With Halloween lurking, we take a look at the massive Star Wars film franchise to see which movie stands out as the scariest of them all.
Depending on who you ask, you might hear that Star Wars is a series of science fiction films, or fantasy movies, or even simple action-adventure fare. All of these genre descriptions have elements of truth to them, but we can’t forget just how scary some of the films have been.
Whether it’s the needle-wielding droid interrogating Princess Leia in A New Hope or Rey coming face-to-face with a different version of herself in The Rise of Skywalker, there’s no shortage of terror in the Star Wars universe. Some scenes stand out, but which movie is the scariest as a whole?
When looking at all eleven feature films (three trilogies, Solo, and Rogue One), what single movie is scarier than the rest? At first, the most likely candidates seemed like Rogue One and Empire Strikes Back.
Empire Strikes Back, argued by many to be the quintessential Star Wars film and the greatest installment the franchise has ever produced, certainly has some scenes that put it in the running. From Luke being captured by the wampa to the intense arrival on Dagobah in search of Master Yoda, there are some unnerving moments to be sure.
Meanwhile, Rogue One isn’t in any of the three core trilogies, but the movie plays more like a classic war film and provides some of the series’ most gripping scenes. While both of these movies felt like contenders, there’s only one true choice.
Revenge of the Sith is the scariest Star Wars film of all
The scariest film in the Star Wars franchise is Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The climax of the prequel trilogy is also seen by many as the best the prequels ever became, but it’s often dampened by simply existing in the same trio as often criticized prequels The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.
While other movies in the franchise provide scary moments, none encapsulate the sheer internal and external terror that Revenge of the Sith is able to produce throughout the entire film. Right from the jump, we have Anakin Skywalker facing his deepest vengeful impulses and straight-up beheading Count Dooku at the instruction of Palpatine, whom we later learn to be Darth Sidious.
When Anakin later reunites with Padmé, he learns she’s pregnant and thus begins the biggest internal struggle he faces. Anakin begins having gripping and terrifying nightmares about her dying in childbirth, causing him to panic and reach out for any power that could prevent this from happening.
These early moments are part of what makes Revenge of the Sith so scary, as Anakin Skywalker is reacting to very understandable difficulties. While he doesn’t make the right choices, he’s battling with vengeance and fear in a way even a casual viewer can understand.
Anakin seems to briefly break free and make the right choice by revealing Palpatine’s true identity to Mace Windu, only for Skywalker to ultimately interfere in Windu’s attempt to take down Palpatine. The battle fully corrupts Skywalker, but we also see the terror of force lightning being reflected back onto Palpatine that leaves him “scarred and deformed.”
Revenge of the Sith shows some of Star Wars’ darkest moments
From there, things only seem to go downhill and the film gets darker and darker. Palpatine executes Order 66, causing clone troopers all over the universe to mercilessly turn on the Jedi and gun them down in cold blood. Anakin Skywalker, now dubbed Darth Vader and officially taking on the mantle as the franchise’s core villain, goes to the Jedi Temple and violently murders every Jedi in sight, even the children.
All hope doesn’t seem lost as Master Yoda comes up against Darth Sidious, but even the great Yoda can’t succeed and ends up fleeing the planet. Padmé ends up dying in childbirth, exactly as Anakin had feared.
Anakin Skywalker himself ends up in what seems to be a battle to the death with his longtime friend, mentor, and father figure Obi-Wan that leaves him severely burned and barely alive. Finally, as the terror of it all comes to a close, we see Darth Vader finally as we are used to witnessing him and his sheer anger and emotion begin to tear apart everything around him as Sidious lies to him by saying Vader killed Padmé in anger.
Revenge of the Sith may have come at a moment in the series that it seemed to only be filling the gaps between the other prequels and A New Hope, but it also provides some of the most terror-inducing and bleakest moments of the entire franchise. Revenge of the Sith shows us not only the terror of what others can do, but the true horror that lies within us should we make the wrong decisions.
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