Like with anything, jump scares can be used effectively. This practice tends to be seen as a shortcut utilized by films to pick up the slack when they cannot generate any significant tension through other means, however, the technique is not inherently bad. Some of the best horror movies of all timeA Quiet Place, Alien, Evil Dead 2, It, and The Conjuring 2 – contain plenty of jump scares that enhance the overall experience. In fact, these films might not be as highly regarded as they are today if they didn’t include these startling moments.


Jump scares have their place; conversely, they do not belong in every horror movie under the sun. Some films make do without them and still manage to be completely terrifying. These are those movies, and they are ripe pickings for a Halloween free of jump scares.

Where’s The Jump was used as a reference, and the site is a great resource for reviewing whether a film is packed with jump scares or not.

Updated October 7, 2022 by Mark Sammut: Halloween 2022 is right around the corner, which means the horror season is in full swing. Currently, Terrifier 2, Smile, Hellraiser, and Barbarian are making the rounds, so there are plenty of new scary flicks for people to seek out. However, when it comes to horror movies with no jump scares, the selection is quite limited. Now, there is nothing wrong with a good jump scare, but some films do overly on the technique. This article has been expanded to include a few more movies that do not use this filmmaking device.

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16/16 Wolf Creek (2005)

Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek has had surprisingly long legs, as it went on to produce a 2013 sequel and a 2016 TV series. The 2005 original chronicles the tragic events that befall three backpackers who wind up in the hands of a vile kidnaper.

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Wolf Creek is far from a comfortable watch, with the movie incorporating plenty of violent scenes that will unsettle everyone but the most seasoned horror fans. However, it doesn’t rely on jump scares to get the job done.

15/16 Ringu 0: Birthday (2000)

While the American adaptations and Sadako movies lean heavily into jump scare territory, that is not really the case for the Japanese originals. Ringu only has a handful of jump scares, while its direct sequel is even more restrained in this area. Ringu 0: Birthday eliminates this horror tool completely.

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Although Ringu 0: Birthday doesn’t come close to replicating the magic of 1998’s Ringuor even the 2002’s The Ring, it is one of the better entries in the franchise. It dives into Sadako’s backstory.

14/16 Chained (2012)

Director Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Rotten Tomatoes Score 68%
Where to Stream TubiTV

Featuring a towering performance by Vincent D’Onofrio as a serial killer, Chained is a brutal horror film that expertly utilizes the power of the imagination. Most of the movie’s darkest moments transpire off-screen, allowing both the young, trapped protagonist and audiences to fill in the blanks themselves. As is often the case, the unseen is far scarier than the visible.

Chained revolves around the relationship between Bob, a serial killer, and Rabbit, his young captive. Over the course of a decade, their dynamic twists into something complex and unpredictable.

13/16 Session 9 (2001)

Director Brad Anderson
Rotten Tomatoes Score 66%
Where to Stream N/A

A somewhat forgotten horror film, Session 9 follows a crew tasked with clearing up a deserted mental asylum of asbestos. Naturally, things get creepy quite quickly. Session 9 is predominantly concerned with establishing a tense atmosphere, something it achieves admirably.

The movie doesn’t explore much in the way of new ground, but it does the basics extremely well. With no jump scares and very little in the way of bloody sequences, Session 9 is an effective mood piece that can inspire a few nightmares through its imagery.

12/16 The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

House of 1000 Corpses‘ superior sequel follows three psychopaths on a road-trip style movie filled with gore. The Devil’s Rejects is obnoxious, unapologetically vile, and bizarrely funny. Rob Zombie’s filmography largely reads as a tribute to ’70s exploitation and slasher flicks, and while most of these projects struggle to carve out an identity beyond “throwbacks,” this 2005 release is an exception.

The Devil’s Rejects does right by its main characters, in the sense that they are treated as fully fleshed human monsters rather than vehicles for sadism. For all its grotesque imagery, the movie does rely on jump scares to frighten viewers. The Devil’s Rejects presents its horror proudly.

11/16 The Amusement Park (1975)

Long thought to have been lost to time, George A. Romero‘s The Amusement Park finally earned a full release in 2019 despite premiering in a festival all the way back in 1975. A vicious critic of ageism, The Amusement Park is a bizarre and uncomfortable sit, one that benefits from having a lack of polish in its presentation.

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Even though The Amusement Park might not rank among Romero’s absolute greatest films, it still demonstrates the director’s unbeatable talent for social commentary and inventive storytelling.

10/16 Creepshow (1982)

Director George A. Romero
Rotten Tomatoes Score 65%
Where to Stream N/A

From two masters of horror in George A. Romero and Stephen King comes Creepshow, an anthology movie that is often equally concerned with being funny as it is with being scary. As it so happens, the film succeeds at both, creating a wildly entertaining experience that seems tailor-made for a Halloween party.

