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The 10 Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To A New Scientific Study

With the spooky season fully underway, you might be scrolling through your streaming services looking for the best horror films to watch this Halloween. Well, the self-proclaimed "mobile, TV, and internet experts" over at UK company broadbandchoices are way ahead of you, as they recently announced the results of their "Science of Scare" project that aimed to identify the scariest movies ever made. 

Using heart rate monitors and a group of willing tributes, they determined the ten most frightening movies of all time — at least according to one particularly interesting metric. To do some scary movie science, the broadband company counted on the fact that nothing gets your heart rate up like a huge dose of fear (although that isn't the only way horror movies affect your body). They attached to 50 people heart rate monitors, sat them in a room, and showed them some of the best-rated horror films — sourced from critics' lists and Reddit discussions, and screening in 5.1 surround sound to really hammer home the spooks. In all, the 50-person panel "consumed over 120 hours of the best horror movies," while their heart rate monitors measured "which movies got their blood pumping the most to find the ultimate horror movie and crown the king of fright night."

The creator of the study, Daniel Clifford, explained in more detail why the study was carried out: "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" (via Forbes). While broadbandchoices' sample size was small and scariness truly is in the eye of the terrified, the results of the "Science of Scare" study offer some fun insight into the most horrifying films in history.

The heart-pumping horror movies that made the list

In tenth place is The Visit, the 2015 found-footage horror flick from director and co-producer M. Night Shyamalan that sees a brother and sister visiting their eccentric grandparents who aren't at all who they seem. Writer-director Neil Marshall's The Descent, about a group of women who become trapped inside a cave system and must fight for their survival, came in ninth place, with Jennifer Kent's terrifying directorial debut The Babadook landing in eight place. 

James Wan's The Conjuring 2 and David Robert Mitchell's It Follows, regarded as one of the best and most inventive horror movies in recent memory, occupy spots seven and six on the "Science of Scare" study's list, with the found-footage film that kicked the genre into overdriveParanormal Activity, coming in fifth position. Hereditary, the jaw-dropping 2018 horror flick from writer-director Ari Aster that made everyone look at telephone poles differently, is the fourth scariest movie of all time, according to the study. And in third is the original Conjuring movie, directed by Wan.

In second place is yet another Wan feature: Insidious, which had the biggest jump scare of all the films shown during the study, as determined by the highest heart rate spike of the group at 133 beats per minute.

2012's Sinister wins the pulse-pounding pageant

And finally, coming in at the top of the list — the scariest movie ever made, according to broadbandchoices — is 2012's Sinister. 

From Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, Sinister stars Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who finds footage of disturbing murders in the attic of his new home. The film truly got viewers' hearts racing, with the average heart rate amongst the 50 participants reaching 86 beats per minute — 32 percent higher than their average resting heart rate of 65 beats per minute.

Insidious and Sinister producer Jason Blum once teased that there may be a crossover between the two films in the future – which, considering they're at the top of this list, has the potential to be truly terrifying (assuming it doesn't mimic Sinister 2's disappointment).

Almost all of the films that made broadbandchoices' top ten were released in the years since Insidious upended the horror movie genre in 2011. Impressively, Wan directed three of these top ten scariest films — Insidious, The Conjuring, and The Conjuring 2 – clearly securing his reputation as a horror master.

If you're a fan of horror but want to watch something a bit less terrifying than one of the top ten scariest movies ever made, broadbandchoices has your back. In spots 11 through 20 are some true horror gems: The Ring, A Quiet Place, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 28 Days Later, The Exorcist, Hush, It, and Scream. The company also shared a section for "the best of the rest" — the 21st through the 35th scariest films of all time. They are: The Grudge, The Witch, The Blair Witch Project, Alien, The Thing, Poltergeist, Annabelle, Friday the 13th, The Orphanage, Dark Skies, Wolf Creek, The Omen, The Shining, Get Out, and Audition.