Whether it's zombies, ghosts or anything else that goes 'bump in the night', is there anything better than a good horror movie? But of the hundreds of horror flicks, which is the ultimate 'king of fright night'? Our scientific study tracked heart rates throughout some of the world's most iconic horror films, to study the science of scary, and find the undisputed scariest horror film of all time!
The Science of Scare Project 2021
Is there anything better than a truly terrifying movie? One that gets your heart pounding, makes you jump out of your seat or sleep with the lights on?
We don't think so. But with such a wide variety of streaming services, giving us an endless supply of horror films at our fingertips, it can be hard to know which can give you a true fight night, and which are child’s play.
That's why in 2020 BroadbandChoices.co.uk founded the Science of Scare Project, an experiment to categorically find the scariest movies in existence, based on what gets audiences heart’s pumping.
Following the success of the 2020 debut edition, which named 2012’s Sinister as the scariest movie of all time. The Science of Scare Project has returned for 2021, bigger than ever.
The Science of scare
For 2021 we invited 250 ‘victims’ to watch 40 of world’s scariest horror movies, including new entries to the genre from the past 18 months selected from Reddit recommendations (thanks r/horror) and critic’s best of lists.
Our shortlist of movies was based on the top 30 films that charted in our 2020 Science of Scare Project, along with new entries and other movies that may have slipped through the net.
Once we had our shortlist, we fitted our participants with heart rate monitors and invited them into our specially designed ‘screaming rooms’ to watch the movies over the course of several weeks, under medical and researcher supervision.
From here we measured the average impact our shortlisted movies had on the heart rate (measured in BPM) of our subjects, compared to the average resting BPM of 64.
Naturally, all participants were subject to Covid-19 testing and screening rooms were thoroughly sanitized and ventilated between viewings.
Who Scares Wins
In 2020, our study ranked Scott Derrickson’s Sinister (2012) as the most scientifically scary movie ever made, but would it hold its crown against tough competition from new entries?
The answer: no. The 2021 Science of Scare Project has crowned a new champion of horror, with Rob Savage’s low budget Host which was released in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic is scientifically the scariest film of all time.
Despite being shot in just 12 weeks and entirely through Zoom video conferencing, Host terrified our audiences in its short 56 minute runtime, increasing heart rates by an average of 24 BPM and pushing Sinister to second place.
A Shudder original movie from British director Rob Savage, Host began life as a 2 minute prank skit that went viral across twitter, before being developed into a 56 minute feature film in just 12 weeks.
The movie, which was shot through Zoom video conferencing software during the covid-19 tells the story of a group of friends who take part in a virtual seance during one of their regular pandemic video catch-ups.
What follows is an intense hour-long thrill ride with some genuinely scary moments in one of the best examples of the new 'video chat' genre of horror films, that will hit on the nose for anyone afraid of the supernatural, lived alone in the pandemic, or has suffered one too many 'virtual pub quizzes'.
Science of Scare 2021 Full Results
Host was one of seven new entries to the top 25 scientifically scariest movies list, with John Krasinky’s A Quiet Place Part 2, Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s Candyman all securing spots on the list.
2021 also saw two foreign language films break into the top 25 with Terrified and Spanish quarantine horror [REC] making their way onto the list.
With so many new entries, 2021’s study meant we sadly said goodbye to several all-time horror greats including The Thing, The Witch, Scream, The Orphanage and Annabelle which all failed to break into the top 30.
You can see the full results on our Science of Scare 2021 infographic or compare 2021’s results to the 2020 study in the table below.
Agree with our list? Hate it? Have suggestions for movies we might have missed? Let us know on social media with the hashtag #ScienceOfScare!
Science of scare 2020 results