THIS JUSTIN: The Fine Art Of The Jump Scare

Welcome to THIS JUSTIN, a column dedicated to my love of all things weird and spooky. Each week I’ll be taking you on a deep dive into something creepy and/or crawly and talking your ear off about why I love it so much. Spoilers ahead for every movie I’m gonna be talking about so stop reading if you don’t want a movie ruined for you.

The time has come: it’s spooky season! Now, as you may have figured out, it’s always spooky season for the ghouls here at Horror Business and Cinepunx. But for this edition of THIS JUSTIN I wanted to do something special for Halloween, so I’m gonna talk about jump scares!

The purpose of a horror film is simple: to evoke fear and dread and revulsion in the viewer. Sometimes this can be done with straight up gore and violence and rub the viewers face in it. Other times, a film can take a sly and sneaky approach, crafting an intricate atmosphere of unease and disquiet before dropping a bomb on them or simply leaving them jumpy and afraid and then moving on to the next scene. There is, however, a middle ground to these approaches: the oft reviled while still just as widely praised phenomenon of the jump scare.

Put in the simplest terms, a jump scare is a “boo!” moment in a horror film: we are suddenly shown something shocking, often accompanied by a jarring audio cue to trigger our sense of hearing as well. In modern horror circles, where there are unbearable dickheads clambering to the top of the shit mountain so they can decry all films made after December 31st, 1989, the jump scare has almost a pejorative flavor to it. They’re described as cheap, or overdone, or not really scary. Some people dislike them because it causes too much of an unpleasant involuntary reaction in them. And others just find them annoying because they’re seen as predictable and silly.

I’ll cut right to the chase: I love a good jump scare. Gimme a good, well crafted, patiently executed jump scared any day and I’m happy. But let me be clear, most jump scares are kind of cheap, because way too many of them rely on the loud audio cue far more than the actual set up and imagery of said jump scare. Instead of scaring us with something spooky, way too many jump scares do rely on making us involuntarily jump at a sudden noise. It’s not that we’re scared per se, just startled. And merely startling someone isn’t at all the goal of a horror film. So, there is an art to a good jump scare. Otherwise it’s just cheap noise and bluster.

So, here we are: my favorite jump scares of all time. Tons of spoilers ahead, so tread carefully, but here you go.

 

  1. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – Large Marge. Any list on jump scares written by someone from my generation sure as shit better include this. As a child, this scene scared me so bad I ran to my room and refused to come out from under the blankets. It all plays like a classic ghost story and is predictable as hell, and Paul Reubens reaction to Marge’s ghastly transformation all but robs the scene of any lingering fear—but good god is that shot of a ghostly Marge absolutely shocking to see even now.

 

  1. The Conjuring 2 – The Crooked Man in The Tent. Yes, I know, these movies suck, something something CGI, whatever. I’ll go to bat for this film and say it has more than a handful of genuinely frightening moments, the least of which is the scene at the end involving Javier Botet’s unsettling Crooked Man. Patrick Wilson is stumbling through the Hodgson home, partially blinded from a steam pipe. The POV keeps going back and forth from first to third person, and of course we’re being led to believe that any second we’re going to see something blurry and monstrous from his POV. However, when he goes upstairs to the second floor, he sees at the end of the hallway the youngest Hodgson boys’ tent, which earlier in the film had been something of an epicenter for spooky activity. He goes for a look inside, and while in there comes face to face with the Crooked Man. The beauty of this shot is that we’d been expecting something to happen for at least a minute so we, the audience, are jazzed up as all hell, and when we finally see the Crooked Man just sticking his head under the blanket and leering at Wilson, it’s super effective.

 

  1. House On Haunted Hill – Mrs. Slydes. What makes this scene even more striking is how weirdly out of time it feels. Rather than just something traditionally spooky, this scene is somewhat intricately set up visually. While Nora Manning is listening for the taps from the other side of the wall from Lance Schroeder, the camera is tight on her as she bends down, so our field of view is restricted to just her. Then when she stands back up and the camera follows her, the ghastly visage of Mrs. Slydes is revealed. To make things even creepier, the actor playing Mrs. Slydes is pulled out of the room on a wheeled board, so it looks like she’s gliding out instead of walking. It’s a simple but very creepy bit of FX, and it makes for quite the memorable scare.

