2012's Sinister isn’t a bad movie, it’s just not one of the scariest films of all time—unless, of course, you find yourself unusually concerned about Ethan Hawke’s general well-being and have regular nightmares about business casual Slipknot members. All the same, a study conducted by a, uh, broadband internet deals site, found that a group of people wired up to heart rate monitors had the strongest physical reactions to Sinister out of a group of 35 horror movies.
The “Science Of Scare Project” gathered a sample group of 50 people and had them watch “over 120 hours of the best horror movies” as determined by “critic’s lists and Reddit recommendations.” Sinister achieved the highest average heart rate, though James Wan’s Insidious wins for “Biggest Jump Scares By Heart Rate.” The rest of the top 10 consists of Insidious, The Conjuring, Hereditary, Paranormal Activity, It Follows, The Conjuring 2, The Babadook, The Descent, and The Visit.
While the data’s interesting, it would be a pretty big stretch to claim that it proves anything beyond which movies have really effective jump scares. The list of movies pulls largely from the modern Blumhouse style and the only measurement it uses is how tense and startled viewers got, not how freaked out they were while brushing their teeth before bed later that night. (Even the infographic touches on this point, noting at the bottom that “Scariest =/= best. The Witch and Alien were robbed.)
Unfortunately, given that we live in a world where aggregation wins out over criticism, we have no choice but to live by the findings presented here, lest we turn our backs on science going forward. The scariest movie of all time is now Sinister. Refusing to accept this is, we’re sad to say, as bad as voting for climate change deniers or not wearing a mask during a pandemic and obviously nobody would be ridiculous enough to do those kind of things.
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