New study reveals the scariest horror movie of all time

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

It’s nearly Halloween season, which means it’s time for things to go bump in the night and for horror movies to give you the heebie-jeebies. But which frightening flick reigns supreme in the scare stakes? We now, incredibly, have an answer – according to science, that is.

So, the scariest horror movie of all time? That would be 2012’s Scott Derrickson-directed horror movie Sinister. Following in second place is Insidious, while The Conjuring, Hereditary, and Paranormal Activity round out the top five.

But what’s the methodology behind the spooky study, commissioned by Broadbandchoices for their Science of Scare project?

Simple: put together a list of the top 50 horror movies – across IMDb, Reddit and the like – wrangle some willing participants, connect them to a heart monitor and away you go. Throw in the audience member’s average resting heart rate for each movie compared to their usual resting heart rate and you get the results once you work out the difference.

While Sinister may have topped the charts for this study, it was actually James Wan’s Insidious that caused the biggest spike in heart rates, with one scene generating a pulse-pounding 133 beats-per-minute. Not for the faint-hearted then, clearly.

Now, I’m not a horror person in the slightest – Hereditary messed me up for a long time – but if you want to go all-in this Halloween, you could do a lot worse than this complete top 10...

  • Sinister
  • Insidious
  • The Conjuring
  • Hereditary
  • Paranormal Activity
  • It Follows
  • The Conjuring 2
  • The Babadook
  • The Descent
  • The Visit

Ready to come out from behind the sofa? Here are the 30 best horror movies ever made.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.