You might love them or you might loathe them, but you cannot deny that the jump scare has flourished, developing into a cornerstone of modern horror moviemaking. Their presence (or lack thereof) has the power to dictate a film’s entire pace, and can ramp it up from a slow burn to a tense, thrill-a-minute rollercoaster.
Like all movie conventions, the jump scare has evolved over the decades—and it has only grown more commonplace as audiences demand more terror for their ticket fees. So as the world enters a new year of horror films, from M3GAN to Scream 6—all of which will likely make crowds leap out of their shoes—we’ve charted the history of the jump scare. This way, you’ll know the full backstory of what’s making you soil yourself.