Horror enthusiasts generally fall into one of two camps: fans of gore (Saw), and fans of the jump scare (Paranormal Activity). Although the two can certainly co-exist (and often do), some horror movies are literally designed to make viewers jump out of their seat, often without even showing the viewers what they're afraid of. In other words, a good jump scare is like a science. Build the tension, set the mood, quiet everything down... and then BOOM, you've wet yourself. If you enjoy horror movies that make you jump, then here are ten of the very best.
9 Paranormal Activity
When it comes to JUMP scares, can anything beat the Paranormal Activity movies? For those of you who've been living under a rock, the original film (released in 2007) centers on a young couple who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. In an attempt to capture the "haunting" on film, they set up surveillance cameras all over their house to document the strange occurrences. It seems like the grainy security footage would somehow minimize the scare factor, but it actually does the opposite. This movie singlehandedly proves that you don't have to actually SEE the evil to be afraid of it.
8 The Conjuring
No one can forget the infamous "clap scene" in The Conjuring, a 2013 supernatural horror film that was frightening in its relative simplicity. After a family is terrorized by a dark entity in their Rhode Island farmhouse, they look to paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to shed some light on what they're dealing with.
Not exactly a unique storyline in terms of horror movies, but the unexpected scenes and scares in this movie will make you jump right out of your skin. For those who haven't seen it, it's currently available to stream on Netflix.
Creep is a 2014 "found footage" horror film that was originally released on video on demand before making its way to Netflix in 2015. The film follows a videographer named Aaron who agrees to work for Josef, a terminally ill (and seriously creepy) man who wants to make a series of videos for his unborn son. For those who haven't seen it, just the trailer will have you jumping out of your skin. Sometimes the scariest things aren't supernatural at all.
Total silence makes jump scares all the more frightening, which is exactly the 2016 slasher film Hush has made the list. The film centers around a writer named Maddie, a deaf-mute woman who finds herself being hunted like prey in the middle of nowhere by a masked killer.
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There are several times when, due to her hearing disability, Maddie remains completely oblivious to the fact that the killer is right behind her. The suspense is truly magnificent. This movie will have you jumping out of your seat more times than you can count.
5 The Babadook
As you can probably tell by the picture above, 2014's The Babadook is nothing but a suspense-fueled, childlike nightmare that will cause you to second guess every book you read to your child from here on out. The story seems simple enough - a widowed mother reads a mysterious pop-up storybook called Mister Babadook to her son, who soon becomes convinced that Mister Babadook is real.
In terms of jump scares, screams, and sheer creepiness, this movie scores an 11/10. Watch it if you dare.
2010's Insidious, directed by James Wan, is the first installment in the Insidious franchise and the third in terms of series chronology. In the film, a couples' son falls into a coma and becomes a vessel for ghosts who want to inhabit his body.
Things get dark real fast in this movie, and the unexpected twists and turns, particularly at the end, will have you screaming (no, seriously). Created by the same makers behind Paranormal Activity, this film knows how to send you flying out of your seat.
Scream can best be described as a "slasher film," but it is also one of the best "jump scare" horror movies ever made. Released in 1996, Scream follows the life of Sidney Prescott, a high school student. She becomes the target of a mysterious killer called Ghostface. The film sometimes feels like a collection of horror movie clichés, but it's also the perfect example of how to scare someone with something as simple as a phone call. It's not often that a ringing phone can make your heart jump out of your chest, but that's exactly what this movie manages to do over and over again.
The infamous dog scene in the movie trailer led us to believe that The Lazarus Effect was going to be a jump scare masterpiece, and that's exactly what it was. When medical researchers develop a serum, code-named "Lazarus," to assist coma patients, they soon realize that they've inadvertently discovered a way to bring the dead back to life. Whether it's a dead animal or a dead human, both creatures can be brought back only in body. Do they still have a soul, or has it been replaced with something much darker? Watch and find out (and get ready to be jolted out of your seat).
2 A Quiet Place
As mentioned before, silence makes jump scares all the more effective, and no horror movie has ever been as quiet as A Quiet Place. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the plot revolves around a family struggling to survive alongside blind extraterrestrial creatures with an acute sense of hearing.
Any sound the family makes, however small, can be detected by the creatures from miles away, so their silence is crucial to their survival. As all horror enthusiasts know, the secret sauce to a good jump scare is tension, and this movie is fraught with it.
1 The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project, released back in 1999, tells the fictional story of three student filmmakers who set out on a hiking expedition to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. In this found footage documentary, the three students disappear but their equipment and footage is discovered a year later. Like most good horror films, the constant feeling of dread throughout the movie is what really primes the viewers for a good "jump." Whether it's the snapping of a twig in the darkness or an unexpected scream, viewers of the film become just as hyper-sensitive as the students who are allegedly filming it.