Shutter Island (2010)
The Scare: Scorsese shows his mastery of suspense as Teddy Daniels goes poking around in the bowels of the mental institution, with a bald loon just waiting to burst into frame and bellow, “tag, you’re it!”
Brace Yourself When: “Laeddis,” breathes Teddy. “I can feel him…”
Julias Eyes (2010)
The Scare: Julia pursues a man she believes to be connected with her sister’s death into the shadows, using her mobile phone for light. Having illuminated a figure, she is blinded by a series of camera flashes, and plunged into darkness once more…
Brace Yourself When: The mobile phone brings the shadowy figure into sharp relief.
The Scare: Pennywise the clown makes a grab for a youngster’s foot. Steer well clear of those storm drains, kids.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as a drain comes into shot, you can be fairly sure that Pennywise will soon make himself known!
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Scare: The Mayor is staring out of his window onto a Gotham that is beginning to spiral out of control… and just as he does, a hanged corpse comes thudding into the glass.
Brace Yourself When: The Mayor gets right up close to the glass. So unexpected the first time around…
What Lies Beneath (2000)
The Scare: Utterly shameless in its reliance upon jump scares, What Lies Beneath does still contain a few goodies, as witnessed by Michelle Pfeiffer’s examination of the windows in the house across the street…
Brace Yourself When: Her eyes return to the first window she checked. Is there somebody staring back? Of course there is. Cheap, but effective.
A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)
The Scare: Scared by the story of a dead girl under the sink, Eun-joo decides to check under hers. Happily, there’s nothing there! The first time she looks, anyway…
Brace Yourself When: She spots a hair-clip on the floor, and a bloodied arm shoots out from under the sink!
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
The Scare: The camera zooms in on Laura Palmer’s dresser to reveal the horribly grinning visage of murderous weirdo, Bob.
Brace Yourself When: The camera enters Laura’s room. Who’s that hiding behind that lamp over there? Jesus fuck, it’s Bob!
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
The Scare: After a horrifying dream sequence in which David answers the door to an army of machine-gun toting loons, he wakes in his hospital bed, only for his nurse to open the curtains on to another scene of horror.
Brace Yourself When: Ms. Agutter makes her way over to the curtains. A classic example of lulling the audience into a false sense of security.
The Scare: Dr. Gordon is making his way to his car after a motel rendezvous with his mistress, only for a figure in a pig mask to appear out of nowhere and kick-start his nightmare…
Brace Yourself When: Gordon hears a suspicious noise and begins to look around him…
The Devils Backbone (2001)
The Scare: We get our first glimpse of Santi’s ghost when Carlos locks himself in a wardrobe. Understandably, the poor little soul is terrified.
Brace Yourself When: Carlos presses his eye to the keyhole to see if the coast is clear. It isn’t.
The Descent (2005)
The Scare: There are plenty of jumps in the cave-based section of the film, but the one that gets us the most is the horrific car accident in the opening scene. We did not see that flying pole coming!
Brace Yourself When: “I’m fine,” says the Dad, before fate crams those words violently down his throat.
The Scare: As the crew walk through the abandoned science lab, they take a closer look at some of the bizarre-looking creatures housed within the test tubes. Hang on, aren’t they Facehuggers?
Brace Yourself When: The camera lingers upon one beastie in particular… and it moves!
The Scare: Carole is rifling through her wardrobe when she suddenly closes the door, revealing the reflection of a man standing behind her.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as you spot that there’s a mirror on the door, you should know what’s coming…
Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)
The Scare: Call us wimps, but the moment when Bilbo’s face changes at the sight of the ring is as scary as any horror movie. Horrible stuff!
Brace Yourself When: Kindly old Bilbo makes to take the ring in his hand, just for old time’s sake…
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Scare: Haley Joel Osment is quietly sitting in his play tent when a young Mischa Barton suddenly appears before him, spewing up some kind of grey bile. Nasty.
Brace Yourself When: The fastenings on the tent begin to pop, and the camera pans downward.
Friday 13th (1980)
The Scare: Alice awakens on Crystal Lake as her boat drifts gently across the water. Suddenly, Jason’s mangled corpse pops out of the water and drags her under. Eat your heart out, Jaws.
Brace Yourself When: The camera begins to zoom in on Alice. “He’s still there!”
