Scientific reason why jump scares are so effective

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The woman woke up. She heard a creaking sound outside her bedroom. As if someone is stepping on the wood and it is groaning under the weight. Someone is in her house. She grabbed a torch light, opened the door and shone it down the hallway. There was no one. She turned off the torch.  And saw a figure. Startled, she switched on the torch again. There was no one. She switched if off. And there it was. That figure. Only this time it is closer. She flicked on the torch in fright. Again, there was one. Her finger dangled above the switch. And pressed it down. There was no figure. Heaving a sigh, she turned back. And BANG. The figure shoved its nails through her face. And everyone screams.

Of course, it might not be that scary when described but then again, no jump scare is scary when described. It must be viewed on the spot for it to scare the shit out of people. Basically, jump scares are defined as moments in the movie designed to provoke a largely reflexive fear response by means of jarring, sudden movements and changes in sound. It is that moment where the character thinks they’re safe, only to have a ghost appear suddenly behind them, scaring the shit out of him and catching the audience off guard, as well as jolting the living daylights out of them.


But have anyone here wondered before like why are they so scared and what makes the jump scare element the most effective element in  all horror movies? Maybe some might not give a shit but for the interested ones, here are 2 main reasons.

The first reason states that people like jump scares mainly because of the actual adrenaline rush of the scare itself right then and there, as compared who those who scares you bit by bit. Jump scares work differently: They make you think you are safe, then shock the shit of you .You see, when people get jump scared, their body immediately jolts, and thus produce a rush of adrenaline pumping through the body, leading to shorter, quicker breaths and a faster heart rate. Some people actually love this sudden adrenaline rush as they feel that it is similar to the rush given off via extreme sports but they do not have to risk their lives. They just need to get jump scared.

The second reason can be summarised in 3 words: Fear is Fun. Not only does it gives off adrenaline (refer to above), studies have also found out that being scared heightens the physiological state of the audience. It’s like you know that the jump scare is coming, but the fact you know it is coming then it does not come as expected and then you feel kind of disappointed, then out of nowhere the jump scare and you almost got scared to death. And the fact that the haunting music, the loud scream made during the jump scares seeing your fellow movie goers screaming and being sacred out of their wits does not help one bit and makes the jump scare more effective. That feeling can never be described in words. The only way to experience that feeling is to watch a good jump scare movie yourself.

For instance, you know that jump scare is incoming at the corridor but with each every step the character take towards the corridor, you feel that he is walking closer and closer and when he reaches the corridor, you brace yourself. But nothing happens. Then you let down your guard. Then BOOM. Jump scare out of nowhere!

Due to this intense scare moments, its raises an intensifying emotions the audience feel during the movie, and making any dramatic endings at the end (usually the one final jump scare) that much more satisfying. As such, with this in mind, you can say that being scared may actually make movie more horrifying and the jump scares, scarier. But at the end of the day, it is all about psychological factors. The jump scare makers know that the more scared you are, the scarier the jump scare, and thus plays on this knowledge to make you let your guard down, then scare the pee out of you! It’s all in your head actually.

So, in conclusion, this is why jump scares are so effective and scary. So next time, before you watch a horror movie, just remember it is all in your head. But then it is the knowledge that it is in your head that makes the jump scare all the more effective and scary. But hey, it’s just a movie. No need to over think it. Jump scares are scary. End of story. So sit back, relax and happy screaming.