15 Horror Movies That Are Basically All Jump Scares

15 Horror Movies That Are Basically All Jump Scares


Summary

  • Some horror movies rely on jump scares, which are abrupt cuts and loud noises meant to startle the audience, to create a sense of dread.
  • Jump scares can be effective when used properly by a director who knows what they’re doing, but can also be cheap if overused.
  • Quality horror movies can utilize jump scares without relying too heavily on them, creating a thrilling and terrifying viewing experience.


Horror movies come in all shapes and sizes. There’s psychological horror, so-called “elevated” horror, creature features, zombie features, ghost stories – you get the point. While some movies rely on atmosphere and tone to create that creeping feeling of dread, other movies utilize jump scares to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. What constitutes a jump scare? Any time there’s an abrupt, hard cut and a LOUD, JARRING noise meant to startle the audience – that’s a jump scare. Sometimes it can be cheap (like the “jumping cat out of nowhere” cliché, or relying on non-diegetic music cues to startle the audience), but if used properly by a director who knows what they’re doing, jump scares can be wildly effective (like the birthday party scene in Signs – you know the one).

People enjoy watching these kinds of movies because they want to jump out of their skin. To feel that intense dread and racketing tension is like a 90-minute buzz of adrenaline. A lot of times, movies are lambasted for their use of excessive jump scares. And while some do rely too much on the “cheap” type of jump scare, there are plenty of quality movies that don’t. If you’re looking for a good film that doesn’t go easy in the terror department, here are a few horror movies that are basically all jump scares (according to statistics gathered by WheresTheJump.com).

Updated on November 10th, 2023, by Scoot Allan: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.


15 The Exorcist 3 (1990)

Exorcist 3

Release Date
August 17, 1990

Director
William Peter Blatty

Cast
George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson, Scott Wilson

Rating
R

Runtime
110

Genres
Horror, Mystery, Thriller

The Exorcist 3 is arguably a much better sequel to the original film than The Heretic; it has a better story and a more straightforward script. The mystery of the Gemini Killer has an excellent pacing, and the transitions between the killer and the man hosting his soul are incredible.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

The movie relies heavily on a jump scare in its most poignant scene. A nurse making her rounds is seen exploring her patients’ rooms after hearing strange noises. She finds nothing and even briefly talks with a security guard when a hooded figure holding a cutting tool suddenly scares the bejeezus out of her. While it’s not known for quantity necessarily, it’s an important jump scare in horror movie history.

14 Dead Silence (2007)

Dead Silence

Dead Silence

Release Date
March 16, 2007

Director
James Wan

Cast
Ryan Kwanten, Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Fairman, Joan Heney, Bob Gunton

Rating
R

Runtime
89

Genres
Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Making a film about creepy puppets doesn’t call for jump scares. These demonic-looking dolls can do the job by themselves. However, James Wan wouldn’t let the audience off the hook so easily. In Dead Silence, a man named Jamie returns to his hometown of Ravens Fair after his wife dies unexpectedly, with him waiting to unravel the mastery of her passing.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Jamie would discover the legend of Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who was murdered in the town, but whose looming presence is still felt in the form of numerous creepy dolls who seem to have a life of their own. The film will have you jumping out of your set at least 15 times, with the ones shown in the first half being the most effective and unpredictable.

13 Ghost Stories (2017)

Ghost Stories, an anthology-style horror movie from directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, follows Phillip Goodman, a professor who specializes in debunking psychics and instances of supernatural phenomena. He’s given three cases to investigate, and as you might expect, things get weird.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Ghost Stories originally started as a stage play; Dyson and Nyman utilized a wide range of old-school tricks to get the audience jumping out of their seats in person and wisely brought that old-school feel to their film adaptation, packing in 21 jump scares. It’s a wonderful throwback to the horror films of yesteryear, featuring a genuinely unnerving atmosphere coupled with a gentle through-line of humor, all told with a sly and knowing wink.

12 The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring

The Conjuring 2

Release Date
June 10, 2016

Director
James Wan

Cast
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O’Connor

Rating
R

Runtime
2hr 14min

Genres
Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Ed and Lorraine Warren returned after the events of The Conjuring to help another family deal with a potential haunting. The sequel adapted the controversial story of the “Enfield poltergeist,” which featured more than one spectral presence that terrorized a new family in England. The Conjuring 2 introduced the demonic threat of Valak that would later appear in The Nun franchise.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 contains more jump scares than any film in the connected Conjuring universe, coming in at 22 jolts throughout its 135-minute running time. Wan’s films have been criticized by some who find issues with his over-reliance on jarring jump scares, but the seasoned horror director knows how to use them. Wan rackets up the tension to unbelievable heights before finally hitting the audience with a perfectly timed shock of horror. Jump scares don’t come better than this.

