A fearbyte is a short section of a film, probably 5-15 seconds that is as chock full of "scary" imagery and loud noises as possible. The fearbyte scares the pants off the viewer and as soon as it is over, it is forgotten as the viewer clutches their chest and smiles. It's a surprise. It's a GOTCHA! moment and the problem with the fearbyte is it doesn't stick. When it's over it's done and when the film ends you go out, have a beer, and forget about the movie for the rest of the night. Maybe you laugh and say "That was real crazy when the monster jumped out of the closet, scared the shit out of me." but you're doing exactly that. You're laughing. It didn't make you think and it left no lasting impression of fear on you. A romantic movie might leave you filled with emotions of longing and hopeful romance if you're single or might provide a spark for passion if you're not. A sad film might leave you depressed about the human condition or the plight of the individual struggle. But these are lasting emotions, catalysts for deeper though about ones life and place in the world, and the modern horror film fails to leave this impression.
Fearbytes do, however, make for very appealing trailers. An intense trailer full of fearbytes means you get people to sit in the theater. Imagine making a trailer for Onibaba that would appeal to a modern audience. Or Audition. Or Hitchcock's "Rope". Compare that to something like Insidious or Drag Me To Hell.
I can't remember the last time a horror film, particularly a western horror film, made me feel real physical tension as I wondered what would happen next. I can't remember the last film that made me think about the role of fear in human emotion, the meaning of death, or the darker elements of human nature that are often represented symbolically by monsters, killers, and other various haunting events.
A good horror film is paced with subtlety and tension and it leaves you thinking and wary of any little noise that occurs in the dark. It reminds you that the world isn't as nice or as safe as we sometimes think and of our own mortality. Or perhaps it shows us an uglier side of ourselves that we have avoided confronting for some time. Fearbytes are entertaining but they don't produce films worth talking about. In fact, a horror movie need not have an incredibly terrifying climax at all. While most do, it is sometimes the case that our own imaginations can invent horrors much worse than could ever be portrayed on a screen.