Jump scares get a bad rap amongst most horror fans. They have become overused and a cheap scare tactic, using loud noises or someone-grabs-the-protagonist-and-you-think-it’s-the-killer-but-it’s-actually-the-best-friend style fake outs to up the tension rather than actually creating a decent atmosphere. However, it can be done very well, and actually add to the tension of a film. Here are ten examples. I’ve added videos where I can, and just so you know, they will include minor spoilers for the films, so if you haven’t seen them and don’t want to see a good scare coming, don’t watch the vids.
1. The Exorcist 3: the nurse station
Don’t bother with the direct sequel and skip straight to the highly superior Exorcist 3: Legion. This scene is amazing because it goes on for so long with nothing happening, and there’s no reason to fear anything but you know that something’s going to happen nonetheless, and then BOOM. Awesome.
2. Shutter: the car ambush
(The relevant scene is at the beginning of this video). This incredibly creepy Thai horror has plenty of scary moments. In this instance, a young man realises that he and his girlfriend are being pursued in their car by a ghost. He speeds up and thinks they’ve escaped and then she suddenly appears on the front of the car. Ugh.
3. Sinister: the lawnmower
I thought the scariest parts of this film were the found footage videos, and this was definitely the worst.
4. The Eye – classroom ghost
The film had relied on slow-paced, creeping horror until this moment, when the protagonist is confronted by a ghost who really doesn’t like anyone sitting in her chair.
5. House on Haunted Hill – scary old lady
This film is silly and fun, and this part makes no sense considering what transpires later, but that old lady is fucking creepy.
6. Insidious – ghost outside the window
You think he’s on the balcony outside, and then BAM he’s in the room
7. Mulholland Drive – dumpster monster
There’s a special place in hell for David Lynch because of this scene. There’s really no reason for it other than to cause eternal trauma to anyone who sees it.
8. Se7en – Sloth
OH GOD HE’S STILL ALIVE
9. Suspiria – window ambush
You know that something’s going to happen, but it’s still a shock when the arm comes through the window.
10. Marble Hornets
To be fair, all of the Marble Hornets series are good for effective jump scares, but this installment was the only one that actually made me scream at my laptop. Which is why I watch Marble Hornets alone.