It's fair to say that jump scares are one of the more divisive elements of the horror genre, typically because they're so often employed for cheap shock value rather than because they serve the story or characters within.
When they're loaded with meaning and executed in unconventional fashion with plenty of fresh style, though, they can elevate an already unsettling movie to become legitimately terrifying.
Whether straight horror movies or not, these 15 films made fantastic use of a filmmaking trick that's often overused in a lazy bid to get the teens giggling, but when actual thought and creativity is put into it, it can result in immensely primal movie moments you won't soon forget.
From horrifying monster reveals to surprise endings, these jump scares prove just how effective the tool can be in the right hands, and just how badly most modern horror films are at it (unless they're directed by James Wan, apparently)...
15. The Xenomorph Surprises Dallas - Alien
Though Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi masterpiece is generally heralded for its restraint and slow-building suspense, it does occasionally go full-tilt horror, as with the bracingly visceral jump scare when Dallas (Tom Skerritt) is surprised by the xenomorph.
The low lighting and loud screech of the creature, combined with the audience's belief (at least at the time) that an established star like Skerritt would survive until the end of the movie, made this one of the most intense jump scares ever.
Plus, without loud tension chords and given how infrequently the xeno shows up throughout the film, it didn't feel like a cheap attempt to shock but rather a well-earned scare.