The Scare: The first footage of one of the aliens, as watched by Joaquin Phoenix during a TV news report. The film might lose its way towards the end, but this moment remains bloody terrifying.
Brace Yourself When: The shaky camera zooms in on the end of a narrow alley…
The Eye (2002)
The Scare: Mun takes her new eye for a test-drive when she visits a calligraphy school, only to spot a rather terrifying figure who can’t half move herself…
Brace Yourself When: Her eye wanders to the corner of the classroom.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Scare: Kirk investigates what appears to be an abandoned old house, but finds somebody at home in the form of Leatherface, who jumps out suddenly and bashes him over the head.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as Kirk sets foot over the threshold, things get unbearably tense.
The Others (2001)
The Scare: Having discovered that the house staff are actually dead, Nicole Kidman glances out of the window to see them all stood outside, staring right back at her!
Brace Yourself When: You’ll still be processing this latest plot twist as Kidman moves to the window…
The Scare: Harold Ramis kicks things off with a genuine scare, as the boys encounter a library-based spook that suddenly transforms into a really-quite-terrifying monster.
Brace Yourself When: Ray announces his grand plan… “GET HER!”
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
The Scare: Marge contentedly watches a group of children playing on her lawn, until Freddy punches his fist through her front door and drags her back into the house. Shamelessly cheap, but delivered with such gusto, it can’t be ignored!
Brace Yourself When: A look of peace finally settles upon Marge’s face…
Pee-Wees Big Adventure (1985)
The Scare: Large Marge is jawing on to Pee-Wee when her story takes a turn for the horrifying, as her eyes suddenly bulge out of her head. Nightmares ahoy…
Brace Yourself When: Marge turns to Pee-Wee saying, “it looked like THIS!”
The Scare: An unusual jump scare in that it isn’t accompanied by a sudden boom of music or a zooming camera, but when Majid calmly slits his own throat, it’s a jolt of seismic proportions.
Brace Yourself When: Majid tells Georges that he has something to show him…
The Exorcist (1973)
The Scare: Reagan’s mother sees something shocking out of frame… her daughter, bent over like a spider, scuttling down the staircase.
Brace Yourself When: Unlike many jump scares, this one is flagged up nice and clearly by the mother’s expression. The reveal still comes as a surprise though!
The Scare: Laurie battles Michael with nothing but a coathanger and miraculously comes out on top. Until he suddenly sits bolt upright, that is…
Brace Yourself When: It appears that Laurie has got the better of her man… she hasn’t.
The Ring (2002)
The Scare: A scene during Katie’s funeral, in which her mother explains just how the poor girl was found, cowering in a closet.
Brace Yourself When: “I saw her face” is your cue to cover your eyes!
Jurassic Park (1993)
The Scare: Laura Dern relaxes when she feels Sam Jackson’s arm on her shoulder, but isn’t so chilled when she realises the rest of his body isn’t attached…
Brace Yourself When: “Oh, Mr. Arnold…”
The Grudge (2002)
The Scare: Kayako claims another victim, revealing herself to be inside the bed as her prey shrinks under the covers!
Brace Yourself When: As soon as covers go over head, get ready to scream!
The Scare: Poor little Robbie is searching under his bed for monsters, only for a giant clown doll to grab him from behind and drag him to the floor.
Brace Yourself When: Robbie raises his head for the second time…
The Shining (1980)
The Scare: The twins make an appearance, before suddenly morphing into a pair of hacked-up corpses. No wonder Danny shits a brick.
Brace Yourself When: The girls make their first appearance at the end of the corridor. Scary enough on their own, they’re about to get a whole lot scarier.
The Scare: Shigeharu calls the winner of the audition to become his wife, who is sitting by the ringing phone and a mysterious sack… that suddenly gives a groan and a start!
Brace Yourself When: The phone rings for the ninth time.
The Scare: Any appearance by the demon, when he comes peeking out from one of the main character’s heads. Good Lord.
Brace Yourself When: Whenever there’s a close-up on a seemingly unthreatening character’s face. Just to be sure…
The Woman In Black (2012)
The Scare: Arthur Kipps peers through a keyhole into a locked room, only to be confronted by the pallid face of a creepy little girl.
Brace Yourself When: You might already have jumped at the shadow darting across the room. In reality, that’s when you should be tensing up…
Mulholland Drive (2001)
The Scare: A man tells his dining companion of a horrifying nightmare in which he discovers a terrible figure behind the dumpster of the diner in which they are eating. Sure enough, they head outside to investigate, and the figure is there!
