It has been 19 years since the unforgettable airing of one of the most terrifying jump scares ever captured on film.
We’ve all experienced it.
Sitting comfortably on the couch, engrossed in a movie, everything seems calm. The volume might be a bit low, so you reach for the remote to turn it up. Little did you know that this innocent action would lead to a catastrophic mistake. Suddenly, the screen explodes with a horrifying image, causing you to spew coke and popcorn everywhere as you jolt off the sofa in sheer terror.
A recent discussion on Reddit asked users to share their picks for the best jump scares in cinema, or perhaps the worst, depending on your perspective.
Numerous suggestions flooded in, including the aliens appearing in Signs, the tall man at the door in It Follows, the mysterious figure behind the restaurant in Mulholland Drive, and the decapitated head emerging from the boat in Jaws.
However, one video surpassed them all, and surprisingly, it wasn’t even from a horror movie—it was an advertisement for an energy drink.
A Reddit user commented, “That one video of a car driving through the countryside,” referring to the infamous ‘Ghost Car’ commercial.
The ad features a car peacefully driving through a serene countryside. The picturesque scene lulls viewers into a sense of tranquility, until the car disappears beneath a cluster of trees. Suddenly, a screeching zombie-like figure lunges into the frame, startling unsuspecting viewers. The ad then cuts to the slogan: “You’ve never been so wide awake,” accompanied by the pumping image of a heart-shaped can.
This campaign marked one of the earliest instances of “screechers,” a less-than-subtle form of jump scare where an object or figure rapidly enters the frame, accompanied by a scream. Screechers were commonly used in prank videos or, in this case, as an advertisement. The ‘Ghost Car’ commercial received the highest number of upvotes on the Reddit thread, surpassing all other suggestions.
Commenters wasted no time sharing their experiences and why they found it so terrifying.
One person shared, “This traumatized me when I was in middle school!” Another replied, “My mother showed this to me when I was in 6th grade, and I screamed for so long that she slapped me in the face, haha.”
A third individual recounted, “My teacher pulled this on us. A classroom full of 6th graders, first class in the morning, lights off, and this appeared on the projector. We all settled in, thinking it was going to be a movie day.”
Jump scares have long been a staple of horror cinema. Many consider a scene in the 1942 film Cat People to be the earliest use of this technique. The scene features a young woman walking home alone at night, building tension until a screech interrupts, only to reveal a bus arriving. Since this pioneering use, jump scares have become a common trope in horror movies.
Some argue that jump scares have become overused and have shifted the focus away from slower, more suspenseful styles of horror.
Regardless of opinions on the matter, nothing quite gets the heart racing like the ‘Ghost Car’ commercial.