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Posterized February 2016: ‘The Witch,’ ‘Hail, Caesar!,’ ‘Triple 9,’ and More

Written by on February 4, 2016 

Fascinating faces

In all honesty, nothing about Kustom Creative‘s poster for Misconduct (opens February 5) is fascinating. I included it here because I wanted to compare it with BLT’s Devil’s Advocate. They are spitting images of each other besides Anthony Hopkins throwing the numbers out of whack.

Ambition surely is deadly when you have Al Pacino as a mentor/boss—that’s what I’ve learned from both. I’m just waiting for the twist where we find out Josh Duhamel is Divergent. That’s why the title is coming apart diagonally, right?

And now the fascinating fare:

First up is Regression (limited February 5). Designed by User T38, I’m a fan of the close-ups of Emma Watson and Ethan Hawke. They are super high resolution to the point of seeing the liquid in their eyes and both crops assist in the sense of mystery and dread of the horror. The text is minimized to top and bottom and the title doesn’t overpower us. Instead it fades at the edges like a passing thought so our attention can get back to the faces above.

They aren’t the only good ones in the campaign, though. (Some are actually pretty lame if you check them all out online.) The Spanish tease is quite effective too with its upside cross of red in the rundown barn’s façade. Coupled with the gray foreboding of its coloring—as well as the interesting vantage point putting us in the scene looking through a window—and it one-ups similar poster for Devil in 2010.

Next is P+A‘s Race (opens February 19). There’s a lot to like here—some of it stuff I feel like I shouldn’t. Just look at that title icon with the runner cut into the word. The kerning is extra tight and the position of the silhouette is manipulated to fit in the leg of the “A,” but I don’t actually mind any of it.

This could be because it’s a nice graphic counterpart to the photography of the rest. The same goes for the actor names at top. They’re super dark black and bold despite being thinner than they could be to still pop everything above the hazy, vintage, period aesthetic. And that’s perfectly depicted itself as though a newspaper clipping from the 1940s. You can’t say anything bad about the cool pose either, hand hiding half of Stephan James‘ face as he readies to dart our direction.

Last but definitely not least is the stunning international poster for Remember (limited February 12). It’s like Gravillis Inc.‘s Time Out of Mind from last year, but even better because Christopher Plummer is interacting with the watery/glassy field blocking him from sight.

The coloring gives it a pastel/oil paint quality almost like the thing is a finger painted masterpiece of expressionistic bliss. The darkness is just enough to pop the simple, white title out and the emotion is overpowering. You can feel his hand grasping out at a memory only to have his mind stop it just short.

It’s light years ahead of bpg‘s work on their faux cut-in-half diptych with bottom at top and top at bottom (they don’t line up) as well as their minimalistic to the point of amateurish black silhouette. At least the former contains some nice intent with the monochrome, grainy photography. The latter is merely a hastily made image as though done overnight to make a deadline.

More than their actors

Including Leroy and Rose‘s Eddie the Eagle (opens February 26) in this section may be misleading since actors are very much in view, but they aren’t the whole concept. Both Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman are small and in profile so the act of what’s happening proves more important. This is a key distinction and one most posters ignore by putting a face front and center as though it supercedes the story. It doesn’t.

It’s a cool composition with the van cropped off the bottom edge and Egerton gaining some velocity by coming into frame from the right. The giant title is interesting too besides the extra line to put “From the Producers of Kingsman“. I don’t think anyone who went to see Kingsman is automatically going to be interested in a true-life story about a kid who became an Olympian despite no one believing he could. It also convolutes the title into being “Eddie the from producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service Eagle”. That is confusing visually.

The second sheet pales in comparison. It’s supposed to be as though from Eddie’s vantage watching his shadow on the snow below, but the effect doesn’t quite work. Instead it feels like a spectral figure is standing up to face us. I do appreciate the old school 80s vibe with the title, though.

Gravillis Inc.’s Southbound (limited February 5) is different because it gives no sense of what you’re about to see besides mood. There are no characters or realistic events depicted. It’s completely conceptual: bold and succinct in telling a tale of evil’s hold and its refusal to let go.

There’s not much else to say except for kudos to the illustrator for a captivating hybrid image of road trip and devilish interference. I like the font too—sharp and flowing like a demon tale slinking about to cut you when you least expect it.

For Rolling Papers (limited/VOD February 19), the full image is less impressive than the effect used to deliver it. The whole melding full newspaper mastheads into the joint is too awkward and unrealistic considering the rest of the piece is so minimal. I’m not sure how they could put those text blurbs in otherwise, but the way it is now is distracting.

The rest, though, is pretty great. I love the double exposure mimicking a printing press’ registration being just off. Doing so gives it a blurring effect despite everything actually being crisp when split apart. The smoke even shimmers a bit as a result. And no one can ignore that yellow on a theater wall. No one.

But while each of those above has merit, the true standout this month is Gravillis Inc.’s work on A24’s The Witch (opens February 19). Talk about not needing actors: why can’t a crow, rabbit, and ram be used instead?

The best part of this series is how evil they look while retaining a sense of biological verisimilitude. These things could have easily fallen into cartoon caricature, but they exude malice instead—something the poster with a human does not. That one portrays what seems to be the mystery of adventure like in a fantasy such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. If she weren’t naked I’d wonder if it may be a film targeted at a younger audience that it actually is.

What all four have in common that cannot be dismissed is their great use of typography. That italicized, period-specific font is inspired and I love the break between both halves of the “W”. The print is crudely edged as though done with inferior equipment to give it even more of a sense of place in 1630 New England. And it also injects an increased creepy factor too. I can’t wait to see this one.

What is your favorite February release poster? What could have used a rework?

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