Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 by Meagan Navarro
(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror. In this edition: An iconic scene from The Exorcist III single handily proves the merit of the jump scare.)
The jump scare gets a bad rap. One of horror’s most oft-used tools is the equivalent of a cinematic magic trick, an artform of misdirection to create an abrupt fear response. There’s nothing like a perfectly executed jump scare to make your heart skip a beat. Yet, like most tools, relying on the jump scare solely to create frights versus atmosphere often relegates the technique to cliché.
All of which to preface this – after the abysmal and chilly reception of Exorcist II: The Heretic, an anticipated follow-up to an all-time horror classic, no one expected the franchise’s third outing to deliver one of cinema’s most significant jump scares. The Exorcist III proved to be a pleasant surprise in more ways than one, including its perfection of a genre artform. Nestled deep within a sequel that relied heavily on atmosphere and psychological chills, writer/director William Peter Blatty mastered misdirection and delivered an iconic scene that would be emulated in pop culture still to this day.