11 The Grudge (2004)

RELATED: 15 Best Jump Scares in Horror History

The Grudge, the American remake of the incredibly popular (and terrifying) Japanese film Ju-On, stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as a nurse living in Tokyo, who is exposed to “the grudge,” a supernatural curse that is born when someone dies in a state of extreme rage or sorrow. The curse claims and eventually kills its victims before moving on to the next unfortunate soul.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Director Takashi Simizu manages to recapture the dread-soaked atmosphere and creepy imagery that made his Japanese original so popular. But Simizu also leans more heavily into the shock-inducing jump scares; the American remake has 23 jump scares, as opposed to the 15 found in his more atmospheric original. It’s not a perfect movie, and the original may edge it out ever so slightly, but The Grudge is an early-2000s horror classic that will have you clutching your chest throughout its 90-minute runtime.

10 Scream 3 (2000)

Scream 3

Scream 3

Release Date
February 3, 2000

Director
Wes Craven

Cast
Liev Schreiber, Beth Toussaint, Roger Jackson, Kelly Rutherford, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox

Rating
R

Runtime
116

Genres
Horror, Mystery

Many people blame Scream 3 as the film that derailed the franchise for its extremely meta-commentary and lack of plotline. After the events of the first two movies, a third film in the “Stab” saga is being shot based on the circumstances of Scream 2. However, things get out of control when a masked copycat killer begins killing all cast members to try to get to Sydney Prescott.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

If the story sounds convoluted, it is because it is. It’s pretty challenging to think Wes Craven wrote and directed this movie since it felt like it dwindled the original premise he created with the first entry in the saga. The director went overboard with the number of jump scares for this one, with 23 taking place in a runtime of two hours.

9 It: Chapter One (2017)

it

It

Release Date
September 6, 2017

Director
Andres Muschietti

Cast
Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Martell, Javier Botet, Sophia Lillis, Owen Teague

Rating
R

Runtime
135

Genres
Horror, Documentary, Drama, Thriller

Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel follows a group of bullied teens who band together to kill a terrifying shape-shifting clown known as Pennywise, played by the incredibly unnerving Bill Skårsgard. The film features a handful of truly nightmarish sequences that linger long after the credits roll.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

At 23 jump scares, It: Chapter One really packs them in. But given the film’s two-hour-and-fifteen-minute runtime, the jolts don’t feel nearly as excessive as that number may suggest. Funny enough, the follow-up – Chapter Two – features an equal amount of jump scares, but given the film’s close to three-hour running time, the scares don’t feel nearly as abundant.

8 Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell

Release Date
March 15, 2009

Director
Sam Raimi

Cast
Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
99

Genres
Horror, Thriller

After directing three Spider-Man films back-to-back, Sam Raimi took a break from the big-budget Hollywood action movies and returned to his horror roots with the uproarious and terrifying Drag Me to Hell. The movie stars Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a loan officer who evicts an old woman (who happens to be an ancient witch) from her home, and becomes the victim of a relentless, supernatural curse.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

If you’re a fan of the director’s mix of over-the-top humor and gross-out horror, you will find a lot to love in Drag Me to Hell. While the film has its detractors for its overuse of LOUD jump scares (of which it has 23), Raimi uses these jolts of terror to create a consistent atmosphere of high-strung tension and dread, placing you directly into the character’s shoes to great effect.

7 Insidious (2004)

Insidious

Insidious

Release Date
September 13, 2010

Director
James Wan

Cast
Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Andrew Astor, Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
102

Genres
Horror, Thriller

Insidious follows a family trying to rescue their comatose son from a supernatural realm known as “The Further.” Unlike The Nun or The Curse of La Llorona, Wan knows when to lean into the trusted jump scare, and when to play it cool, resulting in a movie that feels very much like a twisted ride through a haunted house. His masterful control of mood and atmosphere is why James Wan is one of the most successful horror directors working today.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Insidious squeezes 24 total jump scares in its economic runtime. The imagery in this film is truly the stuff of nightmares, and James Wan manages to pull off not just one, but two jump scares that will go down as some of the best in horror movie history.

