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The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via A24]


  • Director: Ari Aster
  • Writer: Ari Aster
  • Release: June 8, 2018

Written and directed by Ari Aster, Hereditary actually appeared at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. It ended up getting a ton of critical acclaim, allowing it to hit theaters that very summer. On a budget of just $10 million, the movie brought in $80 million. That was also having to go against major superhero films like Avengers: Infinity War among other hits. Aster went on to make other great movies, but Hereditary was his first major hit. It is a movie that hits you in the heart, then stabs you repeatedly. The movie follows Annie, Steve, Peter, and Charlie Graham in a series of insane events.

Charlie has a nut allergy and eats chocolate with nuts in it, going into anaphylactic shock. Peter is driving them to the hospital when Charlie sticks her head out of the window to get air. But Peter has to swerve where Charlie is decapitated by a telephone pole. His mother Annie resents her son for this, and later on, seems to get some mystical powers of sorts. This results in Steve being burned alive, and Annie beheads herself. All of this involves a mysterious cult, and much more. It is truly too insane for words but it is truly one of the scariest movies you’ll ever see.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via TriStar Pictures]

Evil Dead (reboot)

  • Director: Fede Álvarez
  • Writer(s): Fede Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues
  • Release: April 5, 2013

The Evil Dead was mostly a comic book series but eventually made its way into the film world as an action-horror franchise. In 2013, this became the fourth movie in the series of films but acted as a soft reboot. Diablo Cody of Juno and Jennifer’s Body fame helped revise the script, and Sam Raimi along with Bruce Campbell stepped in as producers. The largely unproven Fede Álvarez, however, both co-wrote and directed it. With so many great names behind him though, people expected a lot.

The marketing for the film was “the most terrifying film you will ever experience.” To be fair, it was one of the scariest movies of its time and far darker than the original Evil Dead films. Fans loved the new direction, allowing it to make $97.5 million on just a $17 million budget. While Fede did have a background in CGI, the movie only employs it for touchups. The rest is makeup and practical effects, which truly helped it all come off more organic. It is a terrific movie, but also truly terrifying.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Lionsgate Films]


  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer(s): James Wan and Leigh Whannell
  • Release: October 29, 2004

The original Saw film actually began as a short film by James Wan. It did so well, he made a full film out of the concept. Of course, this was an independent film not connected to a major studio. Wan decided to have Leigh Whannell mostly write out the screenplay while he directed it. By January 2004, Saw appeared at the Sundance Film Festival where it did terrific among critics. That allowed it to have a fall release. On just a $1.2 million budget, the film made roughly $104 million at the box office!

The movie offers a psychological twist, where it puts people in often impossible choices. For example, a photographer and oncologist are chained up with a corpse in between them holding a revolver and microcassette. Both men find a tape in their pockets that both have different directions. The photographer is told to escape while the doctor is told he must kill the photographer by 6:00 or his wife and daughter will die. This is all designed by the Jigsaw Killer to test his victims and their will to survive. He puts them through “games” in one of the scariest movies you’ll ever see, which might make your brain hurt.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Pathé Distribution]

The Descent

  • Director: Neil Marshall
  • Writer: Neil Marshall
  • Release: July 8, 2005 (UK) and August 4, 2006 (USA)

The Descent is ultimately known as an “adventure horror film,” which does not tend to be very scary. They most involve a lot of jump scares. However, Neil Marshall, the writer and director of the film, wanted to change that. The film surrounds three thrill-seeking friends, Sarah, Juno, and Beth. They are done whitewater rafting one day when Sarah along with her husband Paul and daughter Jessica head out. Paul is suddenly distracted, causing a car accident that kills him and Jessica but not Sarah.

A year later, Sarah catches up with her friends along with a few others to go on a spelunking adventure. Soon, they all descend into a cave in the Appalachian Mountains. However, as they enter a narrow passage the cave collapses behind them. This effectively traps them, so they must navigate an unknown cave system to get out. Yet mysterious monsters called “crawlers” are picking people off. The cool thing about this movie is that it ends completely differently in the UK and U.S. formats, making people want to see both.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Polygon]

Friday The 13th

  • Director: Sean S. Cunningham
  • Writer: Victor Miller
  • Release: May 9, 1980

Can there really be a notable list of the world’s scariest movies that does not include one of the Friday the 13th films? Funny enough, this entire script only came together because studios and obviously other writers saw the success of the Halloween horror film. Thus, by the 1980s, scary movies were pretty common. The plot for the original film was simple enough, but that did not make it any less terrifying for those watching.

