Michael C here. I recently caught up with Andres Muschietti’s Mama and found it to be a decent little chiller with one particularly irksome habit. It is packed end-to-end with cheap jump scares. It’s as if the studio insisted the director include a quota of brainless “Boo!” moments amid all the creepy suspense stuff that takes actual filmmaking skill.
Savvy filmgoers understand that jump scares are the worst. Apart from the fact that it requires roughly the same level of craft to startle someone with a loud noise as it does to zap them with a seat buzzer, they have the added drawback of creating distance between the audience and the film. They release tension, rather than build it. This explains their popularity among teenagers who see horror movies as a carnival ride, doling out empty “scares” with mechanical timing.
So finding a minefield of these cheap shots in another otherwise capable spook story like Mama got me thinking. Are there any defensible examples of the jump scare? Or is it an artistic sin every time it’s trotted out?
jump scares after, um, the jump.