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Quotes / Jump Scare

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So you leap out of your seat and go "Oh, that was so scary!" Here's the thing, though: it's not scary. It's startling. It's like- (sudden scream, complete with flashing Nightmare Faces) See? That wasn't scary. That was startling. That was the equivalent of me grabbing your ear and yelling into it.

Jump scares arenít the kind of fear I enjoy. Amnesia, which I love, does things with a lot more subtlety, giving the player an atmospheric playground puzzler where psychological fears: of the big unknown, of a machine that is bigger than us and that we donít understand, of being chased by something terrible, of being hurt by something we donít see, get the time to settle in and diffuse through our spongy brains.

Jump scares, on the other hand, play on pure biological base reflexes triggered by loud noises and unsettling imagery flashing for just a moment: a lightning bolt of pure contrast sending waves of frenetic firing through our synapses. They are efficient at generating fear, but are dangerous as game tools because once you use them once ó at least in my case ó the fourth wall is broken: from that point on Iím going to expect a new jump scare at every corner. Iím going to wonder, by the looks of the level design and the time that has elapsed since the last event, whether it is likely that the developer put another one at the end of this or that hall or after climbing this or that ladder.

Dear developer, of course Iím afraid while playing, but donít claim ďmission accomplishedĒ too soon, because what Iím afraid of is not your game, but a biological reaction I canít control, and which I donít want to happen again. Yet it will, at some point and I wonít be able to avoid it. It feels awful and cheap to be terrified, not by the game contents, but by the prospect of a new uncontrolled discharge at a random time.
Comment by faelnor on Rock, Paper, Shotgun

You see, there are three kinds of horror games. First, there's the kind where you're in a dark room and a guy in a spooky mask jumps out of a cupboard going "abloogy woogy woo!" - that would be your Doom≥. Then there's the kind where the guy in the spooky mask isn't in a cupboard but standing right behind you and you just know he's going to go "abloogy woogy woo" at some point but he doesn't and you're getting more and more tense but you don't want to turn around because he might stick his cock in your eye - that would be your Silent Hill 2. And then there are horror games where the guy in the spooky mask goes "abloogy woogy woo" while standing on the far side of a brightly lit room before walking slowly over to you plucking a violin and then slapping you in the face with a t-bone steak - that would be your Dead Space. See, the second one is best, because your imagination is doing all the work.
Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw on Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Zero Punctuation

This is a jumpscare. *cut to SCP-173 jumpscare* Surprising? Yeah. Unexpected? Probably. Loud? Most definitely. But is it scary? Let's take another look! *cut back to SCP-173 jumpscare* Hmmm, I'm still not so sure. How about another another look? ... Aah, see? If you're in the majority, you may just have braced yourself, or lowered the volume of your computer, so that you wouldn't be as jarred by the jumpscare. But in the end, is it just scary because it's surprising, or loud, or startling? That's what I'm trying to answer but *ambient sounds and music start playing* to be perfectly honest, I don't really care about that answer myself. And more to the point, I plan on speaking much softer so that some of you may have to turn up your volume in order to be able to hear me. And then in the darkness, you'll be able to hear something rattling in your house. Something standing behind you that you didn't notice before. And you're too afraid to turn around now because what if it actually is there? You see, the argument for what something is, and why something is or is not scary, is not important. Because, in the end, you'll find that there are much worse things waiting for you than a simple jumpscare. Happy Halloween.

"Everybody thinks that jumpscares are what horror is, which it's not. Jumpscares aren't horror. Jumpscares are surprising. You get the same reaction when you go into a pub and everybody shouts "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" when you don't know about it."

So are things gonna, like, jump out at us?
— Sheen exploring an ancient tomb, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

The animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's

The Fallen Child/Chara, if you refuse to erase the world after a Genocide run, Undertale

The Fallen Child/Chara, if you refuse to erase the world after a second Genocide run, Undertale

The Joker, Batman: Arkham Knight, note 

You scared the hiccups right out of me!
One of your Miis in Tomodachi Life, if you ring their doorbell while they have the hiccups

Damn me! It's the Black Samurai! Or is it?
Walter, Shin Megami Tensei IV, upon discovering an empty Black Demonica suit


Midnight Landing interrupting your otherwise-quiet landing attempt

Doctor Hannibal Lecter: (walking around at the end of a tether) I'm allowed 30 minutes in here, once a week. Get to the point.
Will Graham: I think he [the "Tooth Fairy" killer] meant to use the bolt cutter to enter the house, but he didn't. Instead, he broke in through the patio doors. The noise woke Jacobi, and he had to shoot him on the stairs. That wasn't planned. It was sloppy. That's not like him.
Doctor Hannibal Lecter: Hmm. We mustn't judge too harshly, Will. It was his first time. Have you never felt a sudden rush of panic?
[Will Graham flinches backwards, then rolls his eyes towards a guard, annoyed]

— Colin Souter's review of Darkness Falls

Bruce: (in low deadpan tone) [Fury] needs me in a cage?
Natasha: No-one's gonna put you in...
Bruce: (slams his hands on the table) STOP LYING TO ME!
Natasha: (draws her gun)
Bruce: (chuckles) I'm sorry, that was mean. I just wanted to see what you'd do.

Can we just stop with that? It's like if comedies tickled you to get a laugh. It's cheating!

John: My Life Flashed Before My Eyes and it was so... So...
Ocaso: LAME!?!? Did I scare you? Sorry, it wasn't my intention.
Demons Never Lie

Chemical reflex. Often happens.
— First line of Rest In Pieces, spoken by the mortician after Catherine Boyle's dead body springs sitting up, eyes open, as her niece, Helen Hewitt, approaches.

"Suddenly Zoidberg!" bellows Dr. Zoidberg, bursting out from behind your screen.
Look, jumpscares are hard to do in text format, alright?
Halloween Unspectacular: Lair of the Hack Writer, "The Interview"

Kind of jumpy, aren't you, Valiant?
R.K. Maroon to Eddie Valiant, hiding beneath a shelf after getting startled by Dumbo, Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Private: (nervously) Is he gone?
Kowalski: I don't see him any-AAH! (turns around pointing his left wing behind him only to find there's nobody there)
Private: What was that for?
Kowalski: Well, I just assumed he was going to pop up from out of no-LOOK BEHIND YOU!
Rico and Private: AAAAHH! (both turn around, nobody there)
Kowalski: And once again I appear to be mistaken. Well, I guess you can never tell- (Skipper appears, all scream)