Greatest 21st century horror films

By Jacob Pierce |@JacobPierce1_DE |Daily Egyptian

The last 15 years have been good for horror.  There have been terrible films — the entire Paranormal Activity series — but there have also been legendary ones.

This century has been full of indie masterpieces and unexpected classics, with films that terrify the viewer by using psychological horror rather than jump scares. Here are the top 10 horror flicks of the century:

10. “Saw” (2004)


It has become commonplace among movie fans to make fun of the original “Saw.” It led to a series of sequels that are bad, and this film suffers at points from bad acting and rookie directing.

But, it also revolutionized the horror industry, pushing a new genre of horror called torture porn, which at its best combines gore and mental terror.

“Saw” helped other indie horror movies break through and have monumental success in mainstream cinema.

It has one of the best horror villains and one of the best twists.

9. “You’re Next” (2011)

“You’re Next” is the first representation on this list of horror meshing with another genre, which has served the industry well this century.

This film — without spoiling a great middle-movie twist — brings horror and ’80s action movie together to create a pulse-pounding thrill ride. 

The duo of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett use a synthesized soundtrack, creative action set pieces and great main character work to make this exciting.  

8. “It Follows” (2014)

Great score, strong female characters and frightening psychological thrills come together in “It Follows.”

The best kind of horror films take people’s convictions and make them terrifying.   

In classic horror movie fashion, this film takes sex and makes it the enemy in a way “Friday the 13th”  wishes it could,  playing on the ideas of sanity and safety.

When the main character cannot even feel safe at her own home, it makes the audience feel unsettled and on the edge of their seats.

7. “The Descent” (2005)

Neil Marshall’s 2005 claustrophobic creature flick was overshadowed by the various bad movies to come out around this time.

“The Descent” plays on some of people’s common fears and leaves you unsettled like any good horror movie should. The idea of plunging various strong female characters to the unknowns of a cave and the dangers that come with it are amazing.

Add having them face nocturnal monsters straight from terrible nightmares, and you have the most underrated film on the list.      

6. “The Gift” (2015)

This is both the most recent addition to the list and the directorial debut of Australian actor Joel Edgerton.

“The Gift” treads the line between horror and thriller much like “Silence of the Lambs.” It helps add amazing and unexpected twists and turns.

This all leads to one of the most disturbing twists possible. It makes audience members walk out feeling gross, broken and wondering what really happened. 

5. “The Babadook” (2014)

This foreign film showcases psychological thrills instead of jump scares in the best possible way. It will make people fear children and children’s stories for life.

“The Babadook’s” scares come from uncomfortable topics, something many horror movies are afraid to do.

This movie questions a parent’s instant love for their child and addresses mental illness in a way few films do.

4. “The House of the Devil” (2009)

“The House of the Devil” is an odd movie. In writing, all of the great aspects of this film make it seem like a thriller, but viewers get a homage to ’80s horror. 

The whole movie is a big build up to the final act. It gives you little bits and pieces of terrifying and offsetting images and keeps the tension up until the 30-minute mark.

Once this time hits, the movie goes bananas with gore and becomes a battle for survival. It adds all the tension from before, while also giving the audience amazing action set pieces.

3. “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) 

This may be another odd pick for some, but bear with me.  This movie is a comedy, but mixes horror and everything great that comes with horror into it. “Shaun of the Dead” is one of the best examples of horror combined with other genres.

Director Edgar Wright does not make single-genre films, rather homages that also serve as great iterations of films in said category. 

For all the comedic elements in this film, there are a lot of genuinely great zombie moments. Wright made the perfect mix between admiration and actual original product.

2. “Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

The Joss Whedon written and Drew Goddard directed satire serves as part comedic parody on horror and part original horror film.

“Cabin in the Woods” is a love letter to horror. While it may make fun of several tropes in the genre, it is all good fun. 

The movie is also one that will make you think. By the ending twist, audience members will question their love for the genre, while asking questions about control and government influences.

1. “28 Days Later” (2002)

Number one on the list is the jumpstart to the modern zombie industry, even though most do not consider it a zombie film.

This Danny Boyle film has everything. It has a great score, amazing acting, a terrific script, and enough zombie and infected action to satisfy any gore hound.

“28 Days Later” is a bleak and beautiful movie that will haunt you to the core. It is a classic horror film and an almost perfect masterpiece.