Mike Flanagan recently broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the most jumps in a single television episode. He included 21 scary jumps in the first episode of his new Netflix horror series The Midnight Club called “The Final Chapter”. While the show would be impressive on its own, with the clever characters and dialogue present in Flanagan’s other projects, the way The Midnight Club uses creepy jumps makes horror fans think about the place this trope has in the genre.
Although Episode 1 has several jump scares in a row, there are a few placed throughout Season 1, and they are always put to good use. There are a few reasons why The Midnight Club found the reason to use jump scares in a scary story.
There’s an art to a good jump scare and horror fans love debating this topic. When discussing his inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, Flanagan said NPR that he thinks too many movies employ this element. Flanagan said, “I think they’re overused, that’s really my point. It’s not that I don’t like them. have a prescribed number of [jump scares] in the show, and you have to have five scary jumps in the first 15 minutes, otherwise it’s not scary. ‘”
Flanagan wanted to put a ton of scary jumps into one episode, and this is definitely a fun, wild, fun ride. Natsuki (Aya Furukawa) tells the series’ first chilling story about a boy who walks home alone one night and is continually followed by a mysterious and terrifying figure. The character continues to appear and is always behind him or over one shoulder. While the character in the tale is definitely freaked out, the other characters aren’t so happy with this story.
This scene is effective and hilarious. Some horror movie jump scares are good and it works in this episode because Flanagan doesn’t care how many horror movies can fit into one horror movie. Fans are used to certain tropes like this and while some slasher tropes are necessary, not everyone believes that bringing someone out of obscurity is a good idea.
The characters who are part of the Midnight Club and live in Brightcliffe Hospice have a fun and clever conversation about how jumping is a problem. Spence (William Chris Sumpter) says being “frightened” is different from being scared. The fact that Flanagan makes this distinction makes The Midnight Club one of the most exciting and entertaining horror TV shows to come out in a while, because it’s great to hear characters talk about horror in such a wise way.
Flanagan is right about two things about scary jumps: keeping a sense of humor about them, but also making them really scary at times. There are so many movies where jump scares are so misused that it’s hard not to feel frustrated. Often a character will open a closet or a door and there will be nothing. It rarely works as well as expected, as it’s become cliched and tired of seeing the character sigh and go on with their evening, thinking there’s no threat. Flanagan knows that a horror movie packed with creepy jumps can be irritating to audiences looking for something different.
There are plenty of good horror movies with no jump scares out there, but sometimes a well-placed movie does the trick. Illonka (Iman Benson) often sees an older woman with no eyes standing behind her when she walks around the hospice in the middle of the night and those are some truly terrifying jump scares. Every time this happens, it’s hard not to wince and feel chilled, because it’s clear there’s something sinister about Brightcliffe. These jump alerts serve as an important plot point. They prove that not only are dark secrets lurking within the walls of this magnificent mansion, but that Illonka has a special connection to the past as she is the character who can summon the magic of the five sisters. Illonka is fearless and tough in many ways, but can’t help but shiver when she sees this woman.
Flanagan does such impressive work because he knows horror fans crave a more exciting, clever, and sophisticated scary story because so many tropes have been overused. It will be cool to see how Flanagan uses jump scares (or not, as the case may be) in his next show based on an Edgar Allen Poe story, The Fall of House Usherwhich recently completed production.
NEXT: Mike Flanagan Originally Tried To Adapt The Midnight Club In The 90s