Jump scares are one of the oldest tricks in horror films. They’re those moments when everything goes quiet and dark, and you’re suddenly jolted out of your seat. Jump scares can be cheap thrills or genuine frights, but no matter how they’re used, they’re definitely entertaining.
Some horror filmmakers abhor the tactic and instead focus on building atmospheric tension. But most are happy to embrace the technique, giving the audience the uncontrollable shriek they are waiting for.
Jump scare movies make for perfect group viewing as well as something to watch alone at night. So if you want to soil your pants this Halloween, check out this list of the best jump scare movies available to watch on Netflix. It should have you perched on the edge of your seat looking forward to a sleepless night…
1. Dead Silence
James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the duo who created the megahit psycho-thriller Saw series, helm the reins of this supernatural horror film. While Saw was about ambient horror, Dead Silence celebrates the jump scare.
The film revolves around Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who gets hunted and killed by the citizens of her small town who believe she tortured a young child. They also buried all of of Shw’s vaudevillian puppets alongside her. All of this happened in the 1940s, but the puppets have now mysteriously returned, and are causing havoc in the town. A newlywed couple moves to the town, and the wife gets killed. The husband is now obsessed with finding out what really happened.
2. Scream 2
Wes Craven is one of the most respected names in horror films. The original Scream kicked off a franchise that would spawn three sequels and a TV series. But the second movie is still the best, and packed full of jump scares.
Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette reprise their roles as characters who were tormented by “Ghostface” in the original film. Ghostface is back, but it’s someone new under the mask this time, and they’re even thirstier for blood. As the body count keeps growing, the lives of our beloved protagonists are in mortal danger. Can they figure out who’s behind the mask and stop them before it’s too late?
Several years ago, Ronald DeFeo murdered his wife and children at their home in Amityville, New York. New occupants of the house since then have encountered strange happenings.
Based on the true story of the DeFeos and the family who came after them, George and Kathy Lutz, The Amityville Horror depicts one of the most infamous supernatural stories of modern times. Director Andrew Douglas does a top-notch job of recreating all the paranormal events that the Lutzes claim to have experienced in real life. Knowing that this might actually have happened isn’t the scariest part, though. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what is.
4. The Babadook
Children often ask their parents about the monster under the bed, or tell tales of the man in the cupboard. As adults, we do our best to convince them it’s just their imaginations running wild. But what if a child’s vivid dreams about a mysterious dark force are true? What would you do if the Babadook, a sinister shadow-like creature, was really coming after you? That’s the question single mom Amelia has to face. Should she believe her son Samuel and his violent dreams, or should she remain rational throughout it all?
Even horror films can become cult favorites on Netflix. The Babadook had a lukewarm reception when it first released in Australia, but it has since garnered critical acclaim and a strong following among horror buffs.
5. The Den
We know that the dark web plays host to shady illegal activities. But how bad can it really be? And have you ever wondered whether an elite hacker can really track you and hunt you down? The Den explores the answers to both of these questions.
A woman accidentally stumbles upon a website called The Den, where she sees a live video of a girl being tortured and murdered. The police think it’s fake, but she is convinced it’s real. As she tries to find out more about what happened, she realizes that she might have taken on the wrong people, as someone starts targeting her and her family for a similar live video chat.
6. The Ward
John Carpenter’s name is almost synonymous with horror films, as well as movies every geek should watch. There are plenty of John Carpenter classics to choose from, but The Ward stands out as one of his most jump-scare-filled movies.
Amber Heard plays the protagonist, who is remanded to a psychiatric facility where the doctors experiment with their patients. She starts seeing the ghost of a nurse who died there many years before. Soon, the ghost goes after all of Heard’s new friends in the facility, killing them one by one. Will she be able to figure out the ghost’s problem and nullify it before she’s also offed?
What’s better than a creepy movie about an old ghost? A creepy movie about an old ghost, set against the backdrop of World War II! The Woman in Black 2 is the continuation of the story of Jeannette Humfrye, as she carries on haunting all those who step into her house.
