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Smart scares for smart people

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By now, filmmakers and game designers have jump-scares down to a science. All it takes to really startle an audience is a combination of unsettling music, a protagonist or avatar creeping up on something they probably shouldn’t approach, and a big blare of sound and something moving rapidly at the screen. The formula works just about every time, to the point where a painfully clunky horror movie like Rings can get away with startling audiences just by having an umbrella open up on-screen really, really loudly.

But good horror — the kind that gets in under the skin and really sticks with you over time — usually has a psychological element, some kind of hook that plays to real, personal fears. The best horror is intelligently constructed,…

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