Halloween is coming up fast, which means loads of people are on the hunt for a good scary movie to watch right now. But with so many great horror films on the market, which is the right one? More importantly, which one will actually keep you up at night?
Well, science may be able to help with that.
The Science of Scare project has developed a method to determine exactly which horror movie is the scariest based on heart rate data. The project sat 50 people down in a room with 5.1 surround sound to watch 50 of the best horror movies, as recommended by critics lists.
Examining heart rate monitors on each of the participants helped to determine exactly which moments in each film were the scariest and which kept hearts rates consistently high.
The number one horror film to rule them all, according to the study, is Sinister. The 2012 film, from director Scott Derrickson, follows the story of a crime writer who discovers a series of 8mm films showing footage of the gruesome murders he’s currently researching. The film kept participants’ average heart rate at 86bpm with the highest spike at 131bpm. For the record, a human’s average resting heart rate sits around 65bpm.
To help you pull your horror film watch list, we’ve listed the 20 scary films that kept heart rates above average for you below.
The best scary movies, according to heart rates
- Sinister (watch it on Stan)
- Insidious (watch it on ABC iview)
- The Conjuring (watch it on Netflix)
- Hereditary (watch it on Binge)
- Paranormal Activity (watch it on ABC iview)
- It Follows (watch it on Foxtel GO)
- The Conjuring 2 (watch it on Netflix)
- The Babadook (watch it on Netflix)
- The Descent (watch it on Stan)
- The Visit (watch it on Amazon Prime Video)
- The Ring (watch it on Stan)
- A Quiet Place (rent it on services like Apple TV and Amazon Prime)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (watch it on Stan)
- Halloween (watch it on Stan)
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (rent it on services like Apple TV and Amazon Prime)
- 28 Days Later (watch it on Disney+)
- The Exorcist (watch it on Netflix)
- Hush (watch it on Netflix)
- IT (watch it on Binge)
- Scream (watch it on Stan)
Insidious, at number two, also holds the title of the best jump scare, bringing heart rates to 133bpm, so keep an eye out for that if you’re watching.
Can’t argue with science, right? If you’re looking for something truly scary this Halloween weekend, maybe check out one of these recommended films and see if they were right.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.