As we enter the fall season, we are greeted with the spookiest holiday of the year. As Halloween draws closer, so do the scary movie marathons that accompany the holiday so well.
A Halloween tradition for a majority of people during October is watching their favorite scary flick. Whether it be a classic like “Night- mare on Elm Street” or a new cult favorite like “Terri er” one question always comes to mind. Do sudden jump scares ruin horror movies?
In short, the answer is no, but it isn’t quite as simple as that. Jump scares are a horror staple, but only in moderation. If a lm has more jumps than it has story driven spooks, it’s not going to be well received. A great (and recent) example of this is the 2018 horror flick “The Nun” which received a measly 25 percent on popular movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes. A major component of the low ratings and poor reviews is the reliance on jump scares instead of a story driven plot to creep out the lm-going audience.
A great example of the opposite is 1978 classic “Halloween” starring the original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis in her breakout role. Halloween is sitting at a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with rave reviews.
The film is considered one of the greatest horror flicks of all time and a large component of the success is the overall creepiness of the lm without a major reliance on jumps or cheap scares.
Michael Myers is a terrifying presence, even though his is rarely on screen. In the lm, he’s referred to as “the shape” and most of the cinematography including Myers is shot from his point of view with his ominous breathing making it feel like he’s in the room with you.
Halloween uses other methods to cause fear in the hearts of the audience. One of them being the fantastic score written by series co-creator John Carpenter. Music plays throughout the lm, reaching a crescendo anytime Myers is set to attack. That big moment coupled with the shots of “The Shape” instill fear without needing to ash a scary face on the screen.
Halloween isn’t perfect by any means but it didn’t resort to cheap pops to provide a thrill to the audience. It was driven by the story of a killer stalking his (sometimes) little sister while she tries to survive Halloween night in Haddon eld. There are other movies that use the jump scare tactic efficiently, such as the “Paranormal Activity” franchise. Those movies are still almost entirely driven by the plot, but when a scare needs to take place, they use those moments in a way that moves the story forward while spiking the adrenaline of the viewers.
Are jump scares a bad thing? No, not in moderation, but if your lm centers around them instead of on the story of survival, it’s probably safe to assume it won’t be a horror classic. Please use your scares responsibly.