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What is the scariest movie ever made? New study tested viewer heart rates to find out

The title of scariest movie goes to 2012's 'Sinister.'
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Watching a scary movie.

LOS ANGELES — Editor's note: Video at the top of this story is from October 2018. 

What is the scariest movie of all time? It’s a frequently debated topic this time of year, but a new study may have found the answer.

How did they do it? A panel of 50 people were attached to heart rate monitors to measure how their bodies reacted while watching more than 120 hours of the spookiest horror movies.

The team at Broadband Choices then ranked the top 35 scary movies based on the average heart rate of the participants.

After crunching all the data, Broadband Choices said the title of scariest movie goes to 2012’s Sinister, which tallied a terrifying average of 86 beats per minute with a spike of 131 beats per minute after one of the film’s jump scares.

Insidious and The Conjuring weren’t far behind, finishing in second and third place.

The biggest jump scare award was given to Insidious as viewers hit an average of 133 beats per minute at one point.

Here are the top 35 scariest movies based on the heart rate study:

  1. Sinister
  2. Insidious
  3. The Conjuring
  4. Hereditary
  5. Paranormal Activity
  6. It Follows
  7. The Conjuring 2
  8. The Babadook
  9. The Descent
  10. The Visit
  11. The Ring
  12. A Quiet Place
  13. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  14. Halloween
  15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  16. 28 Days Later
  17. The Exorcist
  18. Hush
  19. It
  20. Scream
  21. The Grudge
  22. The Witch
  23. The Blair Witch Project
  24. Alien
  25. The Thing
  26. Poltergeist
  27. Annabelle
  28. Friday the 13th
  29. The Orphanage
  30. Dark Skies
  31. Wolf Creek
  32. The Omen
  33. The Shining
  34. Get Out
  35. Audition

Broadband Choices' team said they reviewed critic lists and Reddit to determine the 50 best scary movies for the panel to watch.


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