The story follows a group of camp counselors that are slowly being murdered one by one by someone. However, this summer camp had been abandoned for quite some time, so their decision to re-open it was bound to lead to tragedy. Of course, while unknown for a short time, we find out our killer is a man named Jason Voorhees. He wears a hockey mask, loves stabbing people with knives, and seems to be immortal. Who could make it out alive when Jason is after them? This original version still holds up, and that is why we believe it is one of the scariest movies ever.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Universal Pictures]

Get Out

  • Director: Jordan Peele
  • Writer: Jordan Peele
  • Release: February 24, 2017

When people claimed the comedian Jordan Peele wrote and directed a horror movie, it was quite surprising to hear. Peele claimed he wanted to make a horror movie that black people could love. While there are some funny parts in Get Out, it uses real racial tension issues to make things terrifying. Which only grows as the story unfolds. The movie centers around a black man and his white girlfriend. The girlfriend claims to love her boyfriend and wants to take him home to meet her family, which seems innocent enough. As they arrive, the boyfriend, Chris, sees a lot of wealthy white people.

While uncomfortable, nothing stands out to him until he sees a missing man up for auction. Realizing his girlfriend, Rose, is in on all of this, he tries to “get out.” Chris is taken out and awakens strapped to a chair in the basement. He is then forced to watch a video where Rose’s grandfather Roman explains that the family transplants their brains into the bodies of others to give them their preferred characteristics. He claims the host’s consciousness is in the Sunken Place, there but powerless. Now, Chris is next and must get out. But has to go through many to do it. Get Out is one of the scariest movies of the 2000s, hands down.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via American International Pictures]

The Last House On The Left

  • Director: Wes Craven
  • Writer: Wes Craven
  • Release: August 30, 1972

You should have known you’d see a Wes Craven film on our list. He is a master of horror, but one could say that The Last House on the Left was his first opportunity to prove this to people. Weirdly, this movie came out on August 30th back in 1972. Yet Craven ended up passing away on August 30, 2015. Talk about a coincidence, right? In this horror exploitation film, Craven pretty much did everything. He wrote, directed, and even edited the film himself. The movie revolves around the kidnapping and torture of Mari Collingwood on her 17th birthday.

This is done by a group of criminals led by Krug Stillo, played by David Hess. Exploitation films can be very difficult to watch, as they tend to show very gruesome acts taking place. Craven truly began this genre in horror, and the film is now considered controversial due to what Sandra Peabody was put through on set. David Hess and Marc Sheffler are method actors, so they actually put Peabody through some intense situations, making her endure some real-life abuse on the set of the film. This only helped to make it one of the scariest movies ever. It is still incredibly hard to watch.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Compass International Pictures]


  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Writer(s): John Carpenter and Debra Hill
  • Release: October 25, 1978

If you want a film synonymous with the horror movie genre, likely the top movie people will think about is Halloween. It was the movie that put Jamie Lee Curtis on the map. Though it was not his first movie, Halloween was the hit John Carpenter needed to truly step out as a writer/director in Hollywood. He even made the soundtrack for the movie! The plot for this movie is rather simplistic, making it easy for young and old to watch and understand.

A mental patient named Michael Myers is said to have been committed into an insane asylum at just 6 years old. Why? He somehow murdered his teenage babysitter on Halloween night. Now, 15 years later, he manages to escape the asylum and decides to stalk a random female babysitter as well as her friends. All of this while being pursued by his psychiatrist and the authorities. Myers and will stop at nothing to kill again. This still ranks as one of the scariest movies of all time!

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures]

IT: Chapter One

  • Director: Andy Muschietti
  • Writer: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman
  • Release: September 8, 2017

While the “IT” franchise had already been in play beforehand, most fans of the franchise will say this reboot is the best one of them all. IT: Chapter One is, of course, based on the 1986 Stephen King novel of the same name. The film actually takes place in October 1988. It follows kids named Bill and Georgie. One day, Bill makes a paper sailboat for Georgia but it sails along the rainy streets of Derry, Maine. Georgie finally catches up to it when he sees a clown in the drain.

This is Pennywise: The Dancing Clown, and he convinces Georgie to come closer only to bite his arm off and drag him into the sewer. More unexplained child disappearances take place, and a group of friends led by Bill wants to investigate. Pennywise knows they are coming but he too is on the hunt. He uses their deepest fears against them, feeding off of them. In order to make it out alive, they have to overcome those fears. Obviously, this all results in one of the scariest movies of our time.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Blumhouse Productions]

Paranormal Activity

  • Director: Oren Peli
  • Writer: Oren Peli
  • Release: September 25, 2009

Similar to Blair Witch, the original Paranormal Activity decided to do some very interesting cinematography moves to help it stand out. Oren Peli wrote, edited, photographed, and directed the film. He even co-produced it with a few others. Truly, Oren’s scent is all over the movie. Originally, the movie was made for $15,000 and operated as an independent film. Then, Paramount Pictures acquired the film as they thought it could be a huge hit, and added a little over $200,000 to its production.

