Mike Flanagan recently made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most scares in a single television episode. He included 21 jump scares 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 intelligent characters and dialogue present in other Flanagan projects, the way it the midnight club uses jump scares makes horror fans think about the place this trope has in the genre.
While episode one has several jump scares in a row, there are a few located throughout season 1 and they are always put to good use. There are some reasons why the midnight club has nailed down the reason for using jump scares in a scary story.
A good jump scare is an art and horror fans love to discuss this topic. Speaking of his inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, Flanagan said NPR who thinks that too many movies employ this element. Said Flanagan, “I think they’re overused, that’s really my point. It’s not that I don’t like them. to have a prescribed number of [jump scares] on the show, and you need to have five jump scares in the first 15 minutes or else it’s not scary.
Flanagan wanted to put a bunch of scares in one episode, and it’s definitely a fun, wild, fun ride. Natsuki (Aya Furukawa) tells the show’s first scary story about a boy who walks home alone one night and is continually followed by a mysterious and terrifying figure. The figure keeps appearing and is always behind him or over a shoulder. While the character in the story is definitely scared, the other characters are not so happy about this story.
This scene is effective and hilarious. Some scary movie jump scares are good and they work in this episode because Flanagan pokes fun at how many can fit into a single horror movie. Fans are used to certain tropes in this genre and while some slasher tropes are necessary, not everyone thinks having a person come out of the dark is a good idea.
The characters who are part of the Midnight Club and who live at Brightcliffe Hospice have a funny and intelligent conversation about how shocks are a problem. Spence (William Chris Sumpter) says that being “startled” 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 long time as its great to hear the characters talk about horror in such a wise way.
Flanagan gets two things right about jump scares: keeping the humor about them but also making them really scary at times. There are so many movies where jump scares are used so poorly that it’s hard not to get frustrated. Often a character will open a cabinet or door and there will be nothing there. This rarely works as well as it is supposed to, as it has become a cliché and he gets tired of seeing the character sigh and go on with his evening, thinking there is no threat at all. Flanagan knows that a horror movie full of jump scares can be jarring for audiences looking for something different.
There are plenty of good straight-up horror movies, but sometimes a well-placed one just does the trick. Illonka (Iman Benson) often sees an eyeless older woman standing behind her when she walks through the hospice in the middle of the night and these are truly terrifying scares. Every time this happens, it’s hard not to wince and shiver, as it’s clear something sinister is at Brightcliffe. These jump scares serve as a major plot point. They show that not only are there dark secrets hidden within the walls of this beautiful 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 she can’t help but flinch when she sees this woman.
Flanagan does such an impressive job because he knows that horror fans are looking for a more exciting, clever and sophisticated scare story, as too many tropes have been used. It will be great 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 the House of Usherwhich recently finished production.
NEXT: Mike Flanagan Originally Tried To Adapt The Midnight Club Back In The ’90s