None of the shorts are bad, but there is certainly a pecking order. “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and “Something to Tide You Over” are the standout pieces, with the latter containing a chilling turn by Leslie Nielsen, aka Naked Gun‘s Frank Drebin.

9/16 Brain Damage (1988)

There is no horror filmmaker quite like Frank Henelotter. The creator’s films are absurdist nightmares, typically involving a grotesque entity latching onto a far from innocent “normal” human. The Basket Case movies are worth marathoning, while Frankenhooker and Bad Biology are solid horror comedies in their own right.

As good as those films are, the director’s masterpiece is probably 1988’s Brain Damage, a movie about a parasitic entity and its confused host. Brain Damage plays out like one extended bad trip, and it is glorious.

8/16 Stoker (2013)

Director Park Chan-wook
Rotten Tomatoes Score 70%
Where to Stream N/A

Reminiscent of Hitchcock’s movies such as Shadow of a Doubt, Stoker comes from respected South Korean director Park Chan-wook, who is primarily known for The Vengeance Trilogy. Following the death of her father, India moves in with her mother, a situation that grows more peculiar once her uncle, Charlie, comes to stay with them. India instantly senses that there is something not quite right with this new resident.

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A psychological thriller, Stoker builds up anxiety through its slightly off performances and strong direction. Stoker is not especially scary, however, it is constantly captivating.

7/16 Frailty (2002)

A somewhat forgotten horror film, Frailty tells the gripping tale of a father who believes he has been chosen by God to eradicate demons posing as humans. He extends this mission to his two sons, although only one believes in the cause. Frailty expertly challenges audiences to ponder whether Dad Meiks’ visions are genuine or merely the delusions of a serial killer, and the movie keeps up this mystery until the very end.

Boasting great performances by the entire cast, particularly Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey, Frailty is a unique, clever, and unpredictable horror movie without jump scares.

6/16 The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Found footage movies seem designed for jump scares since they restrict the audience to the main character’s point of view, making it pretty easy to suddenly sling a cat across the screen. While 2016’s Blair Witch has more than a few jump scares, the same doesn’t extend to 1999’s original release and arguably the most famous found footage horror movie of all time.

The Blair Witch Project is all about its atmosphere and the Black Hills setting. The movie feeds just enough sounds and ideas to the student characters and viewers that they end up frightening themselves through the possibility of what might be out there.

5/16 A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a vampire movie that takes inspiration from Spaghetti Western classics. The title refers to a strange girl that roams the streets, crossing paths with some of this world’s seedier figures. Depending on a person’s disposition and personality, they might wish they never met this girl.

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A mood piece, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night‘s city is drenched in dread and misery, every building and street threatening to introduce someone to a life of torment or painful death.

4/16 Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Director S. Craig Zahler
Rotten Tomatoes Score 91%
Where to Stream Hoopla, TubiTV

Sticking with horror Westerns, Bone Tomahawk takes The Searchers and asks “what if cannibals were involved?” Also, it stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and a whole host of great performers. The threat of an outsider and a gore-filled climax are only a handful of the horror elements found in Bone Tomahawk, but the film is primarily shot and paced like a Western.

Consequently, everything is presented directly. Bone Tomahawk has plenty of scenes that are hard to stomach, they just have nothing to do with jump scares.

3/16 House (1977)

Don’t try to make sense of House. It is impossible and also not beneficial to the overall experience. Instead, simply sit back, relax, and prepare for a fever dream of a lifetime. At its core, 1977’s House is, well, a haunted house movie; however, it is quite unlike any other in the market.

Six teenagers decide to spend the summer at a country home belonging to one of the student’s aunts, and the house opts to give them a good scare.

2/16 Perfect Blue (1997)

Satoshi Kon’s anime masterpiece is an exercise in discomfort (for the audience). Perfect Blue follows Mima Krigoe, a celebrity from an idol group who opts for a change in career as she enters the TV business. What follows is a devastating character study as Mima loses her sense of self while being stalked by one of the creepiest antagonists in movie history.

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Perfect Blue tells a compelling story that garners a reaction through its visceral imagery and emotional beats. Kon’s classic doesn’t utilize jump scares, but some people might still feel a sudden urge to divert their gaze.

1/16 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is such an effective psychological horror film because it shies away from conventional scare tools. Rosemary’s paranoia over the belief that her neighbors are part of a Satanic Cult is juxtapositioned with the film’s realistic tone, acting, and framing. The situation might not be typical but Rosemary’s Baby makes it feel like something that could happen to anyone. It is chilling.

Rosemary’s Baby builds slowly towards a crescendo that is truly terrifying. And, there are no jump scares along the way.

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