These Are The Biggest Jump Scare Moments In Film History

By Ellie Smith

9 months ago

20 movie scenes that will make you jump out of your skin

Love it or hate it, the jump scare is a staple of horror movies – a failsafe way for directors to raise their viewers’ heart rates. It’s a tool as old as time: create an aura of foreboding, keep the tension building up and up until suddenly: BAM, a killer appears from behind a door, a dead body is revealed, or something explodes. One of the earliest examples in cinematic history is seen in The Phantom of the Opera, where The Phantom’s disfigured face is revealed. But which are the scariest of all time? A new survey has quizzed the nation on the biggest jump scare moments from films – here’s what made the list.

These Are The Biggest Jump Scare Moments In Film History

The research, commissioned by Papa Johns, saw 2,000 British film fans surveyed on the jumpiest film moments of all time. Taking the top spot with 31 percent of the vote was the scene in Jaws where Hooper discover’s fisherman Ben Gardener’s head on a boat – eye missing and veins dangling from the socket. Certainly one to prompt a scream.


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A close second was the infamous 45-second shower scene in Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, which sees Janet Leigh suddenly stabbed to death while showering in the creepy Bates Motel. Others to make the top five included the moment in Alien when Dallas discovers an alien in an air shaft, and Drew Barrymore’s character Casey seeing Ghostface for the first time in cult classic Scream

From more modern films, there’s the spine-tingling basement scene (a basement scene is always bad news) in The Conjuring, when Carolyn is met by a pair of ghostly arms, which clap from behind her shoulder. And let’s not forget about the moment in the 2017 film It when the shapeshifting monster known as Pennywise comes out of the screen while the children watch an old film.

Despite these jumpy moments, though, it seems we’re not shying away from horror movies: almost half of people surveyed said horror is their favourite genre. You can find the full list of jump scares below – a watchlist for this Halloween, perhaps?

20 Biggest Jump Scares In Film History

  1. Jaws (1978): Hooper finds fishermen Ben Gardner’s boat – and his head
  2. Psycho (1960): The shower scene
  3. Alien (1979): Dallas suddenly discovers the alien in an air shaft 
  4. Carrie (1976): Carrie’s hand bursts from her grave
  5. Scream (1996):  Drew Barrymore’s Casey sees Ghostface for the first time
  6. Friday 13th (1980): Jason Voorhees jumps out of the water of Crystal Lake
  7. Poltergeist (1982): Robbie’s clown doll comes to life
  8. It (2017): Pennywise comes out of the screen as the children watch an old scratchy film
  9. Insidious (2010): The red-faced demon appears behind Josh
  10. What Lies Beneath (2000): While paralysed in the bathtub, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Claire suddenly turns into a corpse
  11. Se7en (1995): Mills and Somerset discover a body that isn’t quite dead
  12. The Grudge (2004): A screaming woman slams her hand against the car window
  13. The Conjuring (2013): Carolyn is beset by a clapping ghost in the dark basement
  14. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010): The kitchen explosion scene
  15. A Quiet Place (2018): Beau’s noisy spaceship gets him taken by a monster
  16. The Descent (2005): Trapped in a cave system, Sarah discovers the Crawlers for the first time
  17. Hereditary (2018): Peter wakes up and his mum, who is possessed by a demon, is crawling on the ceiling
  18. The Invisible Man (2020): Cecilia pours white paint from the attic and the invisible man is right in front of her
  19. Sinister (2012): Bughuul’s face appears just before the credits roll
  20. Lights Out (2016): The opening scene when Rebecca turns off the light and there’s a figure watching her