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The Scariest Horror Movie Ever According To Science

Ever get into an argument with friends, family members, or complete strangers on the internet about what the scariest movie ever made is? Who hasn't, right? And we've likely all learned the hard way it's almost impossible to win such an argument because, well, people have their opinions, and these days they generally refuse to be swayed from them. Plus, different people find different things scary. Giant spiders and clowns with red balloons may freak out some people but completely unphase others.

At least on the "scariest horror movie" front, the next time you find yourself in the middle of such discourse, you'll potentially be able to point your opposition in the direction of science to support your claim. That's thanks to the hard work of the folks at the UK's Broadband Choices, who set out last year to use the scientific method to determine the scariest movie of all time. Their "Science of Scare" project exposed a group of viewers to some of horror's most iconic films while researchers examined how much each film raised their individual heart rates as proof of its scariness. 

As reported by several outlets (including Nerdist) in 2020, Scott Derrickson's profoundly disturbing 2012 creeper "Sinister" was the first horror flick to be crowned "scariest of all time." The study was such a resounding success, Broadband Choices undertook it again in 2021, adding a handful of recent releases to their screening list. Sure enough, one of those new films has dethroned "Sinister" as science's all-time scariest movie, and the film that took the crown will likely surprise you.

Host is a truly terrifying film, according to science

For reference, the list of selected films fronted such iconic titles as "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and "The Exorcist" alongside modern classics like "The Descent," "The Babadook," and "It: Chapter 1." Those frightful films are all currently looking up at the 2020 Shudder Original "Host," which science has officially dubbed the scariest movie ever made.

We're guessing some of you, maybe even a lot of you either haven't seen or haven't even heard of "Host." Should that be the case, you need to seek it out ASAP, as it's an extraordinarily creepy little film that gets under your skin in ways few horror flicks do. Written and directed by genre up-and-comer Rob Savage, "Host" clocks in at a brisk 56-minutes in length, and was shot entirely during COVID-19 lockdown utilizing the Zoom platform. In that format, "Host" finds a small group of friends attempting to stay in touch during isolation with weekly calls, during which one of them hires a medium to conduct an online séance.

Without spoiling anything, we'll just say things quickly get creepy for the group, and that "Host" is a supremely clever, legitimately terrifying piece of work well worthy of that top spot. As for the other films on the list, "Sinister," "Insidious," "The Conjuring," and "Hereditary" round out the top five in that order, with the likes of "It Follows," "A Quiet Place: Part II," and "Paranormal Activity" all placing in the top 10.  

Other horror movies could have a claim as all time scariest based on other criteria

You know what they say, "Everyone's a critic." And despite the fact that science has crowned a clear winner for the scariest movie of all time (at least for the moment), there will always be others trying to convince their point of view is the right one. And looking online, there are plenty of other lists that insist other movies deserve to dethrone "Host."

You can find a list of the scariest movies of all time ranked by IMDb users. By those metrics, the clear winner is the classic 1973 film "The Exorcist. Roughly 384,000 users have given the movie a rating on the platform, and over the years, "The Exorcist" has earned itself a cozy spot with 8.0 out of 10 stars. That kind of rating doesn't come by every day, and it's clear that even though the movie is several decades old, it still finds a way to crawl under people's skin. "The Exorcist" also tops the ranks over on Rotten Tomatoes, where the site writes about the flick, "Outside of its critical and commercial bona fides, the film is well-known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience."

That's just one other opinion floating around online. The Guardian lists another 1973 horror movie, "Don't Look Now," as the all-time scariest. Meanwhile, MovieWeb bestows the honor to "The Blair Witch Project," in large part for reigniting interest in the found footage subgenre. While "Host" has science behind it, it always seems like a matter of opinion when it comes to movie rankings online.