6 The Beyond (1981)

RELATED: These Are the Greatest Final Scenes in Horror Movie History

Notorious Italian horror director Lucio Fulci gave the world one of his best films with the release of The Beyond in 1981, a film that was viewed generally unfavorably upon its initial release but has developed a passionate and devout cult following in the years since. The Louisiana-set gothic horror movie follows Liza, a young woman who inherits an old hotel which may or may not be a literal gateway to hell.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

The film is a surreal, Giallo-inspired descent into madness that is not for the faint of heart. Not only does Fulci create a masterful atmosphere of uneasiness, he doesn’t skimp on the jump scares, either. The 87-minute film has a total of 27 scares, meaning you’re in for a jump every three minutes. If you have a weak ticker, you may want to stay away from this one.

5 Evil Dead II (1987)

evil dead 2

Evil Dead 2

Release Date
March 13, 1987

Director
Sam Raimi

Cast
Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler

Rating
R

Runtime
84

Genres
Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

Sam Raimi will forever be remembered for his contribution to the horror genre with The Evil Dead franchise. While the famous director already makes an appearance on this list, one of his “scariest” movies (at least regarding jump scares) also happens to be his best – and that’s the classic Evil Dead II.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

When Ash once again opens the Book of the Dead, the gory, disorienting insanity that follows will make you scream and laugh in equal measure. But despite all the humor, Raimi manages to cram 27 jump scares into the lean and mean 84-minute movie, making it one of the best – and most economical – horror offerings on this list.

4 Hell Fest (2018)

hell fest

Hell Fest

Release Date
September 27, 2018

Director
Gregory Plotkin

Cast
Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign A’Rei Edwards, Amy Forsyth, Tony Todd, Christian James, Courtney Dietz

Rating
R

Runtime
89

Genres
Horror

Hell Fest tells the stories of three young couples visiting a traveling carnival with many ghoulish rides full of labyrinths and mazes. What could go wrong in such a place, right? Well, it turns out a ton, as a masked killer begins hounding the six people and killing them one by one.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Since the story’s setting takes place in a horror-themed park, it makes sense for the movie to be filled with false positives working as jump scares to keep the audience enticed. Yet, we can’t overlook the fact this movie has close to 28 jump scares in 90 minutes of film, which feels like overkill by the time we are done with the movie.

3 Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)

Paranormal Activity 5

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Release Date
October 21, 2015

Director
Gregory Plotkin

Cast
Chris J. Murray, Brittany Shaw, Ivy George, Dan Gill, Olivia Dudley, Chloe Csengery

Rating
R

Runtime
88

Genres
Horror, Thriller

We could list any of the films in the series here, as the found footage genre relies too much on the illusion of something happening on the screen to get a scare out of the audience. While the first movie kept things nice and simple, the most elaborate productions in the series began to rely more on jump scares to make the experience more immersive.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Things would get derailed by the sixth entry in the franchise. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension has a counter of over 30 jump scares in 88 minutes of runtime, making the experience tiresome and repetitive by the time we are done with the film, as most of these scares rely more on music placement than something scary happening on the screen.

2 The Haunting in Connecticut 2: The Ghosts of Georgia (2013)

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia

Release Date
February 1, 2013

Director
Tom Elkins

Cast
Chad Michael Murray, Katee Sackhoff, Abigail Spencer, Cicely Tyson, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrea Frankle

Rating
R

Runtime
100

Genres
Drama, Documentary, Horror, Thriller

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: The Ghosts of Georgia is a pretty standard haunted house movie: a family moves into an old home in Georgia, and mysterious occurrences begin to take over their lives. Though the film was never intended to be a sequel to The Haunting in Connecticut (hence the Georgia setting), the studio revamped the script to capitalize on the success of that film.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

The Ghosts of Georgia isn’t very good. The movie was critically lambasted when it was released, and general audiences haven’t been very kind to it, either. But the film earns its spot on this list because it includes approximately 32 jump scares which, according to WheresTheJump.com, is more than any horror movie released…well, ever.

1 Host (2020)

Host

Host

Release Date
July 30, 2020

Director
Rob Savage

Cast
Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore

Rating
Not Rated

Runtime
57min

Genres
Horror, Mystery

Rob Savage’s surprise COVID hit Host was one of the first films released during the pandemic that was shot entirely remotely. The film follows a group of friends who hold a séance over Zoom and get picked off one by one by the demonic presence they have inadvertently summoned. It’s a simple premise, told uniquely, that takes full advantage of its limited resources with some very impressive results.

How Many Jump Scares Does It Have?

Host has approximately 23 jump scares, meaning it doesn’t set the record for most scares in a movie (as we’ve already seen, that award belongs to The Haunting in Connecticut 2), but at only 56 minutes long, Host has more jump scares per minute than any other film on this list, with one every two and a half minutes. If you’re looking for a streamlined, scare-a-minute movie, you can’t do much better than Host.



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