An intriguing first trailer for Netflix’s forthcoming series 13 Reasons Why has been released, demonstrating that a good teaser can accomplish multitudes with minimal resources.
When the trailer begins, we see a teenage girl, standing with her back to a row of lockers. “I’m about to tell you the story of my life,” a voice—presumably hers—narrates in voiceover. “Specifically, how my life ended.” As far as opening lines go, this one hits pretty hard, but the real power lies in the details. For one thing, the girl is looking straight at the camera, as if she were recounting her story to us, the viewers. Her gaze is confrontational, confessional and completely off-putting.
For another, there is the fact that, though we see the girl in the trailer, she is actually dead in 13 Reasons Why. A quick glance at the synopsis reveals that this girl, named Hannah, had committed suicide two weeks before the story proper. The sound of her voice that we hear in the trailer comes from a series of mysterious recordings that was meant for the ears of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette of Don’t Breathe), her classmate and the show’s protagonist. In other words, Hannah isn’t alive during the show, a fact that lends her appearance in the trailer an eerie, spectral quality.
The thrust of the story of 13 Reasons Why and the inspiration for the show’s title lies in the content of Hannah’s recordings, which single out 13 reasons why she killed herself. As the trailer makes clear, these reasons involve specific people, and in another artful move, the teaser arrays the characters in front of the same set of lockers as if they were suspects in a police lineup. As the camera tracks sideways with and the teaser intermittently cuts to individual faces, various voiceovers fade in and out, foretelling a confluence of testimonies in which it is difficult to distinguish truth from lie.
Watch the full teaser above, which gives off Gone Girl vibes in the plot point of a female character who controls events from a place of notable absence. 13 Reasons Why, which is based on Jay Asher’s New York Times-bestselling young adult novel, is directed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy and executive produced by Selena Gomez. The show will be debuting on Netflix on March 31.