  1. Evil Dead – Scott coming back from the dead. This film has its fair share of jump scares, and almost all of them are really fucking good. The buildup to Cheryl revealing she’s possessed is amazing and the scare in that scene is legendary. But the scene that always scared the hell out of me and is still god tier for me is when Ash’s friend Scott, moments after dying in Ash’s arms from injuries sustained by killer trees, suddenly sits up possessed and roaring. What makes it so jarring is that our POV is low and behind Ash as he’s at the door trying to keep a possessed Cheryl from getting in, and we don’t even see Scott’s body lying just out of frame until he sits up, all gnarly and fucked up, making a weird growling noise. It looks ridiculous moments later when he attacks Ash, but that first shot of him reanimated is scary as hell.

  1. Insidious – The Lipstick Demon reveal. I’ve got a weird opinion on this film. I think it starts out really, really scary and maintains that feeling through the first two acts. Most of the third act is legit frightening as well. I think the scenes set in the Further are weird in the best way and feel like you’re experiencing something after taking Ny-Quil. The film becomes almost laughable when the demon responsible for it all is revealed full frontally towards the end and is so corny it drags the rest of this film down for me. But the jump scare in this film, the one you’ve seen in trailers and is on every list of jump scares, is there for a reason. The shot itself of the grinning demon leering at Barbara Hershey from behind Patrick Wilson is scary enough, but the set up to that scene really sets the tone. Hershey’s recounting of a nightmare she had about her grandson, and what she saw in his room, and then hearing that creepy clattering noise makes the reveal of the demon behind her son super effective.

  1. The Sixth Sense – Mischa Barton in the tent. Much of the horror of The Sixth Sense comes from empathizing with a child being driven to madness by his ability to see and hear the spirits of the departed, and goddamn does Haley Joel Osmont really nail that role. Sure, the “I see dead people” line has been mercilessly beat into the ground and parodied by the utterly hilarious and excruciatingly unfunny alike, but when that movie first came out, it was genuinely upsetting to think about a kid going through that. Oh, and also the ghosts are pretty scary too. But, weirdly enough, it’s not any of the hostile ghosts that young Cole Sears encounters that provides the jump scare in this film. Instead, it’s the ghost of a young girl who recently died under sinister circumstances. She means no harm and just wants closure, but the way M. Night Shymalan guides us along to the sight of her is amazing. First the drop in temperature signifying the supernatural is present, and then the camera following the progression of the seam in his tent coming undone all the way to the shocking sight of a sickly girl weeping and vomiting. It’s so well done that it brings a real sense of actual fright to a film that is mostly mired in the horror of a child in distress more than anything else.

  1. The Conjuring – hand claps. This is another example of a long drawn out sequence having a payoff that, even though you see it coming from a mile away, is still startling. I can’t even fathom how scary this scene would have been if it weren’t in the trailer and I didn’t figure out what was coming when I first saw it. But I can’t tell you that the feeling of dread that settled over me once I realized what the scene was guiding me towards was the exact kind of fear I love being evoked in me by a film. The slow burn panic that becomes more and more apparent in Lily Taylor as she realizes something isn’t right is so genuine and effective, and by the time you’re in the place that trailer puts you (a dark basement) you’re already so amped up that when the hands appear behind her it’s like you’re wholly unprepared.

  1. The Lost Boys – Max and the kite. Even though in retrospect it shows a more wholesome side of the head vampire Max (he legitimately cares for Thorn, the so-called hound from hell! He’s not all bad!) and it’s meant as a red herring that is, at best, half-assed because the film does a brilliant job of throwing an even bigger red herring at us, this scene where the vampires are apparently fucking with him is, on first viewing, really scary. It’s meant on a superficial level to include Max as a character in danger, and it does a fairly decent job of building a creepy atmosphere before hitting us with the actual scare—a kite in the shape of a monstrous bat being flown at Max by a vamped-out Alex Winters. It’s a classic jump scare in every way, from the buildup to the execution, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s a fine example of the method and more importantly it actually serves a purpose in the overall plot of the film.

