Obligatory warning message: there will be a video clip that features jump scares. If anyone tries saying they were shocked, surprised, or not expecting such things from this point forward, I reserve every right to call bullshit on such claims.
It’s a month of celebrating all things that would, under most normal circumstances, leave people safely tucked away in an impenetrable, supernaturally-warded bunker until the screaming of less fortunate people stops. I enjoy horror slightly less than the next guy, unless the next guy happens to be someone who openly weeps at the slightest indication things are about to get scary; that guy and I are close to on the same level. I attempt to endure scary movies and video games, and the results don’t typically involve me retaining a whole lot of my dignity.
Insidious, slow-moving horror–the kind that produces a creeping dread that stays well after a movie’s ending (or a game being shut off)–isn’t so bad. I mean, sure, it is pretty potent nightmare fuel, and it stays in the back of your mind, and maybe that creaking sound from another room in the house was actually something sneaking up on you. Oh god why. Okay. Deep breaths, and moving on. I appreciate when something meant to be scary incorporates elements from the setting, making use of every little detail. Games like Silent Hill are great for creepy shit coming out of the fog and ruining the player’s day, for instance. Or the iconic sound of Pyramid Head dragging that gigantic sword-knife-thing along the ground. Every scary movie ever that featured string music, really.
This isn’t a post to celebrate involved, formulaic, and thought-out horror, though. It’s about how much I hate jump scares, even if I kind of love them for being 100% effective against me (Damn it). Forever ago, back when I’m fairly certain dial-up internet was still the norm, a station on the radio played something about a picture that was haunted. It was the standard business of how it was a picture of a room where someone died and if looked upon for too long the spirit of the deceased would appear. It sure did appear, in all of its sudden, screaming, flash-based glory. I was younger, and probably at least a little more naive than I am now, and so I checked this picture out. It scared the Hell out of me.
Since that day I’ve seen my fair share of jump scares. I’ve lead the mouse cursor through a maze only to throw said mouse at the screen when something awful popped up and screamed (Seriously, who thought screamers were a good idea? What an asshole.) at me. I’ve played my way through plenty of Resident Evil‘s beginning at night before deciding that shit was for people who actually possess courage. The number of movies I’ve watched that rely on the sudden oh-shit-what-was-that-oh-god-something-spooky (I’m looking at you, Insidious, you horrible piece of crap) is probably not as impressive as that of someone who actually enjoys horror movies instead of someone who just watches them occasionally for god-knows-what-reason.
Jump scares are lazy, easy ways to get the desired “oh shit” reaction from an audience, and they’re damn effective at it. Having something shocking, possibly gruesome, suddenly materialize does all sorts of crazy things to the fight-or-flight response and it’s only made worse if it’s accompanied by a scream or other loud noise. They’re the instant gratification of the horror world, except instead of instantly getting something you want right away the creator of that movie/video game/whatever is enjoying little victories all the time while people LOSE THEIR MINDS OVER A SUDDEN, UNEXPECTED AWFUL THING.
This post, by the way, was inspired by the discovery of Five Nights at Freddy’s thanks to VGCats. It accurately sums up what I assume is the bulk of how this game will make players of my fear tolerance level void their bowels in an instinctive and reflexive effort to facilitate easy fleeing (Sigh. A poop joke? Really?) from the monsters.
I’ll wrap this up with the Honest Game Trailer for Five Nights at Freddy’s so I have more time to focus on building my monster-proof fortress.