According to science, “Sinister” is the scariest movie ever. Yes, you heard that right. In a study conducted for the consumer comparison website Broad Band Choices, participants watched more than 120 hours of horror films in 5.1 surround sound to determine which horror film would take home the title of scariest movie of all time.
The study has been dubbed the “Science of Scare Project” and involves a panel of 50 people of varying ages watching 50 of the highest-rated horror movies according to IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Reddit forums. The participants were then monitored to see how much their heart rates rose on average during each movie compared to their resting heart rates. In the end, Scott Derrickson’s 2012 horror hit “Sinister” emerged as the scariest movie with an average difference of 32 BPM.
Although “Sinister” took home the crown, fear is subjective and many people would disagree with this consensus. Many may find this conclusion baffling (maybe you do too), but I have a theory as to why “Sinister” is so heart racing: it’s all in the music.
In film, music and sound is just as important as the visuals or acting. It’s so important that there are whole teams behind the sound design or composition of movie tracks. In “Sinister,” this was no different. The soundtrack, composed by Christopher Young, is so perfectly unnerving, tense, and dare I say it, the most memorable aspect of the movie.
In the film, true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) moves in to a home where a gruesome family murder took place. He then discovers a series of Super 8 snuff films in the attic that may be tied to the string of family murders that he is investigating. It is when Hawke’s character watches these home movies that the soundtrack of the movie is truly able to shine. Paired with the grainy and faded imagery of the Super 8 films, Young’s tense composition makes these sequences feel even more creepy and disturbing, as if we are looking into something that we shouldn’t see, something far more “sinister” than we might think.