Sinister – Why Determined the Scariest Movies According To Science ?

June 10, 2024

The scariest jump scare, however, belongs to Insidious.


AMA scientific study has determined that 2012’s Sinister is the scariest movie of all-time. Scary can be defined by many things and ranges from person to person. Some people are more scared by the drawn-out, gets-under-your-skin horror found in movies like Midsommar while others prefer the more in-your-face scares found in the likes of The Conjuring or Insidious.

According to Forbes, a scientific study by broadbandchoices determined that no movie, however, is scarier than Sinister.

Sinister: Red Band Trailer

The ranking is the fourth annual report from broadbandchoices Science of Scare Project. Researchers equipped 250 participants with heart monitors which recorded their reactions as they watched hundreds of hours of spooky movies. The scores are determined based on heart rate (HR), as well as heart rate variance (HRV), and then are assigned a “Scare Score” out of a possible 100.

With a Scare Score of 96 out of 100, Sinister was determined to be the scariest movie of all time. It was previously voted the scariest movie of all time in 2020, before being unseated two years in a row by trendy Zoom-horror Host (which fell to No. 2 this year).

“Our audience experienced a 34 percent uplift in heart rate when watching [Sinister], from 64 BPM up to 86 BPM across the movie, with the film’s scariest moment sending hearts pounding to 131 BPM,” researchers said in their statement. According to the report, the results indicated “a perfect balance of startling moments and slow-burn scares.”

Scott Derrickson’s post-found-footage thriller stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who moves his wife (Juliet Rylance) and children into a house where a series of notorious family murders have taken place. Before the silly third act, it’s a genuinely unnerving movie, with haunting visuals and a terrific industrial score.

Surprisingly, the top ten preferred lower-budget, direct-to-streaming titles over legacy ones. Rounding out the top were 2022’s experimental film Skinamarink, James Wan’s haunted house yarn Insidious, and Wan’s (now scientifically proven) less effective The Conjuring.

Though it ranked fourth, Insidious achieved the highest BPM spike of the 50 films listed, rising to 133 from a resting heart rate of 64. This means it contains the scariest scene of any movie surveyed. However, the results didn’t elaborate as to which particular moment got viewers so worked up.

Source: IGN

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