I'll cover my eyes next time.

I just saw the trailer for
District 9 for the first time. And let me preface this by saying I am chomping at the bit to see this flick. Peter Jackson? Aliens? Signs that say "No Humans Allowed"? Sounds like my kind of date night. So, here I am, hunched forward in anticipation, my hungry eyes feasting on every image, and then, wouldn't you know it, the cardinal monster-movie trailer sin, in my humble opinion: full-blown footage of the creature. And not just of the creature, but how it communicates, how it moves. Why, oh, why does Hollywood do this? I want to be teased! Terrorized! Played to! But by giving up the goods so easily I don't even have to ask, the best part of scary stuff—the unknown—is, well, known. Are trailers spoilers? Duh. But that doesn't mean spoil the best part.

I can't imagine how many horror movie trailers I've seen in my life. We'll go with "a lot." But, and ridicule me if you must, two of the most intriguing, don't-make-me-watch-them-alone trailers (as I'm typing this, I'm also looking over my shoulder. kjl'af. oops. see?) I've seen are 2002's Signs and last year's Cloverfield. Give them a watch. Notice something missing? Ah. The creatures. 

Signs, apart from the end, which I really hated—you know, the part where the alien holds the asthmatic son in his arms—was so fantastically spooky. It flirted with us, lips thisclose, but never gave in to the kiss. (I've posted a scene from Signs below, which goes in my top 10 all-time of scary crap. It's so subtle and quick it's terrifying). And in Cloverfield, how much real face time did we get with the monster? Not much at all. In both movies, we knew something wicked this way comes, but which way? Over there? Over here? Is it on the roof, or in the back seat? Above all, what exactly is it? To me, that's scary.

I walked into those theaters having no idea what to expect. And they delivered in that sense. Think about it—If you're hiding in a dark corner, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting passerby for a laugh, do you wave a white flag first, poke your head out and say, 'Oh, here I am! Hi! I'm about to scare you!' Um, no.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I realize District 9 is a alien movie that goes way beyond an alien movie. We're talking metaphors for all kinds of political fodder: Immigrants. Gitmo. Oppression. Slavery. I get that. And I also get that horror films are much more than the monsters that propel them. Sometimes it's the small, unexpected spooks that have nothing to do with the monster that trickle ice water down your spine. 

But really, what's the gimmick, the draw at the heart of District 9? Aliens. Now, instead of squirming in my seat, heart thudding, eyes frantically combing every angle, searching in the dark corners and alleys for the thing that's gonna scare me more than the thought of how much cash i spent to see it in the first place, I kind of don't care. 

Am I still in on District 9? I'd be lying if I said otherwise.  But am I disappointed that what's behind door No. 1 has already been revealed? Sure am. Lucky for me, though,  it's a horror film. There's a door No. 2, No. 3, even No. 10. Here's hoping the consolation prize still keeps me up at night. — amy kates