For decades, horror filmmakers have been terrifying audiences with various genre conventions. The POV Shot pioneered by John Carpenter in Halloween. The grotesque use of practical effects in The Thing and The Exorcist. The Final Girl in slasher films like Friday The 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street. These tropes have made the genre what it is today.
In recent years, one of the most cliched horror tropes has been the jump scare. A mix of timing and sound design, the jump scare is an effective way of getting the most visceral reaction out of your audience.
While the jump scare has been around for decades, the 2010s saw it be used to death. With many generic horror films using jump scares as a way to simply spice up the dull, flavourless film that we are being presented. Cough...Chernobyl Diaries...Cough.
If used effectively, a jump scare can elevate a film, hence why a lot of low budget indie horrors use the trope. It takes a master filmmaker craft a GOOD jump scare, something that is few and far between in modern horror, but all of the following films absolutely nailed it.
10. The Invisible Man (2020)
Blumhouse Productions have become a staple of the horror genre in the 2010s. Studio head Jason Blum has given filmmakers creative freedom and offered some of the most unique and well-structured horror movies of the last decade as a result.
One of these was the stellar reinvention of The Invisible Man. Made with a budget of only $7 million, the film uses clever cinematography to create a tense atmosphere throughout the two-hour run time, while also being peppered with some incredible jump scares.
The best comes in the second act of the film. Our lead, Cecilia, is exploring her attic, convinced the Invisible Man has been spying on her. When she ventures up into the attic, she discovers that he has been taking revealing pictures of her. Slowly, she crawls over to the attic door and throws white paint straight through, revealing The Invisible Man in the hatch.
The use of the camera is key to this scene. The way the hatch is framed in an over-the-shoulder shot gives viewers a perfect view of what is about to happen. This is paired with the ghostly outline that is left by the paint, leaving viewers feeling deeply unsettled as the film powers into its terrific third act.