A scientific study, done by a broadband comparison website in the UK, has set out to determine the scariest movies of all time.
The science of scare
The study tracked the heart rates of participants as they watched a curated list of 50 of the best horror films ever made. The results show which movies elevated the average heart rates of participants and even tracked the highest spikes of each movie to determine which films had the biggest jump scares.
The description on broadbandchoices website reads:
Is there anything better than a night in with the lights off and a truly terrifying movie that gets your heart pounding?
We don’t think so. That’s why we’ve explored the science of scare, with our experiment to categorically find the scariest films for your scary movie night.
Our team studied critic’s lists and Reddit recommendations to curate 50 of the best horror filmsever made, before subjecting them to our test subjects.
Watching each movie in 5.1 surround sound, our panel of 50 people consumed over 120 hours of the best horror movies, each fitted with a heart rate monitor to measure which movies got their blood pumping the most to find the ultimate horror movie and crown the king of fright night.
The top 10 scariest movies of all time
True crime novelist Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) is so desperate to repeat the success of his first book that he moves his family into a home that served as the setting of a brutal murder. But instead of inspiration, Ellison finds a box of mysterious home movies in the attic that seem to point to unspeakable terrors — ones that could threaten his entire family.
Streaming on Peacock
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further. (Original Title – Insidious) © 2010 Alliance Films (UK) Limited. All Rights Reserved.
3. The Conjuring
Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. The Conjuring tells the horrifying true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world renowned paranormal investigators, who were called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives. Oscar® nominee Vera Farmiga (The Departed) and Golden Globe nominee Patrick Wilson (Insidious) play the investigators while Golden Globe nominee Ron Livingston (Band of Brothers) and Emmy® nominee Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under) play the Perron family plagued by sinister spirits in this dark chiller from the writers of The Reaping and the creator of the Saw films.
When Ellen, the matriarch of the Graham family, passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry. The more they discover, the more they find themselves trying to outrun the sinister fate they seem to have inherited. Making his feature debut, writer-director Ari Aster unleashes a nightmare vision of a domestic breakdown that exhibits the craft and precision of a nascent auteur, transforming a familial tragedy into something ominous and deeply disquieting, and pushing the horror movie into chilling new terrain with its shattering portrait of heritage gone to hell.
Streaming on Prime Video
5. Paranormal Activity
You demanded it and now the surprise hit critics call “one of the scariest movies of all time”* can be experienced in the most terrifying place of all…your home. After a young, middle-class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially while they sleep. Paranormal Activity builds suspense all the way to the shocking ending.
6. It Follows
After a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe of THE GUEST) suddenly finds herself trapped by a vicious curse – someone or something is following her, and the only way to save herself is to put others in harm’s way. Stylish and terrifying, IT FOLLOWS is the critically acclaimed horror of the year!
Streaming on Peacock
7. The Conjuring 2
Streaming on HBO Max
8. The Babadook
9. The Descent
One year after a tragic accident, six girlfriends meet in a remote part of the Appalachians for their annual caving trip. Deep below the surface of the earth, disaster strikes when a rock falls and blocks their route back to the surface. The group splinters and each one pushes on, praying for another exit. But there is something else lurking under the earth — a race of monstrous humanoid creatures that have adapted perfectly to life in the dark. As the friends realize they are now prey, they are forced to unleash their most primal instincts in an all-out war against an unspeakable horror — one that attacks without warning, again and again and again.
10. The Visit
When Becca and Tyler are sent to their grandparents’ secluded Pennsylvania farm for a weeklong stay, they quickly discover something is not right with the elderly couple. Faced with strange rules and increasingly frightening behavior, the children soon realize it will take all their wits to make it home alive.
Sinister is scientifically the scariest movie ever!
So according to the study, the scariest movie of all time is Scott Derrickson’s Sinister. Looking at the info-graphic also shows that heart rates were also elevated and spiking during the rest of the top 10 so any of the movies on this list should get you sufficiently spooked.
Other honorable mentions
Some of the biggest spikes in heart rate can be attributed to movies that had the biggest jump scares. Insidious, Sinister, The Exorcist III, The Conjuring and The Descent all sent people’s heart rates skyrocketing over 120 beats per minute. The competition was close with The Ring, A Quiet Place and Nightmare on Elm Street all coming close to breaking into the top 10!
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