Take two things I love, Horror and Magic and put them together, and you got my complete attention. Jack Nugent of Now You See It, as used the analogy of a magic trick to explain something that most horror fans seem to find as a cheap, uninspired thrill: the
jump scare. Lazy jump scares seem to always jump out at us (oh yes and puns are always intended) as boring and poorly conceived, like the bad guy in the mirror cliché; however, Now You See It’s video essay shows us the recipe for how to do the scare right, using a scene from The Prestige, that describes a magic trick.
The Pledge: show something ordinary.
The Turn: make the ordinary do something extraordinary
The Prestige: bring it back or return it to normal.
I want to add something here, that most laymen of magic won’t get and that the video hints on. As an amateur magician, I know that the trick starts well in advance. In the video, Jack Nugent mentions how a successful jump scare is slowly built up to, and it’s like that in magic. The trick doesn’t begin when a magician takes out the cards and has someone shuffle, to show the ordinary thing. No, the trick begins ahead of that. Without spoiling these tricks, sometimes there is a complete switch, of the deck, sometimes cards are stacked, there are various methods, but the job of the magician and also, in this case, the filmmaker is to be one step ahead of the audience so that they can be guided down the path that leads to something magical, or in the case of a jump scare, scary.
I think that the topic of Jump scares is a fascinating one and I have a feeling I will be talking more about this as time goes on. Until then, keep making that scary.