The horror genre is one of the most long-lasting in the film world, and has evolved in many ways since its inception. We've seen the growth of many subgenres in the horror industry, including slashers, paranormal, found-footage and more. But the one thing that has become popular and more successful as the years have gone on is jump scares.
Jump scares nowadays have become a cheap tactic for any director to try and make a "good" horror movie, but a lot of the times, directors do know how to incorporate jump scares effectively into an already effective horror movie. With the upcoming release of The Conjuring 2, let's take a look at some of the most effective (and terrifying) jump scares in the more recent horror genre.
Before we get started, here's a look at this week's newest scare-fest, The Conjuring 2:
***THIS LIST IS IN NO ORDER. THERE ARE SPOILERS***
The Conjuring — The Daughter, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Conjuring is still at the top of my list for most terrifying horror movie ever. Director James Wan did a fantastic job of blending creepy atmosphere and jump scares to deliver a horrifying story, but this moment stood out among the rest.
As the Perron mother is trapped in the basement being terrorized by a younger entity, the eldest Perron daughter, Andrea, is trying to help her younger sister, Cindy, back to bed after she has another sleepwalking episode that causes her to bump her head continuously into the wardrobe in Andrea's room. But as Andrea puts Cindy in the bed, Cindy suddenly rises and lets out a horrified gasp, As Andrea turns to look at what Cindy is looking at, the camera zooms up on the evil witch sitting atop the wardrobe in her room, and then it jumps on Andrea. View the scene for yourself:
What makes this scene all the more terrifying is the effective use of the quick zoom-up, the good makeup and the loud shriek coming from the evil being. It's a scene that really will make you want to avoid looking at a wardrobe in your room at night.
Insidious: Chapter 3 — The Man/The Finale
In another movie packed with really good jump scares, it's hard to pick just one, so I decided to choose the two best from this film for the list.
The third entry into the very popular Insidious franchise followed psychic Elise before her encounters with the Lambert family, this time helping a young girl, Quinn who, in trying to contact her mother accidentally attracted the attention of an evil entity trying to take her life. Our first introduction to this "man" happens when Quinn was abruptly hit by a car, but the quick jump of the "man" in front of the camera was quite terrifying. Check out the jumpy scene:
What makes this scene work so well is its ability to build the audience's suspense with each quiet moment, each little sound, and each little visual tick, all leading up to the big jump scare.
The second scene was probably both the most clever and most gimmicky of the film — in the final moment, Elise calls out to her deceased husband as she goes to bed, she is disturbed when her dog starts growling at an unknown entity hiding in the corner of her room. As Elise tries to get a clear look at the entity, the infamous Lipstick-Face Demon appears behind her suddenly, ending the film. Here is the scene:
This scene is certainly a tribute to the fans of the franchise, bringing back the demon that got this terrifying movie series started. And it still terrifies, because as the camera does well to stay away from the hiding demon, we feel the need to get close to try and see what it is. That's right when they get you by throwing Lipstick-Face at you.
Grave Encounters — The Girl in the Bathroom
Grave Encounters is a lesser-known — yet cult-favorite — found-footage horror film following a paranormal research team that comes across their most intense investigation yet in an abandoned asylum, and must fight for their way out against the evil spirits haunting the place.
Now it wasn't the perfect horror film, and the found-footage gimmick is a little overdone, but it did pack quite a few terrifying moments, especially the moment when the group is looking for their team member, Matt, and come across a female spirit in the bathroom that attacks them. Here is the creepy moment:
This was a very sudden moment in the movie. Although there is always a hesitation to trust unknown people in an abandoned, reportedly haunted asylum, she does appear to just be a confused woman at first. Of course, that quickly changes when she turns around — and with good visual effects to back it up, it makes for quite the jump.
Sinister — Hide and Seek
Blumhouse Productions were on a roll in the late 2000s to early 2010s, and they kept it going in 2012 with the hit supernatural horror film Sinister. Following a family plagued by hauntings after moving into their new home and the father watching home videos of family murders, all connected by some evil spirit.
The film did well to put the focus on tense atmosphere and an overall sense of dread, but one scene did well to begin with a jump scare and continue with creepy imagery, in which ghost children haunt the father of the family in the house, disappearing right before he catches them. Here's the slowly burning, yet greatly jumpy scene:
The scene's jump scare works because even though the camera clearly seems to be setting it up, it still works in the sense that the filmmakers don't give us enough time to realize this until it's too late.
Deliver Us From Evil — Peek A Boo
Deliver Us From Evil was not a critical darling, but it was a commercial success, and it had strong horror director, Scott Derrickson, at the helm. The film did have a lot going for it, including the "real story" gimmick, the solid performances from the cast, and the overall creepy atmosphere in the film.
One of the best scenes in regards of scares was a scene towards the middle of the film, in which Sarchie finally is at home with his family for the night and decides to check on his daughter as she sleeps. He's concerned after hearing from his wife that she's been hearing scratching noises under her bed. While investigating (and seemingly finding nothing), he turns to the mirror and catches a glimpse of something terrifying. Here's the scene:
The scene works in the sense that we expect him to find something in the room, but we just don't know where (unless the trailers for the film spoiled it). The loud musical cue and the effective camera angle not only make the sudden appearance a fright for Sarchie, but also for audiences to see.
Paranormal Activity — Did You Hear That?
Look, I'm gonna say what most won't. Paranormal Activity was a good movie on first visit. It revived the found-footage horror film in a good way with great technical skills, a creepy atmosphere, and some effective jump scares.
One of the best scenes to effectively scare audience members was a moment in which the demon haunting the lead couple makes some minor noises wake them. After some minor discussion and looking towards the door, a sudden loud roar is heard, followed by a loud bang. Check out the seemingly realistic moment (Apologies for the foreign subtitles):
This scene is only terrifying if you have your volume on and at a good level. Otherwise, it's a boring moment in a movie that's half-filled with them. But, if you have everything set appropriately, the moment should get you to jump (or at least be completely creeped out) with the demonic roar already being too evil to handle, followed by the loud band and swinging chandelier.