Ten Must See Horror Movies From the 2000s and 2010s
Written By: Angela DiLella
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Today, we’re presenting some must-watch horror movies from the most recent decades for your viewing pleasure. As with our previous lists, we tried to create a list of both modern classics and more obscure titles to help old and new horror fans explore the genre a little more. We have organized this list in order of release year, so you can get an idea of how the genre evolved over the years, rather than our own personal preferences. If a lengthier review of a certain movie is on Grave Reviews elsewhere, we will link it in its respective section. Here are our Ten Must See Horror Movies From the 2000s and 2010s.
The Others (2001)
At the turn of the twentieth century, there was a house in seclusion inhabited by a somewhat off-kilter mother (Nicole Kidman) and her two isolated children who suffer from photosensitivity. The house itself has its own problems, what with things like doors closing on their own or unfamiliar voices and faces standing in for those of the residents. This is one of those movies where the twist provides a wonderful aha moment and completely fills the story out.
This movie is surprisingly polarizing; people seem to either find the film refreshing and unique or overdone. Regardless, people with strong opinions about this movie seem to be in the minority either way and the movie does deserve more attention than what it gets. Check it out for yourself and decide if it ought to be remembered or interred!
Session 9 (2001)
A small asbestos company is charged with clearing out a long-abandoned mental hospital. Like most asylums, it’s creepy as hell even if it isn’t really haunted, and because it was abandoned in haste, it’s still full of things like unemptied crematories and tapes of sessions with patients, which the asbestos crew listens to over the course of their job. The asylum and its contents affect the men in different ways, and there are a few unexpected but successful twists that throw the viewer.
Adding to this film’s creepiness is the fact that it was actually shot in the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts. Of course, Session 9 was shot long after Danvers’ years of operation, and supposedly some of the actual demolition work is in the film in the guise of the asbestos-clearing work.
28 Days Later (2002)
Main character Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma in an abandoned hospital. Wandering out onto the streets of London, he finds that the whole city appears to have been abandoned—or so he thinks. After being rescued from attackers, he learns that 28 days ago, a viral outbreak has turned most of the populace into rage-fueled zombies.
28 Days Later gave movie zombies a new lease on life, so to speak, and updated the subgenre for a new century successfully. This movie shows the best and worst of mankind: parents trying to help their children and friends supporting each other for survival, with corrupted soldiers representing the other end of the spectrum.
28 Days Later led to a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, a few years later, and it was rumored that there would even be a third movie titled 28 Months Later at some point. Both of the movies that do exist may feel pertinent in some way to the current, ongoing pandemic, so we don’t blame you if you would rather wait to test these movies out.
Open Water (2003)
Tropical vacations are great, until your group ditches you. The majority of this movie follows a couple stranded in the ocean after they stay underwater too long while on a diving boat tour. The people who run the diving tours don’t figure out what’s wrong until it’s far too late, and the couple struggles to hold onto hope and their lives as they drift further and further out to sea.
Open Water takes the horror behind Jaws and takes it one step further. There is no longer a boat or even part of a boat between our protagonists and the mostly unseen predators of the deep, and it lets your imagination work overtime. The final scene in this movie is chilling.
If you had a Myspace account during the site’s heyday, you probably remember Slither’s aggressive ad campaign that had the slug-like titular creatures crawling across users’ profile pages.
In Slither, meteorite unleashes unusual parasites into one of the locals (Michael Rooker), transforming him into a hybrid whose main goal is to infect others. This movie balances gross-out horror and comedy very well. It plays out like a somewhat more tame take on Shivers with some memorable scenes that will haunt you long after you watch the film.
Although there was a post-credits scene meant to tease a sequel, Slither flopped at the box office and it was never even considered. Despite its initial failure it has, like so many other movies that have a place in this series, become a much-loved cult classic. Like so many of those other cult classics, it wholeheartedly deserves its loyal fanbase and a spot on the Ten Must See Horror Movies From the 2000s and 2010s.
Cloverfield brought the found footage subgenre back (along with Paranormal Activity) after a lull of a few years. In this film, a mysterious monster known only as “Clover” and its parasites terrorize Manhattan. Hud (T.J. Miller) has a camera on hand to record his friend’s going-away party and ends up recording the death and destruction the monsters wreak.
