If you haven't seen The Disappearance of Alice Creed, now playing at a theater near you, and would like to: don't watch the trailer. I'm serious.

It's axiomatic that trailers give away too much. I remember Robert Zemeckis causing an uproar -- back when he was still making movies with actual plots to give away -- by announcing that his trailers spoiled his movies because audiences wanted them spoiled. Sometimes the result is just annoyance; other times it's clear that the motivating force is desperation. If you've got a movie with five decent jokes, your only hope is to shove them in the trailer. The movie sucks anyway, so no harm done (unless you count the poor saps who were fooled into paying to see it).

Then there are the invidious instances of trailers cut by people who clearly have no understanding of what makes the actual film tick. Such is the case with the trailer (watch at your own risk!) for Alice Creed, a clever, thoroughly decent British kidnapping thriller making the stateside limited release rounds as I write this. Its indie distributors meant well, I'm sure, but they end up with a textbook case of a trailer that brutalizes the movie it's hawking. It's a what-not-to-do lesson in movie advertising.