What elements make a good horror movie? An engaging story, with a dark setting, compelling characters, and most importantly, a few (or many) well-executed jump scare scenes. Jump scares can be considered the most effective approach to remind the audience that they are watching a horror flick, and get their attention. However, executing a jump scare that will make the audience hop out of their seats is not an easy task. Several variables need to be considered to catch the audience off-guard. The timing, the background music, the setting, and every tiny detail matters. That being said, here are 15 of the best jump scare scenes of all time:
15. The Sudden Emergence (Jaws)
Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Ocean Thriller, Jaws is still considered one of the best shark films. The best thing about the flick is that none of the scenes seem to overstay their welcome, but the element of fear looms over during the entire 124 minutes.
One of the most iconic jump scenes from the movie involved Martin Brody waiting to hook the shark while looking in the opposite direction. The 25-foot shark, from behind, pops out of the ocean all of a sudden, much to Brody’s (and the audience’s) surprise. It was a simple yet effective scene that got everyone’s adrenaline pumping.
14. The Wardrobe (The Conjuring)
The first installment in The Conjuring franchise is filled with some of the most intense jump scare scenes. Part of the purpose of a jump scare scene is to catch the audience by surprise. However, most of the scenes leading to a jump scare moment in the movie made it quite obvious that something big was about to go down but when something went down, nobody saw it coming.
The scene in the discussion here is the closet scene where the mother opens the wardrobe to find out the weird stuff going on, only to discover the supernatural creature on the top. The sudden reveal of the creature can give people nightmares for many days.
13. Tall Man Walking (It Follows)
One of the most simple and underrated jump scare scenes has got to be in the 2014 Psychological Thriller, “It Follows”. The story revolves around Jay, who is stalked by a supernatural being named, “It”.
The scene where Jay is being assured by her friends that everything is normal, followed by the sudden arrival of “It”, disguised as a tall man with disturbing black eyes is terrifying. The appearance of “It” followed by his surprising entry made for a scary jump moment.
12. Vomiting in the Tent (The Sixth Sense)
Sixth Sense, the movie about a young kid being able to see and communicate with the dead, was a sleeper hit. The ending of the movie alone was enough to classify it as a masterpiece. Despite not being a full-fledged horror flick, the movie was filled with a few jump scares here and there.
One such scene featured Cole in a tent feeling the presence of a being, when all of a sudden, an apparition of a young girl vomiting appears behind him. It was a short and sweet jump-scare moment that no one saw coming.
11. The Projector Scene (IT)
Based on Stephen King’s highly acclaimed novel, IT emerged as a smashing hit. The story about a killer clown hunting down kids, once every 27 years was a challenging concept to make a film about. However, Andy Muschietti did an excellent job.
One of the most shocking scenes of the movie was when the kids were studying details about Pennywise the clown, through a projector. All of a sudden, the projector started controlling itself, making the lights go on and off, with the sudden emergence of a giant Pennywise. The few seconds scene were enough to fasten the heartbeats of many.
10. The Running Girl (Annabelle)
The Conjuring spin-off had a decent story. The film was great for a one-time watch. Several scenes in the movie would make you wish that you weren’t watching them alone.
One such scene was when the little girl, running towards a room with the door partially closed, transformed into an adult supernatural being upon entering the room. The reason why such a scary scene is so high up on this list is due to it being shown in the trailer, which took away its high shock value.
9. The Bathing Ghost (Jessabelle)
The 2014 horror flick revolved around Jessabelle being haunted by a long-tormented spirit anticipating her arrival at her childhood home. Although the movie didn’t score big numbers at the Box Office, it had some out-of-the-blue scare scenes.
The most talked-about scene is the Bathtub scene where Jessabelle is seen resting in the bathtub with her eyes closed. The lights go out all of a sudden and the spirit is then seen sitting in the pool in front of the protagonist. Although something fishy was expected as soon as the lights went out, the sudden appearance of the spirit was an extremely shocking moment.