This is another film that had an aggressive ad campaign over Myspace, leading intrigued people all over the internet to try and find clues about the monster and what happened across fake Myspace profiles made for each of the main characters and other dummy websites. Many of these pages still exist or can be found on Internet archive sites, though changes to website formats have made much of this information completely inaccessible.
JJ Abrams has said that the idea for Clover sparked when he was looking at Godzilla merchandise and realized that the US didn’t have their own equivalent to the Tokyo-stomping monster. It doesn’t seem as if that idea is still guiding him in his sequels to Cloverfield, but who really knows?
It Follows (2014)
You all remember health class: always use protection to avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs! And by STDs, your teachers may have meant “sexually transmitted demons.” Jay’s (Maika Monroe) boyfriend passes a demon onto her, which takes the form of slowly stalking humans. Here’s the thing: although the demon moves slowly, it never stops. You can drive across the state, you can take a boat far away, it will keep on walking… and walking… and walking. Eventually it will get you. You can pass the demon along, but if the demon manages to kill whoever it is passed onto, it goes backwards down the line, back to you. This is a slow-burn story that works as it sows paranoia in viewers expertly.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
10 Cloverfield Lane left viewers just about as mixed as Cloverfield (2008), the first in this series. Rather than focus or touch on the monster from Cloverfield, Clover and its parasites, this movie tells an adjacent story about a young woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who left her fiancé only to be taken out in a car accident. Rather than waking up in a hospital, however, she wakes up in a doomsday bunker. She is trapped with Howard (John Goodman), the man who built the bunker and is convinced aliens have finally landed, and a man around her age (John Gallagher Jr.) who helped Howard build his bunker. Twists in the plot suggest that, as odd as Howard is, he might not be as crazy as he sounds, though he may be “off” in a way Michelle and her companion could not have predicted.
Goodman gives a great performance as Howard, one of the creepiest I’ve ever seen in a horror movie where the villain is, essentially, just a regular guy. Granted, some of this could come from the fact that Goodman spent a lot of time playing a big, friendly “dad” character in sitcoms and movies through the eighties to the mid-2000s, and that’s how I tend to think of him.
The big twist at the very end of 10 Cloverfield Lane also cost it a lot of fans, but regardless of how you end up feeling about it, the portion of the story in the shelter is a solid, tense film.
This Cloverfield-universe (multiverse?) film was succeeded by The Cloverfield Paradox in 2018, but like the connection between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, the connections are more tenuous than not.
A deaf and mute author, Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) lives virtually isolated in the middle of the woods. One evening, her friend Sarah (Samantha Sloyan) stops by to return a book and heads back home, thinking nothing of it, as this is a normal routine for them. A masked killer catches and kills Sarah just outside Maddie’s home, which she doesn’t hear. When she sees the man, she writes on her window that she hasn’t seen his face (and therefore can’t ID him). He promptly pulls his mask off. The stakes are immediately set. The game, so to speak, is afoot. It’s invigorating, with an exciting and satisfying climax and conclusion.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
With every Alien sequel, the complaint is always that it’s not enough like the first film. This one got flak, but this time it was because of how it mirrors the original Alien (1979). Space pioneers land on a new planet, seemingly empty, until one of the pioneers is infected by the local flora. The local flora is something like a proto-xenomorph, which have been selectively bred into a more familiar form by a fellow that viewers who have seen Prometheus (2012) will recognize immediately. He’s spent many years in isolation, and the toll on his mind is obvious.
This movie is relentless, and every time you think Ridley Scott has given you a moment to rest, he is merely pausing quickly before hitting you even harder than before. Ridley Scott had a follow-up to Alien: Covenant planned, but it is unclear whether that is moving along right now.
How was that list? Did you see any of your old favorites or catch any new ones from this list that you loved (or were petrified by)? Or do you think we at Grave Reviews needs to step it up a notch? Let us know in the comments below! Do you agree with our Ten Must-Watch Horror Movies From the 2000s and 2010s? What are your favorites?
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