  1. Signs – the Mexican birthday video. My favorite thing about this scene is how perfect Joaquin Phoenix is as the audience surrogate. At this point in the film, we’re already waist deep in weird, possibly alien related activity. We’ve heard a little girl talk about a monster on the roof, (frightening) we’ve seen Mel Gibson get stalked by something in a cornfield (extremely frightening) and it’s clear by now that the film is building towards something extraordinary. The scene in question comes while Phoenix is watching the news for coverage on the worldwide phenomenon of crop circles and strange lights in the sky, when a breaking news report comes in of a birthday party in Mexico that is interrupted by an uninvited guest. Phoenix is shown wide-eyed and raptly focused on the TV, inches away and urging the children to move so he can see. Much as we the audience are doing. When we finally do the see the alien Patterson-Gimlin style, Phoenix’s reaction very likely mirrors ours: he gasps shouts and covers his mouth in a shocked reaction, jumping back from the screen in fear. Only when it’s finished do we realize how we were drawn in by his performance just as much as we are by the actual sight of the alien.

  1. Jaws – Ben Gardner’s head. Yes, the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” scene is definitely the moment in this film that really shows how much of an amazing filmmaker Spielberg is going to go on to be. And no, Ben Gardener’s head being in the wreckage of his boat makes zero sense. But…it’s still really fucking scary and gets me almost every time. The creepy atmosphere, the fact that danger is most definitely nearby, and the loud musical cue. It’s all there. And, much like the kite scene from The Lost Boys, it also serves a narrative purpose: it scares Hooper bad enough that he drops the shot glass sized tooth he pulled out of the hull and thus has no evidence for the stupid mayor to see, which pushes the narrative along in a fun way.

  1. Alien – Dallas’ death. One of my favorite things about Alien (and honestly of the few ways I think it’s superior to its James Cameron-helmed sequel) is how there are no throwaway characters. There are no redshirts, no characters whose deaths mean nothing to the audience. Every character in this film is super competent and likeable, and every death hit like a hammer. Tom Skerritt’s Captain Dallas is no exception, and while his death isn’t the most upsetting in the film (thank you Veronica Cartwright and Yaffat Kotto) it’s certainly the scariest. Dallas gets got while hunting the xenomorph through a labyrinth of air ducts armed with a flamethrower. He can’t track the alien himself, but he’s in radio contact with the rest of the crew who are tracking it via motion detector. The whole scene is them warning him how it’s getting closer and closer, with the beeping of the tracker becoming louder and louder, and there’s a delicious tension rising up throughout the whole scene. Dallas finally begins to try and leave the area, and there’s one or two turns he makes before bang! we see the alien freakishly reach out from the darkness of a tunnel, shrieking horribly. It’s short, sweet, and terrifying.

  1. The Blob – Eddie’s death. A remake that makes the original look like a classic example of amateur hour, Chuck Russell’s 1988 version of The Blob is a film that to this day holds a special place in my heart because of how texturally upsetting it is. There’s so much gooey nastiness in this film that it’s almost nauseating. What makes this scene extraordinary is that most of the film doesn’t rely on anything but good old-fashioned unsettling imagery. The FX in this film are absolutely bonkers, and truly sell a vision of a mass of carnivorous protoplasm eating people alive. It’s extremely disturbing, and the death of our heroine Meg’s younger brothers friend Eddie is even more so unsettling. Meg, Eddie, and her brother Kevin are chased into the sewer by the Blob, and as they’re struggling to find their way out, the Blob finds them while they’re wading through chest deep sewer water. As Kevin is climbing up a ladder to the surface, Eddie is grabbed and dragged underwater by the unseen Blob. Now, the film could have just left Eddie’s fate implied. It could have just had it drag him underwater and out of sight and been like ‘welp Eddie’s fucked let’s get the heck out of here!’ Instead, we’re treated to the sight of a teenage boy lurching out of the water at his friend’s older sister, half dissolved by whatever freakish acid the Blob uses to eat its prey, skin hanging off of him and skull exposed, before being again dragged under and presumably devoured.

  1. Hereditary – car tongue cluck. Arguably the most upsetting and simple entry on this list. If you’ve seen it, you know it. It’s the textbook example of doing a lot with a little. Toni Collette’s reaction makes it all the visceral and horrifying. It’s masterful and Ari Aster is a wizard.

