Many films lay claim to being the scariest movie, but only one can truly hold the objective and indisputable distinction of being the scariest movie in all of cinema. In order to determine what this movie might be, we first have to determine what characteristics the scariest movie would have. It just so happens we have a list of them right here:
A Mastery of Craft The scariest movie isn't going to be some hastily thrown together snuff film. It can seem rough and raw, of course, but there has to be a real sense of craftsmanship behind it. Otherwise, it won't be scary—it will be lucky to be merely unpleasant. This means stuff like "Saw" is out, unfortunately for Jigsaw.
A Sense of Realism In order for a movie to be scary, let alone be the scariest movie, it has to seem like it could really happening on some level, even if the events in the plot are ridiculous. Take a movie like "Night of the Living Dead," for instance. However unlikely it is that the human race will be overrun by flesh-craving undead zombies, it seems real within the context of viewing the movie.
A Lack of Artifice This be a controversial point, what with blatantly artificial movies like "Suspiria" or "Black Swan" having their supporters naming them the scariest movie of all. But the fact remains that these kinds of movies aren't usually quite as shocking a movies that seem a little more "raw," like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or the aforementioned "Night of the Living Dead."
Must Stick in Your Head Any good scary movie will have you thinking about it for days after, so this especially holds true for the scariest movie. This eliminates slick thrillers and slashers like "Halloween" or "A Nightmare on Elm Street." No matter how scary they are while you watch them, they lack a certain under-your-skin quality that more psychological horror movies like "Se7en" and "The Silence of the Lambs" have in spades.
So, utilizing these four crucial ingredients for the scariest movie, it's easy to see who the winner is none other than Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." It loosely adapts a real incident (the same one that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho") and turns it into two hours of non-stop terror that never for a moment seems like any other horror movie before or since.