What Is The Scariest Movie Ever? Science Now Has An Answer To That Question
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Actress Maika Monroe from "It Follows" poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
For years and years—spanning Halloween season after Halloween season—the question has persisted: what is the scariest movie ever? There are movies that are tense, and there are movies that are suspenseful—and then there are movies that scare the ever-living daylights out of you. And only one of those movies can stand above the rest.
Obviously, this is a subjective argument. Different kinds of horror movies scare different kinds of people. But what if there truly was a horror movie that could be objectively dubbed the “scariest movie ever”? Well, broadbandchoices—a comparison tool for broadband deals—might just have an answer to that question. The platform performed what it’s calling the “Science of Scare Project,” during which they tracked the heart rates of 50 people of a variety of ages who watched over 100 hours of scary movies. After all of the tracking, broadbandchoices narrowed down a list of what it (scientifically) believes to be the scariest 35 movies ever made. Obviously, there are some limiting factors at play here. The sample size isn’t huge. Plus, the study was limited to the 50 highest-rated horror movies according to outlets like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Reddit. But still: this small sample size revealed some interesting results about what scares people and how much those horror movies actually scared them.
For the study, each member of the test audience was fitted with a heart rate monitor to see how much (on average) their heart rates rose above their resting heart rates during a film. All data was averaged for each film, and one film came out on top as the undeniably scariest movie of the bunch. Daniel Clifford, who created the study, said that "with more people than ever facing a Halloween at home, our Science of Scare study was designed to help people find the most scientifically scary films ever made, to save them the time of searching through thousands of titles across streaming services like Amazon, Netflix and Shudder.”
The results of the study? According to the heart rates of participants, no movie scared people more than Sinister, a 2012 horror/thriller that stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer who investigates a string of grisly family murders. The average resting heart rate of the participants was 65 BPM (beats per minute). But during Sinister, that average heart rate rose to 86 BPM—a 32% increase. That was the highest rise in BPM of any movie watched by the study participants.
The biggest jump scare, however, belonged to Insidious, which owned a moment that sent the participants’ heart rate up to 133 BPM. Overall, that movie came in second place to Sinister.
From there, the eight movies that followed Sinister and Insidious to round out the top ten were: The Conjuring, Hereditary, Paranormal Activity, It Follows, The Conjuring 2, The Babadook, The Descent and The Visit (for a full ranking of the top 35 movies, see the infographic below). Some more random findings from the study: * James Wan was dubbed the “king of horror” by broadbandchoices, as Wan was at the helm of three different scary movies that ranked in the top ten.
* Modern horror movies performed much better than the classics. While movies like The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre might be considered “better” horror movies, they didn’t scare study participants nearly as much as the modern flicks did.
* Audition was dubbed the scariest foreign horror film of the study.
Science of Scare Project BROADBANDCHOICES