  1. Night Of The Living Dead (90) – weird yellow zombie. There’s quite a few classic run of the mill jump scares in Savini’s (woefully underrated) remake of Night Of The Living Dead, but none of them are as memorable as this one. This scene is here not so much for execution but more for just how visually shocking it is. The survivors are arguing in the house about the nature of the ghouls, with Cooper and his idiot companions believing them to be alive but sick while Ben and Barbara are rightfully arguing that they’re dead. After Barbara puts a bullet in the head of the unfortunate and reanimated Mr. MacGruder, Judi Rose is screaming at her about how “she killed Mr. MacGruder!!!” and Ben and Tom go to throw the body out the door when suddenly a shirtless, sallow-skinned, and emaciated zombie kind of unfolds into the doorway, eerily hissing and reaching wildly for the group as Judi shrieks and Barbara pumps round after round into him to prove that yes, the dead are coming back to life and the only way to stop them is by shooting them in the head. It’s a very emotionally charged moment made all the more shocking by the grotesque appearance of the zombie. Apparently, the actor who played this zombie was a cab driver who Tom Savini had met and was so enamored with how he looked he cast him in the film.

  1. It Follows – tall man entering room. It Follows is packed to the gills with tension and horrifying imagery, and it is steady and relentless as the titular entity. Much of the fear in this film comes from the long shots of the entity plodding slowly but assuredly towards Jay and the accompanying realization that, much like our favorite killer robot from one possible future, it will not stop, ever, until Jay is dead. That being said, there are a handful of shots in this film that are classic visual feasts for fans of the outright horrifying. The one scene in particular that got me opening night is when Jay sees the entity first in the kitchen of her own house (as a woman urinating herself). Jay runs upstairs, rightfully terrified, and her friends soon join her, trying to calm her down. The bedroom door rattles—something is trying to get in. They open the door, and it’s just their third friend Yara. There’s a moment of peace, just a heartbeats worth of time where you think this was all just a false start when suddenly in the darkness behind Yara, the form of a grotesquely tall man with empty eye sockets rapidly takes shape and then monstrously blossoms into the room to chase Jay. It’s startling because it gives us no time to think about what we’re seeing. Earlier in the film, we’re at least given a chance of asking ourselves if we’re seeing the creature in the background or if it’s just a pedestrian. Here, by the time we begin to wonder what we’re seeing, we’re forced to realize this is another form the entity has taken.

  1. It – Pennywise jumping out of the project. I’d say about ninety percent of the effectiveness of this scene comes from the work Andy Muschietti does in setting it up. The Losers are gathered in a dark garage using a slide projector to try and track It’s movements when suddenly the slide projector begins working on its own. Gradually, a picture of Bill’s mother and late younger brother become a vehicle for It to mock him, with his mother’s face becoming that of Pennywise under her unnaturally animated and flowing hair. When the projector gets knocked over, it’s still projecting an image onto the screen and clicking through slides, but it’s the same image: a blurry but recognizable image of Pennywise. At first, the viewer is led to believe that this is what we’re going to see next. Then, on the next click, there’s a blank screen. Then, on the next click, Pennywise Itself bursts from the screen, cackling like a maniac through a mouth full of deep-sea fish teeth. It’s perfectly executed, and a brilliant combination of patient set up and explosive balls to the walls visuals. Opening night, what made that scene even more effective is that much of it was shown in the trailer, but was followed by the scene in the bathroom where Bev is grabbed by Pennywise (also terrifying), so the audience going into it believed they knew what was coming to a certain degree and were caught completely off guard.

  1. Dog Soldiers – Terry’s death. Well, him getting dragged outside anyway. His death is actually a slow and painful affair we see shortly thereafter, but the shot of him getting pulled out of a window is nonetheless startling. Much of it comes from the fact that unlike the rest of the soldiers in this film, Terry is quiet, reserved, and not full of macho bluster. While the glory of this film is that it’s quite clear all of the soldiers are afraid, only Terry has a traditional reaction to being trapped in an isolated cottage hours away from help while werewolves are stalking them: he vomits in fear at one point and is constantly quite visibly upset. He’s a softy but in a good way, a fearful man but not a coward, and it’s heartbreaking when, after he makes a quip about the werewolves not being that tough after all after a skirmish, a werewolf suddenly bursts through the window behind him and drags him outside. It’s already shocking on the heels of the one moment when Terry allows himself a small repose from the grim persona he’s had the whole film; what’s worse is minutes later when Joe makes it to the barn to the spare jeep and witnesses a werewolf eating Terry alive as he weakly reaches out towards Joe before the werewolf tears his head off and heartlessly tosses it at Joe.

