What's the Scariest Movie of All Time? A New Study Might Have the Answer

Credit: Summit Entertainment
What movies have gotten your heart rate going the most? 

The only time I ever thought I was having a panic attack I was watching Uncut Gemswhich is a horror movie in its own way.

Still, a new study has tracked the beats per minute of people watching horror movies in order to track what they think could be the scariest movie of all time. 

The broadbandchoices "Science of Scare" project followed the heart rates of over 50 people across more than 100 hours of horror films.

“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,” said study creator Daniel Clifford.

So which of your favorites made the top of their list?

Vera Farmiga in 'The Conjuring'
Credit: Warner Bros.

According to the study:

“Our list found that modern horror movies sent hearts pounding faster than classics, with movies like SinisterInsidious, and the Conjuring series scoring particularly high on the list. While horror fanatics might be surprised to see some iconic movies such as Halloween chart comparatively low, it’s worth bearing in mind that while incredible films, they may not have the same instant impact years later... If you’re easy startled, then this definitive list of horror is not for you, but if you’re looking for something to get your heart racing this Halloween, then turn the lights off, but the sound up and remember to check under your bed before you go to sleep.”

Check out their infographic below. 

The Science of Scare
Credit: Broadband Choices

Yes, the Ethan Hawke film, Sinister, took the number-one title. 

It follows a true-crime writer who investigates a string of gruesome murders on film footage, and according to the study, audience members experienced a 32% uplift in heart ratesfrom 65 beats per minute (bpm) to 86 bpm.

One of the more shocking things to me was that only four films more than 20 years old are in the rankingsThe Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

I guess that speaks to movies people had hyped up for them that didn't stand the test of time, or audiences being much more used to jump scares and gore horror, so older tactics might not work on them. 

James Wan is the most popular individual director, with three films in the top 10. 

Kudos to him for attacking our psyche on many levels. 

The full list is as follows:

  1. Sinister
  2. Insidious
  3. The Conjuring
  4. Hereditary
  5. Paranormal Activity
  6. It Follows
  7. The Conjuring 2
  8. The Babadook
  9. The Descent
  10. The Visit
  11. The Ring
  12. A Quiet Place
  13. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  14. Halloween
  15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  16. 28 Days Later
  17. The Exorcist
  18. Hush
  19. It
  20. Scream
  21. The Grudge
  22. The Witch
  23. The Blair Witch Project
  24. Alien
  25. The Thing
  26. Poltergeist
  27. Annabelle
  28. Friday the 13th
  29. The Orphanage
  30. Dark Skies
  31. Wolf Creek
  32. The Omen
  33. The Shining
  34. Get Out
  35. Audition

Were you surprised at any films being left off the list? Let us know in the comments.     

Dig this spooky post? Then check out the rest of our Horror Week coverage for more tips, tricks, and terrifying takes.

Your Comment

4 Comments

Really surprised to see "The Visit" on that list let alone so high but no Jaws?

October 31, 2020 at 3:50AM, Edited October 31, 3:50AM

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a very suspenseful film

October 31, 2020 at 8:16AM

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So they tested 50 films, but only ranked the top 35.
I can't find the list of tested films.
I'm not sure it counts as horror, but I wonder if Frailty would chart well against the other films on the list.

October 31, 2020 at 9:10PM

1
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Matthew Stephens
storyboards
293

Scariest thing I've ever seen is a "Grizzly" 8mm film...

November 5, 2020 at 11:30AM

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