Dir. Oren Peli

(2009, R, 86 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

Dir. Tod Williams

(2010, R, 91 min)
★ ★

In my experience, the greatest fear comes from anticipation. That’s why I’ve never responded very strongly to horror films, which are usually games of show-and-tell: A monster or knife-wielding maniac pops into the frame out of nowhere and gives you a quick jolt. I think such “Gotcha!” scenes are prevalent because filmmakers and producers know what I know: that as soon as you see the monster on the screen, it’s not scary anymore. It becomes tangible, life-sized, something you can run from or fight. And what Hollywood can whip up in its makeup, wardrobe, or special effects departments is rarely the stuff of true nightmares. Just artifice.

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