There is something absurdly masochistic about watching horror movies. From the earliest days of cinema, audiences everywhere have always enjoyed being scared out of their wits by the latest releases. Film-makers have a large bag of tricks at their disposal, designed solely to make viewers lose their minds in fear, but there's one particular technique that directors fall back on time and time again and that is the jump scare.
Sudden loud noises. Fast movement. A piercing scream. It's a simple combination, but it's one that has haunted cinema-goers for decades. Amateur directors have given jump scares a bad reputation in recent years, relying on jarring music and sloppy editing to desperately wring some tension out of a scene, but when done right, jump scares have created some of the most memorable moments in movie history.
Fear may be a subjective experience, but each of the moments selected on this list have scared audiences worldwide and therefore deserve the respect of movie fans everywhere, regardless of the actual movies overall quality.
Read on for the 10 most terrifying jump scares in horror movie history and remember to let us know what you think of these choices in the comments section below! Just bear in mind that this entire article is extremely spoiler heavy! You have been warned...
10. Hidden (Cache) (2005)
The Movie: Austrian auteur Michael Haneke stunned critics worldwide with the story of a married couple who receive a number of harrowing surveillance videotapes from an anonymous source. As the footage on each tape becomes more and more invasive, trust in personal relationships begins to break down and dark secrets come to the fore...
The Scare: In a hunt to discover who is terrorising his family, father and husband Georges (Daniel Auteuil) interrogates a friend called Majid (Maurice Benichou) who he believes is responsible for filming the tapes. The conversation appears relatively calm on the surface, but Majid is clearly unnerved by being falsely accused and reacts in the most unimaginable way, abruptly slashing his own throat in front of a horrified Georges.
Both he and the audience are left reeling by what has just taken place, leaving us permanently on edge for the rest of the film. Hidden is not typically classified as a horror movie, but this particular scene is one of the most terrifying jump scares ever committed to celluloid and it's a testament to Haneke's ability that he achieved this without the use of any jarring audio cues, relying solely on visual storytelling to create such a powerful impact.