sinister movie 2012
Summit Entertainment

The Scariest Horror Movies of All Time, According to Science

What makes a horror movie truly terrifying? Well, science may have the answer. The Broadband Choices 2022 “Science of the Scare” study claims to have determined the scariest horror films of all time.


What Makes a Horror Movie Scary

Just what makes a horror movie so scary? The answer is complicated. One of the most important elements is the use of suspense. A horror movie builds suspense by keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what will happen next. Additionally, horror films often rely on jump scares, loud noises, and creepy visuals to create a sense of fear and dread. Of course, the soundtrack plays a major role in creating a sense of tension and horror.

Another factor is the story. A good horror movie should have a compelling plot line and characters that viewers can connect with. Without an exciting story, a horror film is likely to fall flat. But when done right, the plot can keep viewers invested and scared.

Finally, horror films rely on psychological elements to create a sense of fear. This includes things like fear of the unknown and fear of death. By tapping into our primal fears, horror films can create an intense and frightening experience for viewers.


How Does One Measure ‘Scaryness’?

We all know jumpscares are effective, but how does one put a measurement or value to a scare? In Broadband Choices ‘Science of the Scare’ study from 2022, they looked at a variety of metrics, including the use of suspense and jump scares, the storyline, and the psychological elements of fear, all while monitoring the heart rates of their 250 participants as they viewed nominated films over a period of months (to prevent fatigue). After careful analysis, they were able to compile a list of the scariest horror films, based on the overall rise in heart rate, the number and volume of heart rate peaks (those darn jumpscares), and the heart rate difference overall from the subjects’ resting states.

So, let’s take a look at the top 5 scariest horror movies of all time, according to science.



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HOST (2020)

The winner of the ‘Science of the Scare’ award for the scariest horror movie of all time is HOST. This low-budget British film was released in 2020 and centers around six friends who held a Zoom seance during the height of the covid pandemic. But what begins as a lighthearted chat turns into a scary experience when strange events begin to take place. According to the study, the fear of the unknown, combined with a “techno-paranoia”, resulted in an unprecedented level of terror among participants.

Where to Watch:


Sinister movie 2012
Summit Entertainment


Coming in at a close second is SINISTER, a 2012 film starring Ethan Hawke. This movie follows the story of a true crime writer who discovers a box of home movies in his attic. When he watches the films, he discovers that the footage contains scenes of gruesome murders. The intense atmosphere and creepy soundtrack made viewers feel like the horror was happening right in front of them, and it was this feeling that made it one of the scariest movies of all time.

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Another movie that made the list is INSIDIOUS, a 2010 film starring Patrick Wilson. The movie follows a family as they try to uncover the mystery behind their son’s strange behaviors. As they dig deeper, they uncover a supernatural force trying to take over their son’s body. The combination of jump scares and a suspenseful soundtrack made viewers feel like they were in the movie and further added to its terror.

Where to Watch:



the conjuring 2013
Warner Bros.


The fourth scariest film according to the study is THE CONJURING, a 2013 film starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson (again). The movie follows a family as they move into a haunted farmhouse and are terrorized by a demonic spirit. What makes this movie so terrifying is the way it builds tension. Every scene is filled with dread and foreboding, which ratchets up the fear for viewers.

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nightmare on film street horror movie tshirts
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Last but not least is HEREDITARY, the 2018 film starring Toni Collette. The movie follows a family as they unravel the secrets of their matriarch’s dark past. As the story progresses, viewers are taken on a horrifying journey as the family members experience supernatural events. The movie’s bleak atmosphere and shocking ending rank it as one of the most terrifying movies of all time.

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So there you have it, the five scariest horror movies of all time according to Broadband Choices 2022 ‘Science of the Scare’ study. If you want a guaranteed movie night filled with fear, suspense, and those darn jumpscares, any of these five movies will definitely do the trick!


Do you agree with science? Chat your thoughts and nominations for the scariest horror films of all time over in the NOFS Discord or our Twitter!

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