Scary season is here and thrill-seekers are watching countless hours of horror movies to celebrate – but a new study finds that not all scary movies are created equal.
A new project equipped participants with heart rate monitors while they watched special screenings, allowing researchers to see which films increased fear and excitement.
The team found that the scariest scene is in “Insidious” and the scariest movie of all time is “Sinister.”
While the study doesn’t mention which part of “Insidious” made people’s hearts flutter, it’s likely the “Demon in the Corner” scene.
While the study doesn’t mention which part of “Insidious” made people’s hearts flutter, it’s likely the “Demon in the Corner” scene
The findings are part of the Science of Scare Project, which compiled the scariest films of the last four years.
The test group includes 250 participants who are equipped with heart rate monitors that monitor their vital signs during each film.
This year’s experiment assessed heart rate and heart rate variance.
The first measures beats per minute, while the second calculates beats in milliseconds.
“When it comes to heart rate (BPM), the higher the number, the faster the film got our audience’s blood pumping, an indicator of excitement and fear as part of your fight or flight instinct,” said the Science of Scare Project.
“On the other hand, heart rate variance (HRV) measures the time between each heartbeat.
A new project equipped participants with heart rate monitors while they watched special screenings, allowing researchers to see which films increased fear and excitement. Shown are the top 10 and the collected heart rate measurements
“The lower the heart rate variance, the more stressed our viewers became, a good indicator that fear and terror are slowly rising.”
The team then combined both results to create a Science of Scare score of 100.
“For comparison, Shrek has a ‘Scare Score’ of three out of 100,” they shared.
Using these measurements, project leaders concluded that Scott Derrickson’s 2012 supernatural horror film “Sinister” is the scariest film of all time.
The film follows true crime author Ellison Oswald, played by Ethan Hawke, who is in crisis after not publishing a bestseller in more than a decade.
He decided to write about the unsolved murder of a seemingly ordinary family.
The youngest child was kidnapped and never seen again, and the other four, including mom and dad, were hanged from a tree in the back garden.
Project leaders found Scott Derrickson’s 2012 supernatural horror film “Sinister” to be the scariest film of all time
When ill-advised, Ellison does more than just research his new project. He moves with his own family into the house where the murders took place.
He discovers a box up there with home videos and a Super 8 projector.
When he plays the harmlessly named roles, he realizes that they are snuff films documenting the murders of five families over the last 50 years.
On a mission to solve the case, Ellison believes the horrific acts were the actions of a serial killer.
But he and his family soon discover something sinister behind the murders.
“Our audience experienced a 34 percent increase in heart rate while watching the film, from 64 beats per minute to 86 beats per minute throughout the film, with the film’s scariest moment sending heart rates racing to 131 beats per minute,” they said Project researcher.
“HRV fell 21 percent among viewers, the second lowest of all films on the list, indicating a perfect balance between surprising moments and slow-burning terror.”
Both together gave Sinister a horror score of 96 out of 100.
While “Insidious” came in at fourth spot for scariest, researchers found that the 2010 film had the highest increase overall.
This means that the film contains the scariest scene in the history of horror films.
The story of Insidious revolves around a married couple whose boy inexplicably falls into a coma and becomes a vessel for various demonic entities on an astral plane.
The red demon with hooves and claws is the evil creature that tempts Dalton, played by Ty Simpkins, who is in a coma.
During the scariest scene, the boy’s grandmother tells his parents how she heard a terrible voice from his room telling her that she wanted Dalton.
Lorraine Lambert (Barbara Hershey) tells the story to her son Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne), and a moment later the red demon appears over Josh’s shoulder.