This allowed them to add in key, impressive content in post-production to add to the amazing film. The plot of the movie centers around a young couple who are haunted by some type of supernatural presence in their home. Unsure of what it is, they set up a camera to document what is haunting the place. This allows the film to utilize a lot of “found footage” to show what is actually going on. It is formed in a way that makes us wonder what happens when we’re not around or asleep. Making it one of the scariest movies of our time.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures]

The Shining

  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writer: Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson
  • Release: May 23, 1980

Stephen King is just peppered all over this list, as people loved taking his novels and making them into films. The infamous director and writer Stanley Kubrick decided to make the movie. With such a name behind it, this was going to be a hit. He also had a co-writer for the film, Diane Johnson, who was really making her film debut with The Shining. Adding in Jack Nicholson to star was a stroke of genius, as this movie truly put him on the map. “Here’s Johnny” still rings in our head!

The movie centers around Jack Torrance, who is both a recovering alcoholic and an aspiring writer. He accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel. Located in the Colorado Rockies, it’s a well-known area people enjoyed staying. His wife and son tag along, yet his son happens to be gifted with “the shining.” This gives a person psychic abilities that allow them to see into the hotel’s horrific past. After a major snowstorm, Jack slowly loses his sanity due to the supernatural forces around him. Now, his family has to try to make it out alive.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via New Line Cinema]

A Nightmare On Elm Street

  • Director: Wes Craven
  • Writer: Wes Craven
  • Release: November 9, 1984

Wes Craven seems to be incapable of making a bad horror movie. A Nightmare on Elm Street is historically one of the most notable horror films ever. On top of this, the movie was Johnny Depp’s film debut. Of course, this is the story involving the infamous Freddy Krueger, a serial killer who just wants to kill people without anyone stopping him. The plot of this film revolves around four teenagers living on the same street in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio.

However, one should try to avoid ever sleeping here as these teens found out the hard way. A burnt killer, Krueger, uses a leather glove with some knife-like digits or blades. He invades their dreams to kill them, but by doing this, one will also die in the real world too. Therefore, if you die in your dreams, you die for real. Now, these teens must find a way out of the ordeal yet Freddy isn’t about to let that happen easily. This is still one of the scariest movies that still holds up today.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Universal Pictures]

The Strangers

  • Director: Bryan Bertino
  • Writer: Bryan Bertino
  • Release: May 30, 2008

The Strangers is a small film series from the 2000s/2010s. But there were several other horror movies of the same name, many made outside of America. This is revolving around the 2008 version that follows two people, James and Kristen, who stay at a vacation home. Their world is turned upside-down as three masked criminals break into the home. This movie was actually inspired by real-life events regarding the multiple homicides committed by the Manson Family-Tate Murders.

It also involved many of the neighborhood break-ins, one of which happened to Bryan Bertino’s home. Yes, it happened to the director and writer of the film when he was a child! There were also some similarities to the Keddie Cabin Murders from 1981, even though Bertino did not use this as a reference. The movie is often known for its use of masks or sacks for masks, which makes it more terrifying. The Strangers still ranks as one of the scariest movies in history, especially with the real-life elements involved.

The Scariest Movies Ever Made, According To Science
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema]

The Conjuring

  • Director: James Wan
  • Writer: Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes
  • Release: July 19, 2013

Truly terrifying to a point that some had heart attacks watching it, The Conjuring is one of the few films even jaded horror buffs were freaked out by. While James Wan, maker of the Saw series, directed the movie, it was the Hayes brothers who wrote the thing. Carey and Chad had been writing and/or producing films or television shows for years before this. But somehow, the idea for this film sort of just came to them. Unsurprisingly, their love for horror films led them to this script ultimately.

The plot revolves around Ed and Lorraine Warren, both of which are paranormal investigators and authors. They are known for being involved in very prominent haunting cases. In fact, we’re told they were involved in the real-life reports that inspired the Amityville Horror stories. Eventually, in 1971, they respond to a call for assistance from the Perron Family from Rhode Island. The family is experiencing disturbing issues in their farmhouse and needs the Warrens to help them stop it all.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Paramount Pictures

Universal Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Compass International Pictures

TriStar Pictures

Ghost House Pictures

New Line Cinema

Lionsgate Films

Blumhouse Productions

CPL Productions

Sundance Film Festival



Hollywood Reporter