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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