Capturing horror themes
The Watson trailer for Morgan succeeds in identifying the aesthetic and thematic motifs of the film, as well as the emotional charges that underpin them. For example, it references a trope of the horror genre made familiar by films such as The Exorcist (1974) and The Omen (1976), which dispels the presumed innocence of children. In the Watson trailer we see this represented with images of Morgan’s first birthday contrasted with images of bloody violence. Meanwhile, the use of lines of dialogue such as "I have to say goodbye to mother” is clearly based on the supercomputer’s ability to identify Freudian themes from well known examples in the horror genre, most notably Psycho (1960).
What Watson doesn’t do is give viewers a clear understanding of the story (or provide any of the other historical functions of Hollywood trailers). The difference becomes obvious if you compare the Watson-made trailer to with the film’s “official” (human-made) clip, which reveals three narrative threads to the storyline, as well as using many of the stock motifs identified by Watson.
By showing clips of three different parts of the story, the official trailer creates a series of enigmatic questions to arouse the viewers’ interest. What is kept behind the scratched glass wall? What kind of creature is the titular artificial being Morgan? Will the danger implied by the images of death be contained?
The Watson trailer doesn’t manage such a sophisticated retelling of the story. Based on its analysis of horror movie trailers, the supercomputer has created a striking visual and aural collage with a remarkably perceptive selection of images. But the official trailer is more than a random collection of visual and sound motifs. It is a film about the film, and is structured to communicate with its intended viewership by using a gift that the supercomputer doesn’t yet possess – the gift of narrative.