Brace Yourself When: Our hero takes a peek behind the dumpster…
Dont Look Now (1973)
The Scare: Donald Sutherland thinks he’s tracked down the ghost of his dead daughter, only for the red-hooded figure to reveal itself as something far more malign.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as the figure begins to turn. You’re expecting one thing, and then something else entirely makes itself known!
Arlington Road (1999)
The Scare: Having confessed her fears concerning the Langs over a payphone, Brooke hangs up, only to find Cheryl Lang standing right behind her. It comes out of nowhere!
Brace Yourself When: Brooke starts wrapping up her call. Where could Cheryl be hiding, hmmm?
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Scare: The sight of Mike, stood facing the corner in the movie’s final scene, isn’t a jump scene in the conventional sense, but the jolt of horror it delivers is enough to ensure it qualifies. The stuff of nightmares.
Brace Yourself When: Heather descends to the basement. It’s all downhill from there…
Jaws #1 (1975)
The Scare: Brody is merrily slinging chum into the water when Bruce the shark suddenly rears his ugly head. Larger vessel required, Cap’n!
Brace Yourself When: As soon as Brody takes his eye off the ball, he nearly loses an arm!
Paranormal Activity (2007)
The Scare: Katie and Micah investigate the sound of breaking glass, only for Katie to stop dead, citing a sudden chill in the room. The tension builds for a second or two before a hair is softly blown across her face and the couple promptly lose their shit!
Brace Yourself When: The duo freeze in concentration. Who’d have imagined a puff of air could produce such a jump?
The Scare: As Somerset and Mills give the apparent corpse of the “sloth” victim the once over, their theoretical murder victim gives a sudden start before slipping into the hereafter.
Brace Yourself When: When Somerset goes leaning into the body, you can tell something is amiss…
The Scare: Our final two survivors head to the attic in search of a way out. What they find is an infected kid with a very pissed-off expression on his face.
Brace Yourself When: The camera begins to pan around the attic, and Angela says, “there are really weird noises…”
The Orphanage (2007)
The Scare: Having seen the creepy old woman from the orphanage suddenly get splatted by a bus, Belen Rueda runs to her side to double check she’s dead. Guess what? She isn’t.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as Rueda leans in. What happens next isn’t just startling, it’s pretty gross to boot.
The Scare: Its effect has been dulled somewhat by familiarity, but the first time we saw the chestburster come shrieking out of John Hurt’s chest, we jumped clean out of our seats!
Brace Yourself When: Hurt’s character begins to take a funny turn in the mess hall…
The Thing (1982)
The Scare: Copper attempts to revive Norris via defibrillation, only for the latter’s chest to open up like a giant mouth and snap his arms off. Yikes!
Brace Yourself When: You can start clenching those buttocks as soon as Copper reaches for the defibrillator.
The Scare: A double whammy as Norman’s mother is revealed to be a hideous corpse and Norman himself comes bursting in, in all his dragged-up glory.
Brace Yourself When: As the hand falls upon Mother’s shoulder, and the whole house of cards prepares to come tumbling down.
Cat People (1942)
The Scare: “The Lewton Bus”, in which Alice stumbles through a quiet street, terrified of a presence she can sense behind her, only to be scared out of her wits by the sudden arrival of a bus.
Brace Yourself When: The camera closes in on Alice’s terror-stricken face. The bus is a-comin’!
The Scare: Sue Snell places a bunch of flowers upon Carrie’s grave, and gets the fright of her life as a hand comes bursting out of the earth!
Brace Yourself When: She begins to lower the flowers to the grave, and the music reaches its twee crescendo.
Jaws #2 (1975)
The Scare: Brody and Hooper go in search of the shark, only to discover the ruined remains of Ben Gardner’s boat… and his body.
Brace Yourself When: Hooper peers through a broken timber, only for Gardner’s unseeing eyes to come looming out of the darkness!
The Exorcist 3 (1990)
The Scare: The camera lingers upon a hospital corridor, as a nurse casually walks from one side to another… followed by a ghostly figure with a big old pair of scissors. Hello heart-attack.
Brace Yourself When: As soon as the nurse turns away and begins walking, cueing up the crash zoom and screeching sound effect.