10 scariest horror movies of all time, according to heart rates


There's nothing like a good horror movie to set the mood for HalloweenThere’s nothing like a good horror movie to set the mood for Halloween — Photo courtesy of iStock / miodrag ignjatovic

Nothing says Halloween like dimming the lights and scaring the pants off ourselves with a good horror flick. And that might be more popular than ever during this year of social distancing.

“Scary movies are powerful mindfulness devices,” explains Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Chambers. “You’re unlikely to be worrying about anything else while watching one, and they are a distraction from the monotony of everyday life, creating a novel experience.”

But which horror films from years and decades past deliver the most jumps and jolts?

The measurement experts at GIGACalculator.com decided to find out by asking 150 people to watch each of a set of selected horror films for the first time while wearing a heart rate tracker. The films were chosen via a survey of 2,542 horror fans who were asked to name their top 10 scariest films of all time.

The science has spoken. If you’re ready for a scare, these 10 horror films have been shown to get the heart racing:

10. The Exorcist (96 BPM)

The 1973 classic “The Exorcist” comes in at tenth place, proving that true terror is timeless. This creepy tale of a girl possessed is widely considered as one of the scariest movies of all time.

9. The Conjuring 2 (97 BPM)

This second installment in “The Conjuring” series follows two paranormal investigators as they travel to the United Kingdom to probe some reported poltergeist activity. Director James Wan is known as a master of crafting great “gotcha” horror moments.

8. It (99 BPM)

The 2017 iteration of Stephen King’s classic coming-of-age horror follows four youngsters in Derry, Maine as they face down a shape-shifting evil that comes from the sewers to prey on children. If you weren’t already afraid of clowns, wait until you watch this.

7. Us (100 BPM)

Jordan Peele’s 2019 film received a 93-percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes – high praise, especially for a sophomore project. “Us” explores the darker side of the human psyche through a tale of evil doppelgängers.

6. The Descent (103 BPM)

This 2005 British adventure horror film follows six women in their struggle to survive a spelunking adventure gone wrong. Fans of the genre have praised the film for its ruthless intensity.

5. A Quiet Place (106 BPM)

John Krasinski made a departure from his comedy roots when he directed and starred in this post-apocalyptic horror flick about a family forced to live in silence to avoid creatures that hunt by sound.

4. Insidious (108 BPM)

“Insidious,” a 2010 supernatural horror film, has been described on Rotten Tomatoes as “a very scary and very fun haunted house thrill ride.” Another horror success from the minds who brought you “Saw,” James Wan and Leigh Whannell.

3. The Babadook (110 BPM)

This Australian film from 2014 puts a sinister twist on the bedtime story with a dark tale of a children’s book come to life. The film raises hairs with the power of apprehension rather than jump scares.

2. Saw (113 BPM)

The first film in the iconic “Saw” horror franchise was released way back in 2003, but its ability to scare seems as potent as ever. Some of the more disturbing scenes made volunteers report feeling frightened even after the movie ended.

1. Hereditary (115 BPM)

This 2018 supernatural horror film raised participant pulses to an average of 115 beats per minute (BPM), a significant jump over the average resting heart rate of 60 to 100 BPM. Volunteers described the pervasive sinister and dark mood of the film as key to its fear factor.

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