Is Mulholland Drive’s diner scene the best jump scare in cinema history?

A peculiar, standalone scene that is difficult to shake.

Christopher Hooton
Monday 11 April 2016 10:22
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The Winkie’s diner scene in David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive has been slowly racking up thousands of views on YouTube and gaining a reputation as one of the scariest film moments ever created.

Watching it for the first time in years just now it still makes my soul feel like it’s imploding.

Here it is (watch the full thing if you can, it needs the build-up):

What makes the scene so unsettling is how unique it is.

Firstly, ‘jump scare’ is a misnomer, we’re actually told to expect the monster (as the man predicted it in a dream), a ‘jump’ being replaced by something much worse: dread.

Then there’s the deranged score, lingering shots and brilliant acting from a sweaty, twitching Patrick Fischer.

What really makes it so terrifying though is the context. For starters we’re in a Lynchian environment - which is nearly always creepy - and not a dark forest. The scare takes place in an urban environment in broad daylight at a seemingly benign diner.

Throw in the fact that the scene occurs 15 minutes into a film which otherwise has a drastically different tone, and you have a scare for the ages.

Take note, horror directors still relying on little girls popping up in found footage.

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