This time, unfortunately, it’s a group of children and their two caretakers, who are trying to escape from war-torn London during WW2. This is a definite case of out of the frying pan, and into the fire. The children and the caretakers soon find themselves in grave danger, and as it turns out, one of the people in their party might have some connection to old Jeannette.
The “found footage” genre is a favorite for horror movies, having been popularized by films such as The Blair Witch Project. If this is the sort of film you’re in the mood for, V/H/S/2 may be just for you.
V/H/S/2 attempts something unique. It has seven different directors shooting seven short segments, all of which tie together to make one overarching narrative. V/H/S/2 includes some big names, like the director of The Raid and the writer of Grindhouse. Unfortunately, V/H/S/2 struggles to build an atmosphere of terror. However, it does deliver jump scares in spades.
After making a documentary like Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you wouldn’t expect director David Gelb to dive into the horror genre. But Gelb is full of surprises, and The Lazarus Effect is as creepy as horror films come.
Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass star as medical researchers who have figured out how to resurrect dead animals. But a terrible accident claims Wilde’s life, and in his grief, Duplass decides to bring her back to life instead. His experiment is a success. However, the being that comes back to life seems to be shedding Wilde’s soul and being possessed by something much, much darker.
10. The Uninvited
Teenager Anna was caught in the same fire that destroyed her family’s houseboat and killed her mother. But she can’t remember the details of that fateful night. Suffering a breakdown as a result, she is admitted to a mental health facility, only to be discharged without treatment.
Once she returns, she finds that her mother’s nurse is now her new stepmother, and that her father didn’t deliver any of the letters she wrote to her sister. That’s when Anna starts seeing a ghost. Together, the two sisters decide to find out what really happened that night, all while a supernatural force seems to be haunting their quaint house.
There ain’t no end-of-world party like a Biblical end-of-world party ‘cuz a Biblical end-of-world party is full of demons. JeruZalem is silly, and could have been so much better, but the Paz brothers who directed this film sure know how to deliver jump scares aplenty.
A group of young adults find themselves trapped in Jerusalem because it’s the end of the world as we know it. The city is being run over by demons. We’re talking about a Biblical nightmare here, folks. Obviously, these four nobodies with zero background experience have to figure out how to beat the odds. But if you can ignore the silly plot, you’ll have a great time with the jump scares.
Sometimes the scariest thing in the world isn’t a demon or a monster or a ghost. It’s a human. A man who anyone would think is normal if they saw him walking down the street. Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice write and star in Creep, which lives up to its name.
Josef is dying of a terminal illness and wants to record messages for his soon-to-be-born son. He puts out an ad on Craigslist to find a videographer. A guy named Aaron shows up. What follows is a slow unraveling of Josef’s life, that gets creepier and creepier, while Aaron continues to shoot. The jump-scare dial is turned up to maximum in this one.
If you ever want to stay awake all night, watch Hush with the lights out and the curtains open. You’ll wait up all night with a baseball bat, lest a man wearing a freaky mask shows up at your window.
When deaf writer Maddie sees one such man, she needs to figure out how to survive. She’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods, and this psychopath serial killer has made his intentions quite clear. Hush is an incredible take on the hunter-prey game, where the prey is disadvantaged with a hearing disability. If you end up watching this film, count the number of times you’re jolted out of your seat. If it’s under 10, you’re a braver soul than I am.
What’s Your All-Time Favorite Jump Scare Movie?
Jump scare movies are surely made for Halloween. Watching a movie or two from this list on All Hallow’s Eve (maybe while dressed in a creepy costume) would be fun, but why restrict yourself to Netflix? From this list, Hush is my favorite, but there are plenty of other jump scare movies out there waiting to be discovered.
One that didn’t make the list is Alone, which is absolutely packed with jump scares. It may not be the best film in the world, but it will have you jumping out of your seat. That’s my favorite jump scare movie of all time, but what’s yours?
Please let us know in the comments below!
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