Scary Movies

August 6, 2004 ( - OK, it doesn't have a THING to do with being a plan sponsor. But British scientists have apparently worked out a formula that purports to measure how scary a movie is.

The model focuses on three major areas: suspense, realism and gore, according to the BBC.

According to their formula, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is the perfect scary film, based on factors that include the use of escalating music, the balance between true life and fantasy, and how much blood and guts are involved.  

The formula is (es+u+cs+t) squared +s+ (tl+f)/2 + (a+dr+fs)/n + sin x – 1…where

es = escalating music

u = the unknown

cs = chase scenes

t = sense of being trapped

s = shock

tl = true life

f = fantasy

a = character is alone

dr = in the dark

fs = film setting

n = number of people

sin = blood and guts

1 = stereotypes  

The formula prizes realism, situations where the protagonists are isolated/alone, and where there are a relatively small number of characters involved (audiences purportedly relate better to smaller groups of people).   Factors that diminish a film’s standing in the formula include too much gore (“Jaws” was seen as having the perfect amount), or unrealistic situations.