Jump scares are to horror movies as McDonald’s is to restaurants. Your hunger for wanting to be terrified will be satiated, but only briefly. Eventually, you’re going to want something more filling, and more chilling. Tortured metaphors aside, jump scares are a horror-movie staple. When someone, or something, abruptly moves toward you, you’re going to recoil — especially when accompanied with a loud burst of music. It’s a natural reaction. Jump scares have to be used in moderation, though (if it all — The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby are two of the scariest movies of all time because they rely on natural dread, not cheap techniques). The final scene in Carrie works so well because it comes out of nowhere. Meanwhile, something like The Forest will try to “jump scare you to death” because “the movie isn’t naturally scary.”
Burger Fiction put together a supercut of what they consider the “40 greatest movie-jump scares” ever. It’s an intriguing mix of classic horror films, like Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street, as well as modern-day masterpieces, such as The Descent and [REC] (also, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs — admit it, you reacted like Joaquin Phoenix when you first saw that scene). Yes, Large Marge made the cut. There’s only one notable omission:
Like Homer watching Young Frankenstein, it scared the hell out of me.