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My Top 5 - Tense Movie Moments

I don't know if you've noticed, but at Screaming Unicorn we love all things Horror! So I thought it would be fitting that our first blog post be about my top 5 tense movie moments. You might be surprised by some of my choices, but that's why the comment section exists.

Tension in a scene is much more than just high stakes and the possibility of your favourite character kicking the proverbial bucket. Tension is created through great performances, superb writing and an eerie atmosphere. As stand-alone moments these scenes are still fantastic, but you truly must see them in the context of their film. The build-up to these moments is what makes them particularly remarkable.

Now, in no particular order, my top tense moments:

(SPOILERS AHEAD) You've been warned!

Summer of '84 (2018)

Honestly, no matter which way they spin it; the concept of a group of kids seeing something they shouldn't have and their parents not believing them, is my biggest green flag for a movie. Summer of '84 does a fantastic job of 80's nostalgia while drip-feeding us some truly terrifying scenes. My favourite moment is at 1hr06m30s, it is so simple and yet so effective. This films brings the creepy neighbour trope up to a whole new level! I'm a very vocal film watcher so I wasn't surprised that this scene had me screaming at the screen.

Inglorious Bastards (2009)

Okay, so this scene has to be on most people's lists, and there's no way I couldn't choose it. It's spectacularly tense, and what makes it even more impressive is that it's the opening scene; it doesn't rely on what has came before it. The acting and dialogue are incredible, and its Hitchcockian nature makes it one of the greatest cinematic scenes in movie history, in my opinion. Some might argue that the bar scene is even more tense, but for me, I had to pick this one

The Lovely Bones (2009)

It doesn't get much better than this. If you want a scene that makes you hold your breath; this is it! I still haven't emotionally or physically recovered from watching this scene. It is shot and edited to perfection, and its almost complete silence achieves an unparalleled level of immersion. You won't want to make a sound while watching it.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

I adore this film! No doubt I'll have an entire blog post dedicated to it soon. But the final scene, which I call the "Stand Up For Me Scene" at 1hr10m00s, beautifully rounds off an overall great independant film. It creates a hugely uncomfortable moment right at the film's climax. I always get goosebumps when he has his Columbo moment just before the scene is about to end.

Get out (2017)

When I first watched the "Keys" scene in the cinema, it felt like my heart had stopped. It's a twist that seems so inevitable and obvious when watching it back, but that's how all the best twists and jaw-dropping moments should feel. If it's something out of the blue you can maybe lose connection with the film and think "Wait what? That's a bit of a stretch". But when a film like Get Out makes you feel as naive as the protagonist in the moment of the reveal, there's no better feeling or shock factor. This is only one of the tense moments that Jordan Peele has given us, there are so many more I could've chosen, but this being the climax of his first film, I felt I had to include it.

Thanks for Reading

Well there you have it; my top 5 tense movie moments. Special mentions go to the whole of Uncut Gems (2019), It Follows (2014), Prisoners (2013) and Oppenheimer (2023). If you haven't already please give our short films a watch on YouTube, and come back next week to read our next blog post.

Also, we are always looking to expand our film knowledge, so if you have any tense movie moments that would make your list, please write in the comments below.


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