Hiya. Glad you dig the blog.
I don’t understand the hate people throw at jump scares. Jump scares have their place. Jump scares are necessary. You can’t do the “slow build” without throwing in a jump scare here or there. Even the best horror movies hit you with them — they just choose their spots effectively. The spider walk in The Exorcist is a jump scare. The hallway scene in The Shining? Jump scare. They’re effective, but over-reliance on them does get tacky. Eliminate them completely, however, and you’re left with a boring, plodding, predictable film. And that’s not what anyone wants. The key is balance.
If you’re going for horror — not a gore-fest, not a cult flick, not a revenge film, not something campy; if your aim is to frighten people — then you need the unpredictability that things like jump scares and audio cues can create. You need to create a tense, roller-coaster ride environment that ebbs and flows but never truly feel safe. The tension can build slowly… in many of the best horror films it does… but you need those jump scares, and those audio cues, and those little hints that nothing here is safe sprinkled throughout or it’s just not gonna work. These things are imperative. Especially these days. We live in an era in which attention spans are at an all time low and entertainment options are at an all time high. It’s also an era when everybody’s seen everything. Your audience needs to be engaged or you’re dead in the water. Your script needs to consider the short term, immediate scares to be just as important as the long term, slow-cooking ones to create that engagement.
That said, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. I’m approaching it from a specific angle since you stated your goal was to be scary. Not all horror films have to be scary. That’s what I love about this genre; The Exorcist, my personal favorite, is no more valid a “horror” film than, say, Creepshow. Horror has many subdivisions. The only strict, one-size-fits-all rule for what makes a good horror film is simple: it should never be boring. Accomplish that and you’re golden.