The cheap art of jump scares


By Chandler Walter, Editor-in-Chief


First off, a very happy Halloween to you all! Assuming that production went as scheduled and we didn’t totally mess up this week, these papers should be on their happy little stands around the college on Tuesday… meaning today is October 31.

Even though this might only be relevant for one day (or half a day, depending on how long it takes our Distribution Manager Jacey to get these distributed, but I have faith in the man) I figured I’d pen my Lettitor this week to talk about something that’s always on my mind when the end of October rolls around: Jump scares.

Here’s a quick definition from the always factual and dependable

Jump Scare: A tactic used in horror movies to scare people, the jump scare is used by unimaginative filmmakers as a cheap method of frightening the audience; i.e, making them literally “jump” out of their seats. This device is increasingly employed in modern horror movies, along with gratuitous amounts of gore, because the directors have forgotten how to actually scare people.

Having recently walked—and at one point crawled—my way through Vancouver’s Dream Horror Haunted House, I’ve been a recent victim to the infamous jump scare, and I’ve gotta agree with the anonymous Urban Dictionary writer’s criticisms of the technique (thank you for your written work, brave soul).

Yeah, it’s fun to feel the adrenaline jolt through you when someone in a clown mask pops out at you and yells in your ear, but the shtick can get old fast, especially when used in horror movies.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of the horror genre, and it’s not for lack of viewing. Good horror movies can be seriously great, and affect an audience in ways that no other movie can; if you’re lying in bed awake at night, unable to fall asleep because the images of whatever horror you just witnessed are burned into your retina, then yeah, I’d say that was a damn good movie.

The thing is, the genre has become so watered down by movies that use jump scares as their main bread and butter that even shelling out Cineplex’s increasingly ridiculous prices for a horror movie can often feel like taking a gamble.

It’s an easy thing to dull yourself to, too, if you know it’s coming. When the music swells, and the attractive blonde is walking through the woods with nothing but a broken flashlight as a weapon, it’s kind of obviously that something scary be coming this way.

If the movie instead decides to omit the jump scare, and have her discover some underground death den of total creepiness that is apparently owned by the nice and kind Old Man Jenkins; well, that could very well steer the movie away from the lukewarm “kind of startling” and down the road of “holy shit terrifying.”


The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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