Top 10 Horror Movie Jump Scares

Script written by Nathan Sharp. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned big screen jump scare to get the heart pumping. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 horror movie jump scares. For this list, we’re choosing what we felt were the most effective jump scares found in horror films, based on the intensity of the jump. If you didn’t see one you thought should be on the list, be sure to check out our video on the Top 10 Jump Scares in Non-Horror Movies. Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, Gamerchick21, Ralphvalejoshua Ibit Solidum, Josh Catlin, Conrailfan2323, thetattooedyoshi, troll, Ken Polenio and meneertje25 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nathan Sharp.

Top 10 Horror Movie Jump Scares


There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned big screen jump scare to get the heart pumping. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 horror movie jump scares.

For this list, we’re choosing what we felt were the most effective jump scares found in horror films, based on the intensity of the jump. If you didn’t see one you thought should be on the list, be sure to check out our video on the Top 10 Jump Scares in Non-Horror Movies.

#10: Kyra Collins Appears
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)

Do you remember when M. Night Shyamalan actually made good movie? This supernatural thriller took the world by storm at the end of the ‘90s, mostly due to its shocking twist ending, but also due to some pretty intense and effective scares. In this scene, Cole Sear, a child who sees ghosts, can sense that there is something nearby. His fears are quickly justified when an apparition played by Mischa Barton appears behind him, vomit spilling out of her mouth. The series of events leading up to it built up the tension to its highest point, and the final scare itself leaves you jumping.

#9: The Truth About Mother
“Psycho” (1960)

This scene can be considered a true classic due to its scary nature, but also for providing one of the greatest twist endings in cinema history. Here, Lila finally finds the troublesome Mrs. Bates, only to turn her around and be shocked with the truth – that she’s actually just found her decomposed body. The jump works not only due to the terrifying decayed face, but also because of audience expectations; we simply weren’t expecting Mrs. Bates to be dead. This is certainly a jump scare for the history books.

#8: Carrie Grabs Sue
“Carrie” (1976)

This movie is about a bullied student who learns she has psychic powers and takes revenge on those who tormented her throughout high school. This final jump scare comes during the horror film’s final scene, when surviving student Sue Snell visits Carrie’s grave. Since it’s the end of the movie and the villain is dead, what could possibly go wrong? And yet, Carrie’s bloodied hand reaches out of the ground and grabs Sue – and this, complete with some freaky music – is what it one of the most unexpected endings in horror movie history.

#7: Airshaft
“Alien” (1979)

This classic Ridley Scott film isn’t short on tension or scares, and both come together especially well in this famous scene in which Dallas goes into the airlocks to find crewmate Brett. In the complete darkness, Dallas shines his flashlight, and this is when the alien suddenly attacks. Tension is added to the scene thanks to how pitch black the air lock appears to be and the tightness of the corridors, and the fact that the alien appears in a beam of light and makes a terrifying noise makes an already freaky scene even scarier.

#6: In the Closet
“The Ring” (2002)

This Japanese horror remake, about a VHS tape that sends a paranormal entity to kill the viewer after a week of watching it, has some pretty disturbing scenes. But it’s the closet scene that makes this list. Here, protagonist Rachel is speaking to the mother of Katie, a victim of the tape, who tells the journalist about finding her daughter’s deformed body in the closet. Some great acting sets everything up, and then a loud screeching noise and the use of a quick-cut editing technique further intensifies the actual jump scare. Freaky!

#5: I’ll Rip Your Soul Out!
“Evil Dead” (2013)

This reboot-slash-remake of the “Evil Dead” series that launched in the early ‘80s features twenty-something kids renting a cabin out for some fun, only to be terrorized by demons. This scene, which is the very first of the movie, features the movie’s very first demon, which is soon confronted with fire. It works because of the seemingly helpless nature of the possessed girl, who, when put face-to-face with a match, transforms into a powerful demonic force that begins yelling at the screen. It’s a one-two punch of a scary face and a loud noise, and that’s exactly what makes this jump scare so effective.

#4: Clap On, Clap Off
“The Conjuring” (2013)

This movie’s premise sounds pretty simple: a family moves into a house that they soon come to believe is haunted. However, some truly terrific scares are what elevate this simple premise above the rest, particularly this one. This scene’s fear comes from the terrifying situation of Lorraine being left alone in the dark. And then, demon hands. It’s already petrifying thanks to the ghostly activity hinted at right before, but add the heightened tension of being locked in the basement in total darkness, as well as the loud and sudden clap of unknown origin from behind, and we’re sure you’d all say with much certainly that you’d never want to live here!

#3: Defibrillation
“The Thing” (1982)

Though the moment in which a blood sample literally jumps away from MacReady is also a fantastic scare in this film, it’s this chest attack that proves more effective at jolting us awake. Dr. Copper is trying to resurrect Norris from a heart attack, only for the geologist’s chest to open up and bite the doctor’s arms off. This scene works due to both its sudden nature and the terrific effects that went into making it look as scary and bloody as possible. Then there’s the fact that the idea of a chest growing teeth and eating an arm is a terrifying idea in and of itself!

#2: Rip Roaring Red Figure
“Insidious” (2010)

Another seemingly run-of-the-mill haunted house movie, “Insidious” has some terrifying scares that elevate it. That includes this one, where a red-faced demon appears behind Josh as his mother Lorraine speaks of the scary dream she had. The preceding events, including the shadow figure in Dalton’s room that reaches for him, complement this scare, while the silence throughout the scene in question heightens the loud roar of the demon. Meanwhile, his red face against the blue background amplifies the suddenness of his appearance. It’s unexpected, loud, and downright frightening.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Bed Troll
“Ernest Scared Stupid” (1991)
- Truck Horn
“Jeepers Creepers” (2001)
- Pig in the Closet
“Saw” (2004)
- Jason Attacks Boat
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
- Majid Slices Own Throat
“Caché” (2005)
- Jaws Appears
“Jaws” (1975)

#1: Freaky Nurse Station
“The Exorcist III” (1990)

While the rest of the film may not have been up to par, especially when comparing it to the first film of this supernatural horror film series, it’s this scene that everyone can’t get out of their minds when they think of the 3rd “Exorcist” movie. Why? It’s just so damn effective. We think we’re watching a seemingly normal everyday occurrence in a psychiatric hospital until a nurse locks a door behind her... and then she is chased and killed. The seemingly ordinary nature of this scene works to its advantage, as the silence and events lead us to lower our guards and simply watch without much thought or emotion. Therefore, since we are not expecting it at all, the loud noise and zoom-in scare the pants right off of us.

Do you agree with our list? What horror movie jump scare do you think was the scariest? For more freaky top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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