Horror fans argue all the time about what the scariest horror film is - but how to prove it? Well, medical science took a crack at it by using heart rate monitoring to measure viewers' reactions to various horror movies (via BroadBand Choices): "Our scientific study tracked heart rates throughout some of the world's most iconic horror films, to study the science of scary, and find the undisputed scariest horror film of all time!" The outcome of the study? Sinister is the scariest movie ever made - at least in terms of how viewers bodies respond to it.
Here's the explanation of "The Science of Scare" experiment to measure horror movie scares:
The Science of scare
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.
Here's how the Top 10 rankings ultimately ended up:
- Sinister - 86 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
- Insidious - 85 BPM
- The Conjuring - 84 BPM
- Hereditary - 83 BPM
- Paranormal Activity - 82 BPM
- It Follows - 81 BPM
- The Conjuring 2 - 80 BPM
- The Babadook - 80 BPM
- The Descent 79 BPM
- The Visit 79 BPM
So just how scientific is all this? It's questionable. Horror is not a genre that can arguably be judged objectively on its scare-factor; the notion of "horror" changes with the times and tastes of the audience. It doesn't take an analytical genius to look at this list (and the full infographic of 35 movies studied) and notice that there's some clear recency bias at work: Movies released in the 2010s tend to rank higher on the list, while many older films (some considered to be horror "classics") end up lower the list. So is M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit really scarier than Stanley Kubrick's The Shining or John Carpenter's The Thing? To younger audiences, it may be.
Sinister (2012) followed a washed-up true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves into a home where a vicious murder took place. While investigating the crime, the writer attracts the presence of a demonic entity that has been killing entire families for years on end.
You can check out the full infographic, below: