Scariness is a subjective experience, so it's arguably hard to quantify and rank something like horror movies. Just kidding! This is the internet we're talking about here. People rank and subsequently verbally attack each other for our decisions all the damn time. Still, we gotta take umbrage with a recent "scientific" study that promised to determine the scariest movie ever made, because its results... well, just see for yourself.
Sinister choices — So, according to the internet service provider guide site, Broadband Choices, 2012's Sinister is the "Ultimate Horror Movie," which is... certainly a choice. To be fair, the methodology, while certainly not a foolproof way to determine something like scares, was pretty creative. After determining a selection of 50 films based on various critics' lists and fan discussions, Broadband Choices assembled fifty people to watch each title while fitted with a heart rate monitor to determine which ones produced the most jolts.
For Scott Derrickson's genre entry starring Ethan Hawke, the test audience's average heart rate came in at 82 BPM, which is about 32 percent over a normal standing heart rate of 62 BPM. Sinister also apparently included one of the highest single spikes in heart rates, with a jump scare clocking 131 BPM. The runner-up? 2010's Insidious, which is also perplexing to us, since it's a lot of fun but definitely not, like, "Second Scariest of All Time" fun.
Jump scares, and little else — Look, we're not trying to get all high-brow film critic over here, but we do have to mention that a horror movie isn't all jump scares and heightened heart rates. The feeling of dread, the film's takeaway message, and its imagery all are huge factors, obviously. Take, for instance, something like Robert Eggers' The Witch from back in 2015. According to Broadband Choices' study, it barely earned an honorable "Best of the Rest" mention, but while the movie wasn't chock full of jump scares, it was still inventive, spooky as hell, and pretty damn disturbing.
Also, how the hell is The Silence of the Lambs nowhere to be found on that list? But hey, everyone's a critic, right? Unfortunately, given the mess that is COVID-19, it seems unlikely that we'll get a properly scary theater experience anytime soon. At least broadband is only getting faster, so even more people can get spooked from the comfort of their own homes in the meantime.