That thread title’s a bit wonky, so lemme 'splain.
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book where you knew what was going to happen next in a particular scene…but when that thing actually happened, you reacted to it anyway?
For instance: I just finished watching Das Boot. There’s a scene where the captain of the titular U-boat spots an allied destroyer in the periscope, and everyone’s racing around getting into battle positions. When we next look through the periscope, the destroyer’s gone. When that happened, I thought “the periscope’s going to pan over a bit, and then we’re going to see the destroyer and it’s going to be right on top of them. Cue pants-shitting.”
Sure enough, the periscope pans right, and the destroyer is, in fact, right on top of the U-boat. I still yelped. And while I did not, in fact, shit my pants, it was a very close thing.
First Resident Evil movie: as the team is exploring the underground complex, they pass a glassed-in lab with a bunch of corpses floating in water. Of course, as they move on, the camera zooms in on the face of a corpse, whose eyes then snap open, with the appropriate musical sting.
I predicted it as soon as the scene started, and it still scared the crap outta me.
When Giles’ girlfriend looks out of that window in Hush, I know what she is going to see float by. Hey, I’ve watched that episode many times.
Still gives me a start…
I’ve seen Carrie three times, and I still get a shock every time her hand pops out of the grave at the end.
When the facehugger jumps out of the egg/pod in Alien.
I don’t watch many horror movies 'cause I scare easy, but once I YouTubed that clip from, what, Exorcist 2? Where the nurse gets her head cut off? Anyway, I had read a detailed summary of the scene and wanted to see what made it so scary, so I turn on this video with NO context (which usually completely defangs things) and knowing exactly what to expect and I still jumped!
Never open the medicine chest door while all alone in the house. You know the mirror will reflect the crazed killer when you close it.
That scene is in 87.3% of horror movies and it gets me every time.
When I was about 10ish, I read the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back before I saw the movie. There’s a scene, when the Falcon is in the cave in the asteroid, where a “space bat” type thing suddenly THWOCK! attaches itself to the viewport glass.
My aunt took me to see the movie soon after that, so I was completely prepared for the mynock going THWOCK into the viewport. What I wasn’t prepared for was my AUNT screaming to high heaven when it happened. Damn near peed myself…
The movie Quarantine, which was an American remake of a Spanish movie called [REC]. It’s not very old, so I’ll spoilerbox:
Toward the end, the cameraman says he’s going to put his camera into the attic space through a trap door and look around. Seriously, that’s just telegraphing that there’s gonna be a “stinger” up there, obviously something is going to suddenly leap into view and WHAM! But it still got me.
I actually have another example, a literary one this time: when I read H.P. Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, I actually saw the twist that Curwen had come back to life and killed Ward to assume his identity coming from a mile away, but the reveal was still terrifying.
When Alan Arkin jumps out from behind the refrigerator door at the blind Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark- yikes!
The first thing I thought of is the already mentioned end of “Carrie”. I couldn’t say how many dozens of times I’ve watched it and I still watch that part through my fingers.
The scene at “Winky’s Diner” in " “Mulholland Drive” never ceases to be totally nerveracking.
Another one from David Lynch - in “Inland Empire” there’s a scene where Laura Dern is walking down a path and you see her from several feet away and then all of a sudden the camera is right up in her maniacally grinning (gramacing?) face. Still haven’t been able to watch that a second time.
Though I’m over it now, it took me about twenty viewings to get over the scene in “The Ring” where they do the quick flash to the girl in the closet.
The end of Paranormal Activity! I’ve seen it twice and rewatched the ending numerous times. Makes me scream every time.
I can’t name a movie, but my dad is an expert at this. I’ll see him sneak up behind me. I’ll know he’s there. But he’ll hold just long enough for me to relax slightly and strike with a goosing or even just say something abrupt in my ear. And I will always jump.
I see it as similar to the people who can tell an unfunny, unoriginal joke and still make me laugh.
One night I was watching Kubrick’s version of The Shining and got to the scene where Scatman is slowly walking towards the cooler, about to get nailed with a fire ax. I’ve seen the movie multiple times, I know it’s coming…right…now…oh wait, after the next column…here it comes…get ready…oh wait, it’s the next column…closer…closer…closer… PHONE CALL!!! Loud girly scream (luckily I was alone at the time). I was hyperventilating so much I couldn’t answer the phone and had to wait 5 minutes before I could call back.
The standard cat-jumping-through-the-open-window-covered-with-billowing-curtains gets me every time, even though I know it’s going to be the cat.
American Werewolf In London. Two guys were attacked by a werewolf; one died, one survived and is in a hospital. The dead guy keeps appearing to the “survivor”, looking rattier with each appearance.
In one scene, the survivor is looking in a mirror.
You know his dead, chewed-up buddy is going to pop up behind him - it’s such a common trope.
Yet when it did, I still jumped and shrieked. I don’t recall if that was when I walked out, or shortly afterward, but it’s one of the few movies I’ve ever done that for.
In Independence Day, when the scientist slams up against the glass.
My brother and I once spent a good half hour rewinding our copy of the movie to just before that moment, and playing it again, over and over. We jumped every time - or at least, I did and he pretended to be unfazed.
In the Australian soap opera, Prisoner (Prisoner: Cell Block H) the main character Myra is shot to death. Every time I see it, it’s hard to believe they’d kill such a major character off, especially since the rest of the cast was so new.
It still makes me jump at the drama and you hope, “Will someone PLEASE save Myra”