This weeks sees the release of not one but two horror sequels, with the franchise-ending Resident Evil: The Final Chapter saying goodbye to Alice and co while a return to the world of Samara and that dreaded life-threatening video tape is promised once again with Rings.
As is customary in such horror movies, jump scares aplenty are ready and waiting to catch viewers out, and through the years we’ve been shocked into thoughts of a heart seizure with some of the best. Here at Filmoria we’ve certainly been subject to such horrors as cats flying out of closets and the classic mirror trick, but here are some of the best jump scares that caught us fully unawares.
Clap Clap – The Conjuring (2013)
Let’s all agree on one thing: James Wan is currently one of the best modern day horror directors you can find. Having introduced the world to the Saw series, and showed his potential with Insidious, the director then went on to create something truly spine-tingling and legitimately terrifying in The Conjuring.
Few horror movies in recent times have been able to replicate the sense of dread and fear that some of the classic horror movies did so well in years gone by, but Wan managed just that with The Conjuring, combining a strong narrative with a tone that can only be described as expertly unsettling.
Throughout the movie there are many moments in which we find ourselves wriggling in our seats in fear of what is to come and none more so than the moment in which a trip to the basement turns into one of the best jump scares in recent memory. It’s a moment in which we expect something that doesn’t actually arrive, with a candlelit walk down the stairs ushering in a simple set of claps that scare the bejesus out of you.
Hats off to Wan, he’s the man!
Head In The Boat – Jaws (1975)
Being a massive wuss when it comes to horror and essentially unable to watch anything that involves creepy kids, creepy faces, demons, ghosts, dolls or clowns, it was slightly slim-pickings to select a favourite jump-scare. Fortunately, shark movies escape the list of my very specific criteria for horror no-nos, and even more fortunately, one of the greatest jump-scares of all time is also in one of the greatest movies ever made, and the one which tops my list of favourite films ever. I am of course talking about Jaws; a classic in every sense of the word, which has been thrilling audiences for over 40 years and putting fear in the hearts of everyone who has ever dipped their toes in the sea. The shark might be mechanical, but the fear is real, and without a question the scariest moment in the movie is the “head in the boat” scene.
Scientifically minded, and brave hero Hooper decides to venture into the water to investigate a boat which is very much sans fisherman after they’d set sail in pursuit of the shark earlier in the day. Donning his diving gear, Hooper might not come face to face with the shark just yet, but he gets up close and personal with the terrifying shock of a disembodied head which appears out of nowhere in a hole in the boat. No matter how many times I have seen this film (and it is a lot, believe me!) this moment still gives me the heebie jeebies and is easily one of the best jump-scares ever!
The Guide Dog – Suspiria (1977)
The art of the Jump Scare has, for the most part, become undone. Such a familiar trope in modern horror cinema it now is, that often audiences expect and foresee their arrival, which in turn massively taints their impact. However, it wasn’t always this way; in fact, much of Italian and Giallo horror filmmaking is laden with smartly implemented Jump Scares, which use the profound tingling of an orchestral score, or hazy, shadowy lighting in order to give additional atmosphere to the terror.
For my money, one of the very best examples – and indeed the one which caused me to spill boiling-hot tea in my lap – is the guide dog sequence in Dario Argento’s seminal shocker, Suspiria. A blind piano player takes his seemingly calm sensory hound for an evening walk across the plaza. The night is thick, and their route takes them past some of Germany’s most bespoke architecture. They arrive outside an ancient building – rooftops aligned with gargoyles and statuettes – where Daniel stops in his tracks. He waits patiently, as if he can sense something abnormal around him.
His dog quietly pants as his master remains still, and stays so for just enough time to fool your senses. The tension mounts, but no payoff seems to be arriving. The score’s sharpness continues to intensify before suddenly cutting to complete silence. You feel a little cheated in truth. But then, from out of nowhere, the totally obedient hound leaps up and rips Daniel’s throat out; biting and thrashing until he is left dead in a pool of claret.
Suspiria in particular is an extremely visual film; one with many moments that are designed to shake and shock the spectator, but damn, this moment is still both terrifying and surprising, even after multiple viewings. You know it’s going to happen, but the build-up is simply suffocating.
The Body Bag – The Ring Two (2005)
It may have been a supremely inferior movie to Gore Verbinski’s brilliantly handled remake of Ringu and featured an inherently annoying child actor whose blinking was the bane of annoyance for everyone who saw this film, but actually The Ring Two did have its fair share of well handled jump scares.
Admittedly, Samara in a mirror and emerging from the television may be predictable devices, but one that particularly stands out from this horrid movie is a moment in which a body bag is zipped open only to see emerging from it Samara herself in all her hair-covered glory. On the surface it is a simple jump scare that many would expect to see from a mile away, but the way in which it simply comes out of nowhere makes it all the more glorious within a movie that features very little going for it.
It also holds a very special place in my horrible heart as it was the jump scare that caused one of my good friends to literally jump out of his seat in the middle of the cinema. You can’t buy those moments…
Let us know what your favourite jump scare moments are over on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Rings and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter are out in UK cinemas this week.