Top 10 Scariest Movie Ever: We compiled a list of 40 of the scariest movies ever made based on existing lists and suggestions from the RT crew and asked you to vote for the one that terrified you the most.
A British broadband service comparison website, it so happens, decided to conduct a science experiment to find out the same thing, and the results were… surprising, to say the least.
Did readers of crossover99 agree with the findings? Continue reading to learn which horror films our audience deemed to be the ten scariest of all time.
1. THE EXORCIST (1973)
You may or may not agree that The Exorcist is the scariest film ever made, but it’s surely no surprise that it’s at the top of our list, with a staggering 19% of all votes cast.
The adaptation of William Friedkin’s eponymous novel about a demon-possessed child and the attempts to exorcise said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror picture of all time and the first to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Apart from its critical and commercial success, the picture is well-known for the enormous frenzy it sparked across the country, from protests over its contentious subject matter to audience complaints of nausea and fainting.
2. HEREDITARY (2018)
Ari Aster’s feature directorial debut, a dark family drama on the nature of loss couched within a supernatural horror thriller, created a big splash.
Toni Collette’s slowly-ratcheted-up-to-11 performance as befuddled mother Annie earned her a place in the pantheon of epic Oscar snubs, but the film’s biggest shock came courtesy of… We won’t give anything away here.
To say the least, Hereditary struck such a chord with viewers that it immediately elevated Aster to second place on our list as a director to watch.
3. THE CONJURING (2013)
With films like Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious, and this inspired-by-true-events chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, James Wan has cemented his place among the current masters of horror.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga represented the Warrens, who are best known for their work on the bizarre case that spawned the Amityville Horror movies (which played a part in The Conjuring 2), and who grounded the effective jump scare and freak-out moments with a believable world-weariness.
Wan and his co-stars found new dread in traditional genre cliches, resulting in a complex cinematic universe that is only getting bigger.
4. THE SHINING (1980)
Hundreds of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of them, including Carrie, Misery, and Pet Sematary, are now considered masterpieces.
But Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining is unquestionably the best of them all. The Shining is a masterpiece of set and production design as well as a very unsettling take on the typical haunted house theme, with a slew of memorable images and an iconic Jack Nicholson performance.
5. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
The first is Tobe Hooper‘s low-budget slasher, which is largely based on the crimes of Ed Gein and directed and co-written by him.
The gritty atmosphere of Texas Chainsaw helped lend it an aura of reality, making it all the more terrifying, while Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface paved the way for other brutes such as Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.
Several attempts have been made to resurrect the franchise — and another is on the way — but none have come close to matching the original in terms of raw, over-the-top, power tool-inspired fear.
6. THE RING (2002)
It’s always a challenge to take something that works well in one culture and try to translate it well into another, but Gore Verbinski did it with The Ring.
Verbinski’s adaptation of Japanese filmmaker Hideo Nakata’s famous horror about a cursed VHS preserved the original film’s remarkable visual picture — the ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair hiding her face — and found that it terrified audiences worldwide.
While it wasn’t as well-received as its predecessor, it boasts a committed performance from a then-unknown Naomi Watts, and it served as a gateway to East Asian horror cinema for many.
7. HALLOWEEN (1978)
The film that made all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis famous and placed John Carpenter on the map comes in at number seven on our list.
Halloween is often recognized as one of the early examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it lacks the realistic gore that we’ve come to expect from films in that genre, it nevertheless manages to pack a lot of tension and some imaginative thrills into a pretty tiny package.
The film’s legacy is likewise untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask has become legendary, and the enormous, unstoppable killer and the “final girl” have become part of horror lore. There’s a reason the franchise has survived for over 40 years.
8. SINISTER (2012)
For those who didn’t read the “scientific study” stated before, we’ve finally arrived at the picture that was named the scariest in it.
Director Scott Derrickson had a few horror films under his belt before joining the MCU with 2016’s Doctor Strange, a handful of which garnered cult followings.
One of these was a small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was killed, only to discover the new residence already had an evil occupant.
9. INSIDIOUS (2010)
Although James Wan and Patrick Wilson collaborated on The Conjuring, they also collaborated on this spooky thriller about a young child who slips into a coma and begins to channel a demonic spirit.
The plot itself wasn’t particularly innovative, but regular Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell instilled it with captivating mythology that produced three more chapters.
Wan also remarked that Insidious was intended to be a counterpoint to Saw’s unabashed violence, which forced him to create something on a deeper spiritual level, and the end result is an excellent chiller with one of the best jumps scares ever seen on film.
10. IT (2017)
Clown phobia is a very real dread, even if announcing it has become so prevalent that it feels insincere.
If you need any more proof, consider the box office success of IT, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which broke The Exorcist’s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film of all time.
With a fair dosage of jump scares, a few stunning set pieces, and some top-notch CGI, you’ve got a horror flick that’s both entertaining and terrifying.