engaging experience, particularly if the filmmakers are willing to subvert the notion that film is based on the idea of forward momentum. Flashback? No. Flashbacks are constructed as character thought. DEAD ISLAND should not be delivered from a character's point of view as a memory.

@Patrick Stokes

What you're saying is that you were looking forward to the release of a game which would - by definition - include being killed by or killing hordes of men and women turned undead but the inclusion of a little girl's story in a PROMOTIONAL CGI TRAILER shocks you so much that you forget the distinction between "videogame content" and everything else. Are you saying that you approve of mauling, mutilating and killing adults and young adults but not children? Or is it about something relatable? Perhaps you consider yourself a father but not a human being then. Either you accept that violence in zombie movies is fictional and you knowingly accept the "lore" of humans of all ages and races getting reanimated and/or violently killed, or you don't.
It is extremely unlikely for children to actually appear in the GAME and you should definitely keep your 'involuntary legislation' in your pants until you know for sure. In the meantime you can amuse yourself by watching transformed children featured as monsters in Dead Space 2, Painkiller, F.E.A.R. 2 and other excellent games. Perhaps after that you'll meditate on what is and what isn't allowed in movies and think if more or less accidental death pictured in the trailer for Dead Island is even worth a mention in your book of outrage.

Video games should be entitled to portray serious themes like this just like any medium. What games are going through now are the same hardships and cencorship movies, music, and every other kind of medium has gone through in it's beginnings. It's rediculous how we go through the same cycles. Personally I loved it. Games need to make you feel fragile like this, and also to give you a sense that the people that you're fighting with are irreplaceable. People say games can desensitize children, but part of that is because games are constantly so restrained they can't portray the true effects of a death. One of your team mates died? Oh well he'll respawn. Ran over a pedestrian? There's ten more like him on the same block. Did you see the mothers purely terrified look when her daughter got up? And the desperation on the fathers face while he was trying to protect his family? This is what games need to show. The effects of violence, not violence solely for the sake of violence.

It was a great trailer, not just a shock but a thinker. It was heartbreaking and scary. It's visual style and musical score allowed me to feel a deep emotional connection to its fictional characters and their plight. I felt sadness for the lost of the family, and also the other hotel guests, because to become what they became they lost who and what they once were. The slow reverse and the forwards were weaved together very well.

I believe people bring different baggage to viewing games, movies, real life and there is no way everybody shares the same views - but we're lucky to be able to express them freely and with civility. So, I guess for the trailer, bravo on such an evocative piece. I hope that the final products' elements match the quality and are poignant. As for opinions, to each their subjective own.

@ Jill. Are you stupid? Why are you commenting on this, if this is soo ridiculous.

The reason this is a Masterpiece and persons are exciting is that you can feel what is happening in there, feeling sadness about their great time being vanished forever, a family being destroyed by external situations, the father and daughter which had a good relationship ended in a catastrophic moment where his relationship broke with a violent instant between them.

Things like a war, a natural disaster can cause these same things in real life to innocent families. There's no reason to complain about a trailer and game who can tell a good story and make you feel strong emotions for reflecting about life.


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