I’ve kinda had Dead Space on the mind ever since I read the news that EA had decided to shutter Visceral Games. I don’t have any tricks, treats or feats to share on it, but I noticed something rather cool about the game’s very first trailer from E3 2008. So to start things off, lets take a quick look at that trailer.
(video from YouTube channel: xDrJx)
The reason this trailer made such a strong impression all those years ago is the contrast it presents to the viewer. It’s simultaneously quiet and horrifying. It’s slow movements in empty spaces contrasted with quick cuts of intense violence and horrible abominations. It makes for very powerful imagery that is quick to recall and slow to fade, but what really brings it all home is the rendition of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” whispered throughout the video. On the surface, it seems to be the ol’ horror movie cliche of playing some children’s music over something scary to inspire an even greater feeling of foreboding in the viewer. However, there’s actually a few layers here.
The first layer is rather obvious. Dead Space is a sci-fi game that takes place in deep space, and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is about a star, an object located in deep space. The second layer takes a little bit of thought though, and it really only occurred to me recently. As I said, this trailer is founded upon contrast and juxtaposition. It’s calm and quiet vs. loud and violent in the visual. It’s warm and soothing vs. cold and terrifying in the audio. The last level of contrast is one of perception, of fantasy vs. reality.
“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is a warm and hopeful song; it is a lullaby after all. It speaks of a benevolent unknown. One that kindly provides light to the weary traveler and guides them along their path in the dark. In the world of Dead Space however, the unknown is anything but benevolent. Throughout the trailer and each of the games, the lesson impressed upon the viewer is that the unknown is malevolent; it’s something to be feared rather than warmly embraced. There is a reason that the heavens are empty in the world of Dead Space, and it’s still lurking in the inky blackness between the stars. What’s more, whatever it is, it is coming. It is hungry. It is most certainly there.
What’s your take on this trailer? Any insights of your own? Notice anything interesting in another trailer?