This is supposedly the scariest horror movie ever made

A new scientific study measured the heart rates of horror fans to see which movies freaked them out the most.

by Tom George
21 October 2020, 12:34pm

As the queens of Love Island have proven to us this past week, horror films can be subjective -- but one study has singled out what they believe could be the scariest horror movie ever made. While some people want the jump scares and edge-of-your-seat thrills of movies like The Conjuring or Jordan Peele’s Us, others prefer the darker, brooding ones that get under your skin and leave you deep in thought: think A24’s Midsommar or the recently acclaimed I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. This Halloween, what with us all being stuck indoors, there’s even more time to curl up with an array of horror films, popcorn and bad vibes. So what should we be watching to truly freak ourselves out?

Broadband providers BroadbandChoices’ study, called the ‘Science of Scare’ project, monitored the heart rates of participants as they watched 120 hours of IMDB’s top rated scary movies. On the whole, contemporary horror films scared people more than the classics. Throughout all of the movies, the watchers’ heart rates evened out at an average of 80bpm, compared to the regular resting heart rate, which is around 62bpm.

But there was one that made those heart rates skyrocket: 2012’s Sinister. The movie, starring Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer investigating a murder, follows a family as they move into the house where said murder occurred. They soon find themselves in danger after watching a box of Super 8 snuff films found in the attic. Researchers found that the average heart rate of those watching Sinister was 86bpm -- but it increased to 131bpm during some of the jump scares. “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 study’s creator Daniel Clifford said of its purpose.

Coming in close second in this vital and very necessary study of the scariest horror movies ever made was 2010’s Insidious, which also featured the biggest jump scare of any movie. (Anybody who’s seen it knows the one.) Others appearing in the top 10 include A24’s seminal cut-throat horror Hereditary, found footage supernatural horror Paranormal Activity, and — repping it for the psychological freak-out fans — Aussie contemporary classic, The Babadook.