  1. Mama – “she’s mad.” I’ll be honest: the first time I watched this movie I was captivated by how fantastic it was. It reminded me of something Guillermo del Toro would make, and not just because of it’s Latin American roots. Mama has that distinct stamp of Torian fantasy to it, almost like a dark fairy tale. There’s a ton of well-done straightforward horrific imagery in this film. I remember watching it for the first time with my feet hanging over the bed during the scene in which Mama is under the bed watching the one sister talk to her aunt and feeling immediately threatened by the possibility that maybe Mama was under my bed. Who knows? Anyway, this scene is so jaggedly frightening that it still creeps me out when I watch it. When the young girls in the film find Mama downstairs, there’s a beat of silence and then Mama frantically and frenziedly scampers towards them in that horrifying nightmare way. It’s that beat of no action between us seeing Mama and then her rushing at the camera that really makes this scene something else. At this point, the aesthetics that Andy Muschietti uses in Mama are kind of beat to death, but when this film came out, they were still fresh and terrifying, and this whole scene is wrought with delicious nightmare imagery. Crackly boned ghosts may be a tired device by now, but this scene uses them to astonishingly terrifying effectiveness.

  1. Don’t Look Now – the reveal of the killer. What a weird, beautiful, terrifying fever dream of a film. Don’t Look Now is one of those movies that wields dream logic like a scalpel to devastating effect, combining a truly shocking opening moment, (the death of a child) an insanely weird middle section (the claustrophobic streets of Venice) with the scene I’m about to talk about. While much of the film focuses on the horror of losing a child and the grief that a couple deals within the aftermath of such a devastating event, the ending of this film takes a turn straight into nightmare land. After chasing a child-like figure in a red raincoat (the same raincoat his daughter was wearing when she died) Donald Sutherland finally corners the figure in an empty building and approaches it. Half out of his mind with grief and believing that maybe somehow the figure is his daughter, the figure turns around and is revealed to be a ghastly female dwarf wielding a knife. As Sutherland stares aghast at this creature, it viciously slices his throat and leaves him to die. The whole sequence is so unexpected and violent after a movie that is largely atmospheric and ethereal, and the sudden plunge into what feels almost like a Giallo film is like diving into a cold swimming pool after lounging in a hot tub.

  1. The Sentinel – Father Hallihan walking across the room. Another great one two punch. After hearing noises in the apartment above her in the middle of the night, Cristina Raines goes up to investigate. As she walks through the darkened apartment, we see a door slowly swing open behind her, revealing an emaciated silhouette. Suddenly, John Carradine, ghastly white, skeletal thin, and clad only in his underwear, strides out of the shadows from one corner of the room into the opposite corner. That alone is shocking enough, but when Raines moves to see if he’s okay and he turns to her blindly leering in the harsh light of her flashlight to the accompanying hooting warbling musical cue, it’s enough to make your heart leap into your throat.

  1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Leatherface in the doorway. A classic. The scene everyone talks about from this film, and rightfully so. TCM is a weird movie that should be awash in gore and blood, but instead relies more on straight up upsetting imagery and human anguish to create the mood it sets out to establish (don’t worry though; the second installment in the franchise more than makes up for the lack of gore in this film). It feels transgressive and wrong, like we’re seeing something we shouldn’t be seeing. I recently described this film as looking like a full-length version of the Zapruder film to my niece, in that it’s a grainy and scratchy accidental documentation of something horrible unfolding in front of us. And nothing in this film is more shocking and horrible than when Leatherface emerges from a hallway to bludgeon one of the unfortunate folks who wandered onto his farm. Kirk, the luckless victim, walks into the house to see if he can find anyone to help them, when suddenly out of a doorway, Leatherface appears and bludgeons him with a sledgehammer. It’s such a gut punch of a scene; the way the camera pans up and zooms in on Leatherface as he raises the hammer, the grisly crack of the hammer as it connects with Kirk’s skull, the weird frenzied way Kirk’s legs are still kicking when Leatherface drags him into the hallway, and the frantic and the almost angry way Leatherface slams the sliding door shut. And on top of all that is the sound of hogs squealing in the background, a sort of hellish ambience to make us even more upset.

