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10 Greatest Horror Films That Don't Rely On Jump Scares

Horror films that proved that hair-raising suspense is much more effective than jump scares.

New Line Cinema

Ever since a bus screeched into frame in 1942 horror classic Cat People, jump scares have become a prominent fixture of the genre.

When they’re done right, these scares can be incredibly effective, taking us by surprise with genuinely creepy imagery. Both The Conjuring and Insidious are the perfect examples of horrors that do jump scares right. Unfortunately, though, far too many horrors rely solely on this tactic to generate their scares.

There’s only so many times we can watch a character look in the direction of an ominously spooky noise as the atmospheric music gives way to the musical sting of whatever ghostly presence is nearby before the experience wears thin. It’s cheap, lazy, and can easily see a horror devolve into a comedy.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of devilish delights out there that prove that jump scares aren’t what make films scary. Relying on their suspenseful atmospheres and gripping narratives to immerse us in unnerving tension, these flicks stand as being some of the most frightening horror offerings to date.

Although they may include the occasional jump scare, none of them are cheap or the main source of the encompassing terror.

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Contributor
Contributor

Glasgow-based cinephile who earned a Master's degree in film studies to spend their time writing about cinema, video games, and horror.