The jump scare is an art itself. The masterful way in which a scene can transform from calm and tranquil into terrifying and tense. Few films have truly perfected the use of a jump scare, but when used successfully, your heart is guaranteed to skip a few beats. From films as early as Carrie to the recent films such as Insidious, the jump scare has been held close to the hearts of horror fanatics for decades. As you can guess, this list contains massive spoilers. You’ve been warned!
Friday the 13th
There are actually several jump scares dotted about the entire franchise and the 2009 remake, so I’ve simply included a couple of the best/biggest jump scares you didn’t see coming. In the now iconic ending of Friday The 13th (1980), we discovered that the deranged Pamela Voorhees’ son Jason is very much alive and ready to strike. From a tranquil float across Crystal Lake in a canoe, we’re suddenly shocked by the decomposed Jason bursting from the water in what could be the most shocking jump scare of all time. In the 2009 (and now wrongly slated) remake of the original film, jump scares are in such abundance that the entire duration of film will leave you cowering behind cushions. Again, right at the end, Jason emerges from the Crystal Lake and announces rather spectacularly that he is back and ready for vengeance.
Could this be the most famous jump scare of all time? Carrie White is the tortured teen who simply wanted to feel beautiful for one night and to enjoy her prom like most teenage girls do. What could go wrong? Everything. After a spiteful attempt at sabotaging Carrie’s night, she’s drenched with pig blood, which is the catalyst for the ensuing massacre and chaos. Inevitably, the telekinetic Carrie dies not long after her rampage. Or does she? When having her grave visited, we are caused to jump from our seats as Carrie’s arm lunges from her grave and grabs her grave’s attendants. Even today, people still fear graveyards as a result of this scene. Good job, Stephen King!
Whoever thought that watching Alien would be more terrifying than being in the tunnel with the Xenomorph? We all knew it was coming at some point, but nobody expected the Xenomorph to appear in such a manner. Searching through the vents of the ship, Dallas attempts to escape the antagonist by climbing down the vents, only to find out he has ran straight into her snare. If you ever somehow end up in an air vent, remember to avoid any aliens. It’ll not give you good results.
How could little girls be so scary? Watch The Ring (2002) and you’ll know exactly why. If you’re watching a film which is centered on a videotape which kills you 7 days after viewing, you know you’re in for a rough ride from the get-go. After watching the tape 7 days previously, protagonist Noah knows his time is up when the long-haired Samara emerges from his TV. “That wasn’t so bad”, you may say to yourself. Wrong. Just wait until his body is discovered and you’ll know the meaning of a rude awakening. Your poor heart.
POV handheld footage horrors have been considered a poor trend in the realm of horrors, but [REC] is a rare example of a found footage horror which breaks this reputation and fuelled a new wave of films of the genre. In the final minutes of the film, the camera is taken up into the attic of the house of horrors, which we know from experience of horror films is a huge mistake. Seemingly out of nowhere, a screaming and bloodied infant attacks the camera and swiftly doubles your heart rate.
Before even reading this section of the article, you know exactly which scene to which I refer. One of the finest, most shocking and most devastating scenes of the film involved the brutal slaughter of a major protagonist in the film, being Hallorann, the gentle soul who helps Danny to understand how to “shine”. After travelling for hours through a blizzard to aid the Torrances at the Overlook Hotel, Hallorann nervously walks the foyer of the hotel only to have an axe viciously plunged deep into his chest by the delusional Jack Torrance, the writer gone psychopath. It’s rare that you truly feel sadness for the death of a character, but Hallorann remains in the hearts of horror buffs as one of the saddest characters in horror history.
The Woman In Black (2012)
Wrongly criticised from straying from the source book, The Woman In Black remake starring Daniel Radcliffe is certainly the most terrifying 12A (PG-13) rated film to be available. With bigger jump scares than most films, The Woman In Black is laden with unpredictable twists and turns. From a crow bursting out from a fireplace to a young girl vomiting blood to a screaming ghost in the window, The Woman In Black is truly a rollercoaster of heart attacks and emotionally charged scenes. Just remember to keep the lights on after watching.
The Exorcist III
By far the least well known movie from this list, The Exorcist III provides us with one of the most iconic jump scares that nobody saw coming. Hospitals are always scary places and that’s without murderous ghoulish figures pursuing you. If you watch the buildup to this scene, you’ll truly know what deafening silence means…
…before the silence is brought to an immediate stop by the emergence of a ghoulish figure chasing a lone nurse across the corridor she’s working on.
These are simply a few of the biggest horror jump scares which you didn’t see coming, however there are plenty of others out there which are perfectly suitable if you’re wishing to scare yourself silly. After all, horrors are supposed to shock and scare us, are they not? If you’re brave, grab a friend, make some popcorn and ensure you’re comfortable as you feast your eyes to the beauties on this list. What’s the biggest horror jump scare which you didn’t see coming?