Our 10 Favourite Movie Jump Scares

David Girvan | April 11, 2016

At their best jump scares can be the most terrifying, memorable moments in film. We rundown our 10 favourites (Hammer films excluded) below!

10. The Descent (2002) – Night Vision

Director Neil Marshall’s inventive approach to lighting throughout the skin-crawlingly claustrophobic The Descent is perhaps demonstrated best in this terrifying moment, when a camera’s night-vision setting is is needed to reveal the climbers’ pitch black surroundings.

Often imitated, has this technique ever been used to better effect? Comments at the bottom!

9. Audition (1999) – The Sack

Every time you find yourself daydreaming about your new lover, thinking, “I wonder if I should call him/her?”, we want you to picture this scene. Our advice is, don’t ring them- dying alone would be preferable to the horror awaiting Shigeharu in Audition.

8. Don’t Look Now (1973) – Ending


The culmination of a creepy mystery which has spanned the whole film, Donald Sutherland finally discovers in this scene: is it his own deceased daughter he’s been seeing around Venice, wearing a red coat… or something else?

7. Hidden (Cache) (2005) – The Accusation


More shocking thanks to the deliberately unremarkable set up of the scene (the sound design, flat visuals and and fixed camera all shout “nothing to see here!”), this tragic scene chills long after the credits (which are decidedly unsettling in themselves) roll

6. The Shining (1980) – Twins


“Come and play with us Danny. Forever. And ever. And ever”. Need we say anymore?

5. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)


Bilbo, the cuddliest old hobbit there ever was, produces the most unexpected scare of the entire LOTR trilogy in this clip.

4. Seven (1995) – Sloth


Shock quickly becomes a mixture of nausea and pity as Somerset and Mills stumble upon the third victim of the film’s enigmatic killer in this stomach churning scene.

3. Insidious (2010) – Vision


A particularly effective scare here, thanks to the subtle implication for the viewer that the dream being described is scary, while the real world is safe. When the rug is finally pulled out and the scare executed, you’d be forgiven for requiring a new pair of Y fronts.

2. Mulholland Drive (2001) – The Dream at Winkies


Another scare which blends dream and reality, this terrifying sequence from Mulholland Drive ranks higher than Insidious because there are no real “tricks” at play here- just an artfully directed, dread-and-suspense-filled nightmare.

1. The Exorcist III (1990) – Ward


While the film itself might not rank high on many people’s lists of best horror films, this one-shot scene from The Exorcist III contains perhaps the most memorable and unexpected jump scare we’ve ever seen (even more than Bilbo!), and so it earns our top spot!

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