Insidious is the ultimate movie of two halves. The initial build-up is unerringly creepy, slow and shocking, while the latter half is total balls-to-the-wall craziness.
Unsurprisingly, the movie’s best scare comes from the opening section, as Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne’s paranormally terrorised couple Josh and Renai Lambert discuss the haunting with Josh’s mother Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), the camera steadily flicks between Josh and Lorraine, before the demon makes itself known and all hell breaks loose.
It’s an insta-iconic moment that nails the formula for amazing jump scares. Slow burn build-up + locked viewpoint x unexpected monster = ruined underwear.
Insidious is available now on Virgin Movies
Signs isn’t a horror in the true sense (hey, it’s a 12 for starters), but the way in which it introduces its extra-terrestrial nasties is a shining of example of how to build suspense. The newscaster’s forewarning, mixed with the childrens’ own terror ramps up your anticipation. And then, remarkably slowly, there it is.
Signs is available now on Virgin Movies
2007’s iconic Spanish thriller is a masterclass in how to turn a tired cinematic style into something truly electrifying. Sure, it’s first person horror, but by replacing ghosts and witches with crazy-ass, adrenaline-fuelled Snyder-zombies, and trapping its core characters in an old Spanish apartment building, you had an instant recipe for something as claustrophobic as it was nerve-shredding.
There are a few moments that stand out (one scene in which a body surprises the group by plummeting from stories above is particularly fun), but it’s the slow, 360°, first person pan around an attic space that makes you jump hardest.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
One of the more original scares here, if only because it doesn’t actually feature a visual, on-screen monster. Oren Peli’s low-budget classic succeeds so well because of what you DON’T see. But after a long, unnerving build full of small knocks and bangs, *hearing* the poltergeist make itself known with a roaring, purely evil scream sends the mind racing with images of just what the chuff could make that noise.
Paranormal Activity is available to watch on Netflix
The Descent (2005)
The introduction of night vision is never a good sign for your average horror movie protagonist. Not only are *they* blind, but the pale, green light highlighting whatever terror’s lurking in the background adds an unnatural sheen to the moment. After almost an hour of claustrophobic tunnel terror, The Descent’s monster makes itself known in fleeting, jolting moments that scare you every. Single. Time.
The Woman In Black (2012)
Anyone who’s seen the stage show would have known what to expect from this 2012 movie remake. Super-jumpy appearances from the titular pale-faced ghoul, and lots of them. While the ‘rocking chair’ scare is arguably more iconic, you can’t beat this ‘screaming face at the window’ for classic chills.
The Woman In Black is available to watch on Netflix
The Exorcist III (1990)
After almost a minute of static focus on a clinical hospital corridor, the on-shift nurse turns her back. Bad idea. Cue zoom-in, and the appearance of something both chillingly determined and confusingly unnerving. Was it us or did that thing NOT EVEN HAVE A HEAD?
Sinister may not be the greatest movie ever made (if a movie’s guilty of throwing 89 LOUD NOISE JUMPCUTS on the screen and calling it horror, it’s this one), but it has ample enough moments to drive you running screaming into the toilet.
Case in point, this PEEKABOO jump that you completely, definitely know is coming - but still manages to scare the bejesus out of you.
Sinister 2 is available now on Virgin Movies
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