There is something quite strange about watching horror movies as we literally watch them to experience a generally negative emotion, fear. But for decades and decades, fateful movie go-ers have lined the theatres to catch the newest horror flick.
Within those horror flicks, there exists on particular scare that is unlike any other, the jump scare. Whether it is a loud noise, a fast movement or sudden camera change, the jump scare is one that has haunted and scared movie watchers for years.
So read on and check out 10 of the best movie moments that made you jump. But beware; this article contains a number of spoilers.
This is one of the weirder moments on this list and comes from the Japanese classic, Audition. Through the first half of the movie, it seems to just be a strange film about a man trying to find true love, and then the bag scene happens. The scene is framed perfectly as a bag is randomly set in the back of the room throughout the scene. However, once the phone in the room rings, the large bag suddenly flies across the room while making a strange, guttural, almost human-like noise. It is not until later in the film that we realize that the bag actually contained a man who has numerous body parts removed.
9. The Thing
This scene and moment are scary, no doubt, but to truly get the real effect, you need to watch the entire movie. This is because the director, John Carpenter, increases the tension in the film as it goes on by instilling a sort of “permanent state of paranoia” in each of the characters which makes them unable to trust anyone, as they could be potentially infected by the thing. This scene contains a character trying to revive another character with a defibrillator and as he is trying to revive him, the fallen characters stomach opens, revealing teeth that bite the man’s arms right off. The director does a good job of lulling the watcher to sleep, so no one saw this coming.
8. Mulholland Drive
Though Mulholland Drive isn’t your typical horror movie, it still has a scene in it that would even scare a seasoned horror veteran. The scene begins with two men inside of a diner, discussing a nightmare that one of them had. The nightmare was about a horrific figure that sits in wait behind the diner. For some reason, the men slowly go to check it out. This scare was different than most on this list because everyone knew a scare was coming, but the climax of the scene still had the power to cause people to jump out of their seats, in a way that is often reserved for jump scares that rely on surprise.
It’s fitting that the movie Seven comes in at number seven on this list. This film is a classic detective movie that stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as two detectives to work on a case involving a serial killer. In the scene, they find an emaciated corpse tied down to a bed with the word “sloth” written across the wall. As they look around the scene, they find pictures that identify that the corpse has been there a year and has been deteriorating badly. Once they get closer to the corpse, it begins to move and the detective investigating it shoots back in terror once he realizes the corpse is still alive. It is later revealed that the corpse had been intentionally kept alive by the serial killer.
6. Exorcist 3
The scene is quite different than most on this list as it is shot from quite a long distance away. This choice of shooting it from a distance is extremely effective as it gives a sense of safety for the viewer throughout the scene. The scene follows a nurse going about her day in the hospital, with a police officer standing guard. Then, right as the director has relaxed the viewer and instilled a sense of safety, a white-robed figure appears with shears and goes at the nurse’s neck. Nobody saw this coming as the entire scene helped relax the viewer with the long distance and police officer present.
Carrie is one of the more disturbing movies on this list and its final scene contains one of the worst jump scares in movie history. Following the prom, Carrie kills herself and her mother in a violent rage. The movie subsequently cuts to the only survivor from the prom, who is having a dream that she is visiting the lot where Carrie’s house used to be. Next, as a girl goes to put flowers on Carrie’s grave, Carrie’s blood-soaked hand rises from the grave and grabs her by the wrist. The film then ends with the lone survivor freaking out in her bedroom because of the dream. The dream-like atmosphere of this final scene lulls the watcher into a false sense of security as the film closes.
4. The Shining
The Shining is one of the most highly-acclaimed horror movies of all time, so it is no surprise that it also contains one of the most memorable scenes and jump scares in movie history as well. In this scene, little Danny is riding his big wheel through an eerie hotel and suddenly stops in his tracks and is face to face with the ghosts of the Grady twins. And if that wasn’t scary enough, the director then makes quick and periodic cuts to show the corpses of the two girls after they were murdered with an axe. Everything comes together in this scene perfectly, including the acting, the camera shot and the music.
3. The Ring
Okay now this jump scare was just plain mean and cheap, but is one of the scariest in history. There is no conceivable way that anyone saw this coming when they sat down to watch this movie for the first time. The scare here isn’t even a result of the quiet conversation followed by a loud noise, it’s completely what we see. What we see, the image of the mangled face curled up in the closet, is without a doubt what makes us jump following this scene. This scene sticks with you, as it makes you never really feel safe for the remainder of the movie because you know that something can jump out at you at any time during the film.
This one might surprise some readers, but this is a terrifyingly startling scene that offers up a very different jump scare than what is normal. Most jump scares rely on the “what” or the “where” when going for the jump scare. They focus too much on the creation of the jump scare, and not the scenes and frames leading up to it. That is why the “Lawnmower scene” in Sinister gets it right. The scene toys with us as we know exactly what is going to happen, but the anticipation of “when” it will happen is what kills us. By this point in the movie, we know the lawnmower is the killer’s preferred method of killing, but we have no clue exactly when it will occur until it is too late to turn away.
Coming in at number one on this list is a jump scare that literally comes out of nowhere, and is one of the only scenes we have seen that scares almost anyone that sees it. The scene contains a conversation between Josh Lambert and his mother about the terrifying visitations harassing the Lambert family. In the conversation, she recounts a dream about the visitor. The scene contains a back and forth between terrifying scenes from her dream and their real conversation at the table. Then, out of nowhere, a frightening red figure appears behind Josh’s head accompanied by a loud bang. This scene was so masterful because the director had the viewers convinced that the flashbacks were dangerous and the real world was safe, boy how wrong were we!