8. Inside the Closet (The Ring)
The Ring emerged as a cult classic and is still watched to this day. As if the story about an unseen force killing the person seven days after they watch a cursed videotape, wasn’t scary enough, the film includes a few jump scare scenes too!
One such scene featured Ruth (mother of the victim, Katie) urging her sister Rachel to investigate her daughter’s death. The scene, which is quite emotional and slow, then suddenly pans to the moment when Ruth discovers Katie’s vandalized corpse in a closet. The scene was unexpected and served its purpose well.
7. Jason Surfaces (Friday the 13th)
Jason Voorhees wasn’t the main character of the original Friday the 13th movie. In the first film of the franchise, his mother, Pamela was seen hunting down camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake as her son drowned due to the negligence of counselors who were supposed to look at him.
One of the final scenes of the film featured Alice, the only surviving member of her crew, sleeping on a canoe in the middle of the lake, waiting to be rescued when a disfigured Jason emerges from the ocean and takes Alice down with her. Although it was a nightmare scene, it was highly unexpected.
6. The Painting Scene (The Conjuring 2)
The sequel to the highly acclaimed, “The Conjuring” was a horrifying film in its own right. The film was packed with nightmare-inducing supernatural creatures. To top it all, the jump scare scenes were among some of the creepiest ones.
We are talking about the painting scene, where Lorraine follows the apparition of Nun Valak into Ed’s study where a painting of her can be seen. Soon, the windows and door get locked while a shadow slowly walks toward the portrait of Valak and immediately attacks Lorraine, once it aligns with the frame. The scene, despite the slow build, managed to catch everyone off-guard.
5. Dance With Me (Evil Dead II)
Although many people consider the Evil Dead franchise cheesier than horror, that doesn’t mean it lacks scenes that can make you genuinely frightened.
The scene in Evil Dead II where Ash witnesses the corpse of Linda dancing in the forest, from the window, followed by her disappearing, and then suddenly emerging right outside the window and grabbing Ash, was one of those scenes.
4. The Red Demon (Insidious)
At this stage, we should just accept that James Wan is the best horror movie director of this era. The first installment in the Insidious franchise was a total package with a captivatingly dark tone and unexpected jump-scare scenes.
When Josh’s mother, Lorraine visits him and tells him about a dream she had regarding a supernatural entity and its obsession with Josh’s son, Dalton, she notices a red-faced demon standing behind Josh. What makes this scene so scary is the setting and direction, where nobody could have seen the jumpy moment coming.
3. Beheading (The Exorcist III)
It’s quite surprising that one of the scariest jump scare scenes comes from a movie that wasn’t even the best one of its franchise.
The third installment in The Exorcist film series featured a heart-stopping moment when a nurse, doing her rounds during a night shift, was unknowingly been followed by a figure in a white robe with garden clippers, as soon as she came out of one of the rooms. The setting was quite disturbing, due to the scene being shot from a fairly long distance. In addition to that, the music played upon the creature’s arrival does full justice to the scene.
2. The Bed Scene (Drag Me to Hell)
One of the most horrifying scenes involved the main character, Christine getting interrupted in her sleep due to a housefly entering her mouth. She looks around for a while before going back to sleep when she sees the ghost of Sylvia Ganush lying right next to her. Chances are if that scene didn’t make you jump, very few will.
1. Surprise! (Sinister)
Topping this list is a highly surprising and uncalled-for scene from the first Sinister film. The scene was brief and served its purpose of scaring the audience, in the most excellent way imaginable.
Just when everyone seemed to think that the film was over, a creepy creature popped out of the blue, right in front of the lens. This scene proved why an effective jump scare doesn’t need to look fancy or require overdoing it.
Do you agree with our list of the best jump scare scenes of all time? Have an even better jump scare moment in mind? Sound off in the comments section and let us know!