Since the turn of the century, horror films have made a considerable comeback when compared with the landscape of horror films in the ’90s. Candyman, Scream, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and Dead Alive represent some of the more beloved titles of the 1990s.
Since that decade, horror movie output has increased tenfold as newcomers have hit the horror scene, some more divisive than others.
Rob Zombie made his horror film debut in 2003 with House of 1000 Corpses, which horror fans generally received positively. He went on to make The Devils Rejects, slightly more divisive, but then truly drew a line in the sand with his remake of the John Carpenter classic, Halloween.
Eli Roth arrived around the same time with Cabin Fever, which garnered mixed reviews from horror fans and critics alike. His followups, Hostel and Hostel: Part II, both faired slightly better but still have a lot of proponents and detractors.
Titles like Trick ‘R Treat, It Follows, and The Mist, on the other hand, were almost universally praised by horror audiences. Films like Turistas, I Know Who Killed Me, Dracula 3000, and Uwe Boll’s film debut, House of the Dead, on the other hand, landed upon near-universal dislike among horror audiences. Not to mention the barrage of horror remakes since 2000.
So which films are the ones most worth seeing out of such a cluttered horror landscape? Let’s take a look.
10. Tie: Cabin Fever/Hostel
Whether you love or hate Eli Roth’s brand of horror, his first and second films offer a throwback to old school horror films as well as clever new twists on the genre. Cabin Fever takes a surrealist approach with the infamous “pancakes” scene, as well as with the inclusion of a curiously party-heavy Deputy Winston. Hostel trades absurdism for a beautiful visual style where bright neon colors in the first act are slowly drained from the film’s aesthetic, resulting in a dingy, uncomfortable final act.
9. Green Room
Few things this century have been as intruiguing as a hyper-violent punk rock horror film with Patrick Stewart stepping into the role of a neo-Nazi leader. Suspenseful and shocking to say the least.
8. The Witch
Perhaps divisive with general audiences, critics and horror fans loved this atmospheric, mood-driven horror piece which trades jump scares for a haunting feel, sticking with viewers for days.
7. Trick ‘r Treat
Horror fans are notoriously disagreeable, but has a movie ever brought the horror-loving masses together so seamlessly as Trick ‘r Treat? Not in recent memory.
6. The Mist
Frank Darabont took a hard left turn with the book-departing ending in The Mist. It paid off well. While it was a bit divisive, it also made The Mist one of the most memorable films of last decade.
5. Berberian Sound Studio
Berberian Sound Studio comes off like the lovechild of David Lynch and Dario Argento. It’s weird, surreal, terrifying, and you absolutely can’t stop watching it.
4. Wolf Creek
Perhaps one of the most iconic horror villains (anti-heroes?) of this century, Mick Taylor brings Crocodile Dundee’s demeanor to a Freddy Krueger-esque slasher.
3. The Devil’s Rejects
While Mick Taylor may be one of the most iconic horror villains of the century, the title pretty well officially goes to Captain Spaulding. Played by Sid Haig, Captain Spaulding is a face becoming synonymous with the horror genre. The Devil’s Rejects elevated Rob Zombie’s characters from fun throwbacks to horror’s golden era, to present day horror icons.
2. It Follows
It Follows was loved by critics and horror audiences alike. It garnered a critical score of 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While general audiences left confused, horror fans left theaters with an optimistic outlook on the future of art house horror. They also left with one of the single greatest horror movie scores in history stuck in their heads. Thanks, Disasterpiece.
In terms of pure terror, no movie has scared audiences more this century than Hereditary. No movie has scared audiences more in any century, for that matter.