Spooktober 22, Day 5: Five of My Favorite, Creative, Jump Scares

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Ah, the classic jump scare. When utilized correctly in the right moment of suspense, it can jolt a viewer out of their seat. However, it’s also become overused to the point where it actually detracts from the film. We want our scares to be earned, but if you have something pop out every five seconds, where’s the story, where’s the substance? It’s usually created through a symbiosis of camera and sound thrusting us into a feeling that startles and gets our heart racing. Timing is also, really, everything. So, here are some of my favorite and what I think to be some of the most memorable, jump scares:

If you haven’t seen the film I’d suggest scrolling on, wouldn’t want you to miss out on its intended scare :).

The Exorcist 3, Scissors scene

After watching this movie for the first time for my Blindspot podcast, there was one shot in particular that not only caused my stomach to leap, but also stuck with me as one of the highlights of The Exorcist 3. In a very fast shot we quickly see our perpetrator holding huge scissors walking up behind a nurse. The buildup is truly everything here as the camera doesn’t move and we watch the nurse’s station over like 40 seconds, people coming and going, doing rounds. Then, with a high shriek, this occurs and it is blood-curdling.

It Follows, Tall man

I felt I had to include at least one of the lovely ghostly jumps in the film. This one occurs when our lead’s friends arrive at the door and seemingly, nothing is behind her. Then, suddenly a very tall man walks swiftly behind her. The whole idea that someone doesn’t know something terrifying is inches from them is always alluring, but It Follows masters that.

source: RADiUS-TWC

Insidious, The Red Demon

It’s just a family chat, discussing their history and their own experiences with demons and astral travel (normal stuff) when… bam, the demon is right behind Patrick Wilson. It is one that’ll make you choke on your popcorn.

Signs, Birthday Video

One of my favorite parts of M. Night Shyamalan’s science fiction/horror films, is the clip of a birthday party on the news where an alien is witnessed. The shock and awe of that moment along with Joaquin Phoenix’s reaction, that’s epic, makes this seriously visceral. An alien in the middle of a party? Eeeeek. Jump! Run!

Sinister: Lawnmower Scene

For last year’s Spooktober I wrote about this film and its overall eerie nature, but there is one scene as Ethan Hawke‘s character watches one of the videos he’s found. We see a family through the window in the living room then it cuts to a lawnmower moving slowly over some grass at night. Until, suddenly, there’s a person on the ground before them. Not only do the visuals and sounds scare us, but Hawke jumps too.

This is tough to narrow down, but there are so many! Here are just *some* Honorable mentions: Jaws- several shark scenes, Psycho- shower scene, Basically all of The Night House, The Conjuring-Clap, The Sixth Sense- the ghost kids.

This is obviously just a drop in a large pool of film moments. What are some of your favorites?