Search icon


17th Oct 2023

Scariest scene in horror movie history revealed by new scientific study

Rory Cashin

The scariest scene in horror movie history comes from a film released in 2010.

The single scariest scene in horror movie history has been recorded in a new scientific study, so if you’re looking for a singular moment to completely freak you out this Halloween, look no further.

As part of the Science of Scare project, they get their findings as follows: “Our test subjects are invited to special screenings of our movies where they are fitted with heart rate monitors and their heart rate is tracked throughout each movie. To prevent audience fatigue, screenings take place over the course of several weeks throughout the year, before we publish our results in October, just in time for Halloween.”

As with the 2021 study, Sinister is once again top of the overall scare list, but only comes third in the single scariest scene rankings. One scene in Sinister shot the test subjects’ heart rates up to an average of 131 bpm (up from the average resting heart rate of 64pm), behind a scene in The Conjuring, which sent viewers up to 132bpm.

However, the overall highest spike from any movie was with Insidious, when viewers had their heart rates shoot up to 133 bpm. Now, while the study doesn’t specify which scene in the movie caused the massive spike, I think we all know which scene it is…

JOE recently caught up with Insidious star Patrick Wilson to ask about this legendarily scary scene (check out that full chat here) and he told us:

“For me, I had no clue because, of course, I never see it because he’s behind me. I can tell you through talking with James over the years… I think some of the scares that he’s probably most proud of are in that first movie.”

“In that scene, it’s Barbara Hershey talking about seeing The Visitor so you’re in her world and you keep coming back to the same shot of me: ‘Oh right’. And then you’re kind of like: ‘right… Oh God!’. You just don’t expect it.”

As for the actual scariest movies of all time, here are the fifteen scariest according to the study:

  1. Sinister
  2. Host
  3. Skinamarink
  4. Insidious
  5. The Conjuring
  6. Hereditary
  7. Smile
  8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  9. Hell House LLC
  10. Talk To Me
  11. The Descent
  12. The Conjuring 2
  13. It Follows
  14. The Dark and the Wicked
  15. Paranormal Activity