  1. An American Werewolf In London – Jack’s death. Set up to this scene is absolutely brilliant. Griffin Dunne and David Naughton, having foolishly wandered off the moors instead of sticking to the road, realize they’re in over their heads when they hear something bestial and unearthly howling out in the night. At first, Dunne tries to keep up a steady stream of comedic patter, but as it becomes apparent that they’re in a very real danger the panic overcomes both of them and they begin running frantically in the direction they think the town is in. The false alarm comes when David trips, and they have a brief laugh as Jack goes to help David up and then bang…Jack gets blindsided by the werewolf. It’s a perfectly executed scene: build up, followed by an apparent comedic release which drops our guard, and then the hammer falls and we’re frightened out of our heads. What makes the scene even more of a bummer is David immediately takes off running and leaves Jack behind before coming to his senses and running back to try and help his friend. Meanwhile, the shots of David running are intercut with shots of Jack being violently mauled to death. It’s a devastatingly frightening scene that comes after masterful build up and then offers no reprise.

  1. The Thing – the blood test. John Carpenter’s 1982 re-imagining of the ‘50s B-movie The Thing From Another World is drenched in a simmering paranoia that is constantly threatening to boil over into out and out violence, human or otherwise. After the gooey and visceral scene in which the Norris-thing literally explodes a smaller version of itself out of its chest after killing Copper and it’s severed head attempts to run away, MacReady finally comes up with a way to prove once and for all who’s human and who’s not. We’ve got the entire cast aside for Kurt Russell and Thomas G. Waites tied up and helpless, and Mac is explaining the method behind the test. There’s no music, no sound at all besides the men talking and the steady hiss of the flamethrower. One by one, the tests come back negative, each time with us expecting something to happen. When Childs and Garry being haranguing Mac about how the test doesn’t mean anything, it’s a subtle way of directing us to believe their samples are the ones that something will happen to, and just as Mac makes it clear he thinks Garry is the Thing, he presses the hot wire into Palmer’s sample and the blood shrieks and explodes out of the petri dish as Palmer begins vibrating and bleeding and dissolving into a lumpy mess of protoplasm that attacks a hapless Windows. It’s brilliant.

  1. The Exorcist III – the scissor scene. If there’s ever a college course on how to make an effective horror film, this scene should be shown when it comes to crafting a jump scare. William Peter Blatty stretches the scene out for an agonizingly long time, using everything from misdirecting noises off screen, mimicking the set up to a jump scare beat by beat and leading us to think the attack could come at any time, and best off all several long uncut shots down a hallway that keeps our eyes in a specific area of the shot. The scene starts tensely, leading us to believe the scare is imminent, and maintains the tension with several red herrings. By the time the camera starts slowly pulling in to the end of the hallway at the nurses desk, we’ve relaxed a bit and gotten accustomed to the tension, and just when it seems like the nurse is doing another mundane task of opening a door to check on a patient it strikes: a figure in all white flowing hoods and robes comes striding out wielding a giant pair of scissors at the nurse accompanied by a stabbing dissonant musical score and a jump cut to a headless statue says all we need to know. It’s absolutely brilliant on a technical and visceral level.

  1. Mulholland Drive – the monster behind Winky’s. And here we are. Number one. I’m not sure if I’d call Mulholland Drive a horror film, but goddamn this entire scene is like watching a nightmare played out on celluloid. The entire setup in the diner where Michael Cooke is listening to Patrick Fischler talk about a re-occurring nightmare he’s been having about a scary looking man behind the diner who is making him feel unsettled all the time. He’s describing the diner at sunset, and where Cooke is standing, and as they begin to re-enact the nightmare in an attempt to sort of cathartically take care of Fischler’s fear, the dread begins building as the camera follows them out of the diner, lingering over seemingly minor details in a dreamlike fashion and heightening the nightmarish tension of it all. They approach the wall behind the dumpster, and the camera alternates between Fischler and the edge of the wall, pulling in tighter every time, until, to a low grinding screeching noise, the Man Behind The Dumpster, looking fucking ghoulish and unlike anything you could have predicted (and played by the amazing Bonnie Aarons) slides into view, literally scaring Fischler to death and almost doing the same to the viewer. It’s such an odd and unearthly scene that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the film and honestly defies all attempts to really describe how grotesquely shocking it is. Much like the scene from the third Exorcist film, this sequence is a masterful example of how to create a truly frightening jump scare; it heightens the feeling of the actual scare but suddenly cutting to a close up of the wall behind which the monster appears just before it does so, thus forcing our attention on that small area of the shot.  But unlike the the scene from that film it takes the fear to a whole new level with just how weird the thing doing the scaring is. Bonnie Aarons as…whatever that thing is would be bad enough on its own. But when it’s flung at the viewer the way Lynch presents it, it makes all other jump scares seem bush league in comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Lore
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