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Looking to give yourself a good fright this Halloween? Science has determined the scariest horror movie of all time.

Gothtober: The scariest horror movie of all time – according to science

When discussing the scariest horror movie of all time, films like The Exorcist, Halloween, and The Shining could pop up in the conversation. However, a recent study from The Science of Scare Project declared Sinister from 2012 is the scariest film of all time — according to science. 

The Science of Scare Project conducted a study with fifty individuals who were asked to watch over 120 hours of what are considered to be some of the best horror movies. Here is more information on the data gathered from the study.

The ultimate horror movie

For the study, the fifty participants watched fifty horror movies and had their heart rates monitored while viewing the films. The list of films was compiled based on reviews from critics & Reddit recommendations. The movies were then ranked from most to least scary based on which film garnered the largest physical reaction from participants. 

According to the data, Sinister drew the largest physical reaction, deeming it the scariest movie of all time, based on the study. Sinister took an average person’s heart rate in the study, and cranked it to an average 86 beats per minute (BPM) for each viewer. The highest spike in BPM was 131 which came at the biggest jump-scare of Sinister. For the record, the average resting heart rate is about 65 BPM. 

In second place is Insidious, which did earn the biggest jump-scare by heart rate with 133 BPM. Insidious also had the most jump-scares out of the fifty films. Other films in the top five are The Conjuring, Hereditary, and Paranormal Activity.

Sinister’s reputation 

Before this study was released, Sinister had a solid reputation in the horror community. Sinister stars Ethan Hawke and is directed by Scott Derrickson. Upon its release, Sinister received praise for its acting, directing, and cinematography, but was criticized for relying heavily on horror cliches and jump-scares. 

Sinister performed admirably at the box office, hauling in $87.7 million. It even received a sequel in 2015 – however, Sinister 2 is considered to be significantly worse than its predecessor. Even though audiences praised Sinister, it only received a sixty-three percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Sinister centers around a dad who moves his family into a house of a recently murdered family. The dad discovers footage of the family being murdered and finds a demonic entity known as Bagul within the footage. Soon, Bagul begins to terrorize his family and leaves them in a supernatural nightmare.

Reactions to the study

Did Sinister really deserve the scariest movie title? While the study’s data says Sinister is the scariest movie, many horror fans took to Twitter to voice their own opinions. Plenty of differing tweets flew in about whether Sinister deserved to win. 

Some declared Sinister was the scariest movie they ever saw in theaters, others mentioned while it is scary, calling it the scariest movie of all time is a massive exaggeration. Some tweeted they didn’t even like Sinister altogether.

Also, some exclaimed the study itself is flawed. The study only takes into account the physical reaction of viewers while they’re watching the movie. For many, fear is determined by how much the movie sticks with them after the movie ends. Psychological reactions can be scarier than physical reactions.

While Sinister has plenty of jump-scares, a film like The Shining could be considered scarier for many due to its psychological horror. One user on Twitter says the study is flawed because it is based on how viewers react to jump-scares while a film like Jaws made an “entire generation afraid to go to the beach”. 

Scariness in a horror movie is completely subjective. Someone who has a fear of clowns is going to be more scared of It than Sinister. Many may disagree on just how scary Sinister is, but science deems it the scariest horror movie of all time.

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