The concept of horror is generally predicated upon two factors: the build, and the payoff. While this could be true in many films, horror handles things differently. A comedy relies on a setup before hitting a hilarious punchline, while action films build to an often-explosive climax.
Horror, for its part, can often spend far longer on this build. The looming sense of dread, the tension mounting, the fakeouts, all of them can leave watchers clutching their seats tighter and tighter, waiting for the right moment before WHAM! Something truly scary happens on screen and the audience is able to expel that bundled energy into a cascade of screams.
But a jump scare isn't just built on a loud musical note or wide eyes. True jump scares perfect that combination of ratcheting up the suspense with a truly shocking payoff that is etched into the memories of viewers long after they've left the cinema.
Here are some moments that followed moviegoers all the way home and, more than likely, right into their nightmares.
10. Insidious - Right Behind You
Starting with the most recent film on the list, Insidious is 2010 film that, along with films like Paranormal Activity and The Conjuring, brought the haunted house motif back with a vengeance.
The premise is simple enough: Renai and Josh along with their two children move into a new home, when one night, an unexplained force terrifies Dalton to the point that he falls into a coma for months on end. Once they bring their son home from the hospital, where he was unable to be woken, eerie events begin happening throughout the house, accompanied by the presence of a dark, red-faced figure appearing only fleetingly.
At their wits end, the couple reach out to Elise, a psychic who is sympathetic to their cause. Elise immediately senses problems within the home, as she recounts dreams of a dark-figured man in Dalton's room. As she elaborates, Elise's eyes glance towards Josh, only to see that same dark, red-faced demon right behind her.
The scene is utterly terrifying, but does lose points for relying too heavily on the musical sting that has become so prevalent in modern horror. Even still, there is no denying this scare shook audience members to their core.