Horror fans are often divided on the issue of jump scares, with some calling them cheap while others point to examples of films that use them effectively. The Conjuring, for instance, was incredibly jump-heavy yet also a critical success.
Meanwhile, the most recent entry in the Conjuring Universe was a critical failure due to its reliance on jumps while adding nothing else to the mix. The Curse Of La Llorona currently stands at 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, taking a classic creepy story and telling it through a series of predictable and boring jump scares - most of which you've seen in the trailers.
When a film with so much story potential fails this hard, it strengthens the argument that jump scares are becoming overused. Even some of the best horror movies of all time include at least a handful of minor jumps. For instance, Alien has 11 while The Exorcist only has one less. The Omen and Audition are less shock-heavy, but still have one jump scare each.
If you're looking for movies with no jump scares at all, however, there are at least a few options available. The following 12 films vary in terms of fright level, genre adherence and general quality. All of them will make an impact without once trying to make you spill your popcorn.
12. The ABCs Of Death (2012)
Arguably the least "incredible" film on this list, this anthology containing 26 shorts by various directors will nonetheless be worth at least one viewing for avid fans of the genre. Most of the shorts fail horrendously to hit their mark, but a few will linger in the viewers' memories as solid examples of how to make your audience experience true dread with just a few minutes' worth of story.
Not all shorts contained within The ABCs Of Death are necessarily horror-themed. The film also contains oddball comedy (K Is For Klutz), arthouse weirdness (O Is For Orgasm), and cutely innocent romance (F Is For Fart). Meanwhile, some of the more traditional horror entries are unsettling for all of the wrong reasons. L Is For Libido contains more semen than some pornographic films, not to mention a disturbing moment of child sexual abuse. Z Is For Zetsumetsu relies on similarly uncomfortable sexual imagery, while X Is For XXL offers nothing more than a non-stop cringe fest.
Other shorts, however, give the film a bit more value. R Is For Removed, one of the strangest shorts on offer, tells a bizarre story that will test the limits of your imagination. U Is For Unearthed offers a unique take on vampire movies, in which the creature is the true victim of the story. H Is For Hydro-Electric Diffusion is basically a live-action cartoon, and Lee Hardcastle's claymation short, T Is For Toilet, is by far the best of the film's three toilet-themed entries.
Probably the most incredible aspect of The ABCs Of Death is simply that, out of 26 shorts, not a single one makes use of jump scares. Aside from that, this uneven anthology serves to expand your horizons and push your understanding of what horror can - and sometimes cannot - achieve. For as many of the shorts as you're inevitably going to hate, you'll find at least one or two that stick with you as fine examples of creative filmmaking.
You just might want to spread it out over a few sittings to help cleanse your palate after some of the more disturbing shorts contained within.