The 19 Best Horror Movies of the 2000s
The decade of the '00s birthed a lot of epic horror movies — many of which were the most brutally gory movies we've ever seen. A lot changed from the scream-fests of the '80s to the slashers of the '90s. Movies weren't worth seeing in the '00s if they didn't turn your stomach a little or make you flinch a lot. Here are the best horror movies that made us jump, gag, and snicker — all released between 2000 and 2009.
American Psycho (2000)
Set in the late 1980s, this movie is what The Wolf of Wall Street would be if Jordan Belfort had been a homicidal maniac. Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, the American psycho in question. Patrick is a handsome, slick finance professional who moonlights as a gruesome serial killer. Among his other attributes (besides the killing and the OCD) are his incredible closet and his obvious attention to detail. Remember that's he's literal psycho during all your swooning.
Battle Royale (2000)
This Japanese thriller was sending adolescents to fight to the death long before we were hoping the odds were in ever in your favor. Shuya Nanahara is the young boy grappling with his father's recent death, and who is then forced by the government to participate in the deadly contest. The dystopian film caused a huge controversy in Japan, because the idea of children murdering each other for their own survival was still a taboo topic. (Um, as it should be.)
The Others (2001)
You know when Nicole Kidman does a scary movie, it's gotta be good. Prim, stylish, and reserved, this movie takes place on the misty English coast in post WWII. When Grace (Kidman) moves her kids to the eerie seaside mansion, weird and creepy things start to happen. She wants to blame the servants, but it soon becomes pretty clear that the maid is NOT the problem. Well, not really.
The Ring (2002)
Just. No. I've never even been able to watch this movie from start to finish, and I for REAL can't watch it alone, at night, or during the possibility of loud noises or sudden movements. Based on the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, this movie is about a videotape (that's right, an actual VHS) that will kill you in seven days. Trust me, it's a lot more menacing than it sounds.
28 Days Later (2002)
Yeah, zombies are scary. But FAST zombies are freaking terrifying. The undead in this movie are infected with a virus called "rage," and you can't outrun them. The premise is pretty similar to The Walking Dead: virus breaks out, Armageddon ensues, hero wakes up a month into the mayhem, finds a ragtag group of survivors, goes on the road. What's different and far more alarming is that these zombies won't go down without an actual fight.
Haute Tension, aka High Tension (2003)
French friends Alex and Marie travel to the country to visit Alex's parents in this thriller from France. When the parents meet a gruesome end, the killer turns his attention to the young women, and they have to get serious(ly violent) if they want to make it out alive. The best part of this movie is that it gets brutal real fast, and you just have to grit your teeth and bare with it. The worst part is that it's so short — only 90 minutes.
This movie hits the trifecta of blood, guts, and gore. After its release in 2004, audiences and critics alike sat with their mouths hanging open, disbelieving of what they had just seen. It pushed the boundaries of what we were willing to accept from a slasher movie, but also sort of set the standard for what we expected. The lunatic, Jigsaw, chains two men at opposite ends of a bathroom and forces them to solve puzzles to escape . . . and their families have to watch. Watch Cary Elwes be brutalized, psychologically terrorized, and physically tortured, but know that it's not for the faint of the heart.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zombies never go out of style, and this 2004 remake proves we just can't get enough of the undead. This version of the '70s classic is faithful to the original, and follows a young mother and her group of survivors as they hole up in a Milwaukee shopping mall to protect themselves from the horde.
The Descent (2005)
"Go see caves on your vacation," they said. "It will be fun and interesting," they said. Too bad nobody could predict the murderous cave people that would hunt Sarah and her friends once they got down into the caverns. Maybe it's the pitch-black conditions, maybe it's the elevation, but this seems like the absolute worst-case scenario when it comes to vacations.
This movie is the perfect choice for horror fans if you like gratuitous gore with a little bit of homoerotic subtext. Jay Hernandez plays one of the traveling students who opt to stay in a European hostel, and then get stalked and tortured by a group of super sketchy killers. The takeaway: always spring for a hotel room. Hostel contains the now-infamous eyeball scene that you will never, ever be able to unsee. Watch at your own risk.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Angry mutants + barren wasteland = trouble for stranded travelers. A road trip goes horribly, horribly wrong when the Carter family runs out of gas in an atomic zone in the Southwest desert, and then encounter another sort of family — the kind of family that terrorizes, stalks, and murders outsiders.
The Orphanage (2007)
When you lose your son in your haunted children's hospital that you converted from an old orphanage, naturally you turn to the spirits to help you find him. This Spanish-language horror film is about Laura and her family, and their life in the above mentioned haunted house. Laura's sick, adopted son disappears, but after months go by, Laura is grieving so much that she thinks the ghosts are trying to guide her to her son. But they might not be as helpful as she thinks.
The Mist (2007)
Another Stephen King contribution to the horror movie catalogue, The Mist has one of the most surprising endings in the history of scary movies. A mysterious fog moves into a small Maine town, and the citizens wind up going a little crazy when their neighbors inexplicably start dying after getting caught in the mist. A small group of townies try to escape the mist, but things go so, so wrong. Watch all the way to the end. And then call me so I can offer you my condolences.
This is like a two-for-one horror delight. Grindhouse is the combo of two movies meant to pay homage to the '70s exploitation films. Quentin Tarantino directs the first offering, Deathproof, and Robert Rodriguez directs the second, Planet Terror.Packed full of '00s-era starlets (including Rose McGowan and Rosario Dawson), it combines the slasher and zombie genres to an unusual, experimental end. Oh, and McGowan's character has a prosthetic leg made out of a machine gun.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Security cam movies are part of the scary-film canon, but that hasn't always been the case. Paranormal Activity basically invented this trope, unsettling American moviegoers and making them suspicious of their own security systems. This movie has spawned countless spin-offs and created a vast franchise, and each one banks on the fright that unseeable, sinister forces can create. The bits set in the bedroom are the absolute spookiest parts of this movie.
Funny Games (2007)
This movie really should have been called Stranger Danger. When two very clean-cut, wholesome-looking young men show up at the Farbers' vacation home, the family couldn't have guessed the extreme violence that was about to befall them. The two boys make a game of challenging the family (including Naomi Watts as the mother) to survive until the next day.
Let The Right One In (2008)
This Swedish vampire drama is quiet and poignant, but still spooky as hell. When soft-spoken Oskar befriends the strange neighbor girl, he realizes quickly that she's not like other girls, and probably involved in some grisly crimes in town. It's sweet, but the vampire mythology isn't romanticized or overdone. There was an American remake in 2010 starring Chloë Grace Moretz called Let Me In, but the original has an incredible stillness that will stay will you for a long time.
The Strangers (2008)
If you didn't like to stay home alone before you watched this movie, there's no way in hell you'll ever be able to now. A couple heads to the woods for a quiet getaway (their first mistake), and James (Scott Speedman) winds up accidentally killing his friend while on an errand (the second mistake). Kristen (Liv Tyler) is home alone, but not for long, and then makes the biggest mistake of all when she invites a strange woman into the cabin. And then . . . torture.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
The lesson in Drag Me to Hell is to always, always be nice to everybody. Christine (Alison Lohman) denies a loan to an old woman at the bank where she works, and the woman exacts revenge by putting a curse on her. Christine and her dreamy boyfriend (Justin Long) have a lot of really, really awful stuff happen to them, including a very disturbing vomit scene that will leave you needing a shower.