Science of Scare's research on horror movies ranked by heart rate has created a baseline to even more efficiently argue about which fright films are the most terrifying. It's a great idea; measuring the heart rates of victims to see which movies are the most shocking is a way to settle what is usually a subjective argument. However, after getting feedback from horror fans, who made the point that jumpscares aren't the only thing that counts in horror, the Science of Scare revised its methodology. They added the variance of the heart rate, or how long it is between beats, to measure stress to account for slow burn horror. These variables combine in an average scare score, introduced for the 2023 list, to make the list more accurate. Art is so hard to quantify, but science is there to let us know just how a movie affects us inside while we are watching. It's fascinating. All bpm scores are scored from a baseline heart rate of 64. Anyway, here's the list of the top ten scary movies ranked by heart rate for 2023, and you might see some old favorites pop back up. Read more: This Isn’t A Man: The Shape of Halloween.
1. Sinister (2012)
Hey there demons, it's ya, boi! Yes, Scott Derrickson's Sinister has indeed recaptured the top spot after dropping to number two in 2022. The movie achieved a scare score of 96 because it bested last year's number one fright film with a heart rate variance of 21 bpm and the highest beat-per-minute spike of 131 bpm or two categories out of four. The film's average movie heart rate was 86 bpm, and the overall difference was 22 bpm. Sinister stars Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, and Clare Foley and was written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill.
2. Host (2020)
Host, directed by Rob Savage, has dropped to second place after a year in the top spot. While Host scared up a heart average movie heart rate of 88 bpm for a difference of 24 bpm, the two other scores were slightly lower than Sinister in the percentage of heart rate difference, 18 bpm, and highest heart rate spike, 130 bpm. This highly successful found footage screenlife movie has the frights to challenge for the top spot. Maybe next year. Host stars Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore, Emma Louise Webb, and Radina Drandova, and it was written by Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage, and Jed Shepherd. Read more: WWWSK: Vampire Resurrection.
3. Skinamarink (2022)
Skinamarink has entered the chat. Kyle Edward Ball's mysterious and maddening epic of low-key terror. It jumps to third on the list with an average movie heart rate of 84 bpm, an overall difference of 20 bpm, a heart rate variance of 22 bpm, and the highest spike bpm of 113 for a scare score of 91. I think I know exactly which moment caused that spike. The film was an artistic and financial success despite its refusal to adhere to standard filmmaking techniques. It stars Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, and Jaime Hill. Read more: Skinamarink: A Transmission Of Evil.
4. Insidious (2010)
James Wan's Insidious is film number four, with an average movie heart rate of 85 bpm and an overall difference of 21 bpm, slightly higher than Skinamarink, but has a heart rate variance of 18 bpm, yet the highest bpm spike of 133 bpm, which is one of the highest spikes in the entire chart. However, the movie had a scare score of 90 due to the new scoring guidelines. Insidious stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey.
5. The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan scored another film in the top ten with The Conjuring, right after his first film on the chart. With an average movie heart rate of 84 bpm, an overall difference of 20 bpm, a heart rate average variance of 18 bpm, and the highest heart rate spike of 132 bpm, audience members find James Wan's films very scary. It's got a scare score of 88. Having two films in a row is quite an achievement. The Conjuring stars Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor and is written by Leigh Whannell.
6. Hereditary (2018)
This modern classic horror film directed by Ari Aster, in his feature film debut, has an average movie heart rate of 82 bpm, an overall difference of 18 bpm, a heart rate variance average of 19 bpm, and the highest heart rate spike of 104 bpm for a scare score of 81. Hereditary is definitely heavy on shocking moments that thrill the audience but have an emotional impact, and you can tell from these scores. It stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne.
7. Smile (2022)
Parker Finn wrote and directed Smile, which is sixth on the list. The film has an average heart rate of 83 bpm, an overall difference of bpm with 19 bpm, a heart rate variance average of 15 bpm, and a highest spike of 96 bpm. That gives the film a scare score of 78. Smile seems to come in more on the side of jump scares and less slow burn, but that's okay. All horror is good as long as it scares you. It stars Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, and Kal Penn.
8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Scott Derrickson returns to the top ten with his film The Exorcism of Emily Rose. His second movie on the list has an average movie heart rate of 82 bpm, an overall difference in heart rate of 18 bpm, a heart rate variance of 17 bpm, and a highest spike of 96 bpm for a scare score of 76. It proves that even after almost two decades, this movie still scares the fans with its excellent cast. It stars Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Colm Feore, Jennifer Carpenter, Mary Beth Hurt, Henry Czerny, and Shohreh Aghdashloo.
9. Hell House LLC (2015)
Hell House LLC is a found footage film, the second one on this list, written and directed by Stephen Cognetti. Presented as a documentary, five people who operate a haunted house are filming the goings on when tragedy strikes. The film scores an average movie heart rate of 81 bpm, an overall difference of 17 bpm, a heart rate difference of 16, and the highest spike of 107 bpm for a scare score of 75, which ties it with Talk To Me. It stars Ryan Jennifer Jones, Danny Bellini, Gore Abrams, and Jared Hacker.
10. Talk To Me (2022)
Talk To Me is Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou's feature debut that electrified the film festival circuit and became A24's highest-grossing film to date. It is widely considered one of the year's best films. This quickly proves that horror is alive and well in 2023. The film has an average movie heart rate of 79 bpm, an overall difference of 18 bpm, a heart rate variance of 15 bpm, and the highest spike of 106 bpm combined for a scare score of 75, which ties it with Hell House LLC. It stars Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, and Zoe Terakes and was written by Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman. Read more: Talk To Me Directors Already Made A Prequel To Their A24 Horror Film.