The Scariest Horror Films Your Heart Can Take

Woman watching a horror movie at home


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Woman watching a horror movie at home

Heart Racing Horrors

It's that time of year — Halloween is approaching and we're all willing to scare the living you-know-what out of ourselves with horror flicks. Looking for the most terrifying stream for your buck? The experts at GIGACalculator asked 150 people to watch 10 classic scary films for the first time while wearing a heart rate tracker. By monitoring pulse and heart rates per minute against an average, they ranked each movie's fright factor from least to most. Read on if you dare, and watch if you dare even more.

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The Exorcist (1973)

10. The Exorcist (1973)

Average heart rate: 96
Coming in as least scary on the ranking is a classic in the world of horror movies. "The Exorcist" (which is based on a true story) shows a 12-year-old girl possessed by a mysterious, evil entity. Scenes of the young girl levitating and her head spinning has left generations shaken, though it seems as though new viewers have found more nightmare-inducing experiences.

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The Conjuring 2 (2013)

9. The Conjuring 2 (2013)

Average heart rate: 97
Two investigators of the paranormal — based on the true-life Ed and Lorraine Warren, whose work began the whole "Amityville" legend — try to help a family being terrorized by a dark presence in their dilapidated London home. It's based on more reports of an actual, 18-month ordeal of haunting and possession known as "The Enfield Poltergeist," in which the ghost of a man who died in the house years earlier spoke through a 12-year-old girl.

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 It (2017)

8. It (2017)

Average heart rate: 99
In the small town of Derry, Maine, kids are disappearing. The culprit is the shape-shifting monster Pennywise, which disguises itself as a clown. A group of seven kids, each of whom have experienced horrifying and strange encounters with this evil being, band together to destroy it in this relatively recent Stephen King adaptation.

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Us (2019)

7. Us (2019)

Average heart rate: 100
Having a doppelgänger can be disconcerting, particularly when it breaks into your vacation home and terrorizes you and your family. This was Jordan Peele's scissors-wielding follow-up to the Oscar-winning "Get Out" (2017).

The Descent (2005)

6. The Descent (2005)

Average heart rate: 103
To be avoided by people with cave phobias. "The Descent" follows a group of women spelunking into a crevice that's home to creepy, humanoid — and bloodthirsty — creatures. There's even more horror to be had from discovering that you can't always rely on friends when it's most important.

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A Quiet Place (2018)

5. A Quiet Place (2018)

Average heart rate: 106
Starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as parents in a post-apocalyptic world working to keep their children safe from creatures that hunt every sound they can hear. The family spends its days hiding in silence — one noise, and everything can come to a horrifying end. As anyone with children knows well, trying to maintain complete silence with kids in tow is nearly impossible.

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Insidious (2010)

4. Insidious (2010)

Average heart rate: 108
Another movie based on the paranormal, "Insidious" involves a boy who falls into a coma after a mysterious incident in an attic. The family must fight to prevent him from being trapped in a realm inhabited by evil spirits. The director is James Wan, who went on to direct "The Conjuring 2."

The Babadook (2014)

Third-Scariest: The Babadook (2014)

Average heart rate: 110
A psychological thriller from Australian first-time director Jennifer Kent. The Babadook focuses on a single mother and her child, who are overcome by paranoia after the monster from a spooky children's book seems to manifest in their home — raising doubts along the way about whether mom is safe from her kid, or vice versa. The creature created by Kent (who also wrote the screenplay) went on to have a life outside the film, adopted by scare fans like Slender Man and Frankenstein's Monster before it.

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Saw (2004)

Second-Scariest: Saw (2004)

Average heart rate: 113
Strangers awake in a room with zero idea how they got there. Soon they discover they're pawns in a deadly game created by a serial killer — an appealingly creepy setup that made "Saw" just the first in a now iconic horror film franchise. Viewers participating in the heart-monitoring experiment called the graphic scenes harrowing.

Hereditary (2018)

Scariest: Hereditary (2018)

Average heart rate: 115
"Hereditary," about a grieving family haunted by disturbing occurrences, made viewers' pulses rise significantly compared with the average resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. Director Ari Aster, whose follow-up was a similarly scary "Midsommar," didn't fill this drama with a ton of explicitly scary moments, but watchers said the overall sinister theme and dark atmosphere made the entire experience hair-raising.

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