These Are The Scariest Movies Of All Time, According To Actual Science

2020 pandemic-era horror film Host is again the scariest movie of all time according to a study measuring heart rates.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published


By measuring heart rates, the website BroadBandChoices has determined the scariest movies of all time, judged by how viewers heart rates change while watching the film. With this metric, Host, a 2020 pandemic-era Shudder original movie, is the scariest movie of all time. Unseating the previous holder of that title, for eight years, Scott Derrickson’s Sinister, which is still at number two and confirms the director, with The Black Phone placing at number 30, as one of the best horror directors of all time.

Methodology to determine the scariest movies of all time involved 250 subjects watching 40 films, sourced from critics lists, the 2021 list, and relevant sections of Reddit. Each participant watched the films alone, with heart monitors, in order to reduce variables and make the study as objective as possible. Typically, determining the best of anything is difficult due to the subjective nature of consuming media, but studying biological functions and averaging out over 250 participants is as good a method as any.

Viewers watching Host, as with all of the movies, had a baseline of 64 Beats Per Minute (BPM), an average BPM of 88, and a top end spike of 130 BPM. Sinister was right behind, with an average BPM of 86 and a total spike rate of 130 BPM, losing the title by only 2 BPM. From 2021 to 2022, the top five scariest movies of all time using this BPM measurement were unchanged, rounding out the top five with Insidious, The Conjuring and Hereditary.

Placing in the top ten scariest movies for the first time is DASHCAM, director Rob Savage’s follow up to Host, joining Derrickson, James Wan (Insidious, Conjuring) and Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) as the only four with multiple movies on the list. Outside of the top ten, the other new movies to the list in 2022 are Occulus, in 25th place, and The Autopsy of Jane Doe in 15th place. With the new additions, the Candyman remake, Invisible Man remake, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and the first Friday the 13th, have fallen off of the list.

texas chainsaw massacre
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is still on the list

New films that failed to make it on the list, just barely according to the creators of the list, were Nope, X, Scream, and Malignant. Some of the other films that are on the list include The Descent, in 13th place, The Ring made it on in spot 17, 2017’s IT is 22, just ahead of genre classic, The Exorcist. Proving how vast the genre is, the scariest movies list includes slasher films, thrillers, found footage, and even the pandemic-era video chat style of horror.

Scary movies can be funny, they can make you think, they can subvert expectations, end on a happy note, or end on a complete downer, all of which has helped the genre survive huge shifts in movie-going culture. Some of the scariest movies of all time on the list are from the 70’s and 80’s, proving that good horror will stand the test of time. There is a reason that in the age of gigantic blockbusters, the relatively cheap horror film can bring in five or six times its budget, people have always loved being scared and always will.