I’m not a fan of jump scares. In part, and I’m admitting this upfront, it’s that they get me every time, even when I’m otherwise not scared by the movie I’m watching. Honestly, I suspect this is the case for most: You’re watching a horror movie, it’s kinda dull, you’re not vibing with it, but then a cat jumps out of a cupboard and a crashing orchestral cue blares through the speakers, and you jolt in your seat. That’s not really the same thing as being scared, is it? Anyone can do that. A monkey with a camera and a piano (and a cupboard with a cat in it) can do that.
Then there are movies like Elle Callahan’s Head Count, which do what jump scares are supposed to do—take viewers off guard—but in the right way, meaning through application of actual craft. This is a solid movie all around (any critiques I have, you’ll find in an upcoming piece), but I choose to celebrate it for one specific scare sequence, which I liked so much that I tracked down Callahan to chat about how she filmed it.
You can read the full piece over at The A.V. Club, and I don’t mind saying it’s a delight to have published work on the site for the first time.