Everyone should sleep with one eye open until the fall, because Blake Lively's new trailer for A Simple Favor has some serious Gone Girl vibes. Everything from the footage itself, to the way that it was released, have made it impossible to tell who's good and who's bad in the film, just like the Gillian Flynn-penned predecessor. (A Simple Favor is also based on a book — a novel by Darcey Bell of the same name.)
Both on and offscreen, Lively is already doing everything she can to unnerve fans in advance of the project's Sept. 14 release. Apparently not content with the usual promotional activities, on May 1, the actor deleted her entire Instagram library and profile photo, and unfollowed everyone except for 28 women who share the same name as her Simple Favor character. She changed her bio to, "What happened to Emily?..." And on May 2, her first post back was a trailer for the upcoming film, which is currently the only thing in her feed.
Not to speak for Gone Girl's lead character Amy Elliott-Dunne, since bad things tend to happen to people who predict her behavior, but it's safe to say she'd be doing a gentle golf clap for all the drama she's seen stirred up so far. After all, Lively even unfollowed her husband Ryan Reynolds, which the Gone Girl protagonist likely would've done to her own husband Nick Dunne in a second if she thought it would stir up suspicion. Cue the goosebumps.
But the comparisons to Gone Girl don't stop there; even the plot seems to bear traces of Flynn's handiwork. Lively stars as Emily Nelson, who suddenly vanishes without a trace from her town, where she'd seemed so happy. She leaves behind a husband, played by Henry Golding of Crazy Rich Asians, and a best friend Stephanie, played by Anna Kendrick, who has to pick up the pieces of her disappearance.
Kendick begins the trailer in a voiceover, telling the listener, "I do consider Emily my best friend. She’s this wonderful, elegant person." The footage shows Lively in happier times, making martinis or emerging from a car to strut smolderingly toward the camera, always dressed immaculately and looking perfectly happy.
It's Kendrick whose character seems a bit more suspicious, continuing her voiceover with, "Everybody has a dark side; some of us are better at hiding it than others," as she walks through a closet, trailing her fingers over the luxurious fabrics and expensive-looking pieces she finds there. Did the 32-year-old do something to her friend? But then the trailer launches into a whirlwind of images that include Lively cocking a gun and Kendrick screaming, and that end with Kendrick imploring the listener:
"Five days ago, Emily went missing. I’m realizing I don’t know her as well as I thought I did. Emily, if you’re out there — we’re all really worried."
Just watching the trailer leaves behind an eerie, slippery sensation like you can't put your finger on exactly what's going on or who you can trust, very much echoing the cat-and-mouse-play of the relationship between Amy and Nick. Even the film's tagline — "What happened to Emily?" — is serving up that Gone Girl realness. It brings to mind Rosamund Pike's innocent-looking face smiling out from all of those missing posters, before the true nature of her character is revealed.
Lively and Kendrick are similarly innocent-looking, and if this was any other movie, it would be easy to peg either one of them as the protagonist. But in the wake of this first trailer, the roles of protagonist and villain are still very much open, with no one clearly inhabiting either one. Is Emily Nelson the pursued or the pursuer, and whose side is Stephanie on? Does she want to find her friend, or is she part of the reason she's missing in the first place.
Hopefully, more will be revealed soon, because all of this creepiness on Instagram and in the trailer alike is just too much to take.