Best Horror Movies from Every Year of This Century

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Image Credit: Dylean on Deviant Art.

It’s easy to fall into the idea that the greatest horror flicks have already been made, and everything else is just a tired reboot. However, this century has produced some truly incredible horror movies so far.

 

What Lies Beneath (2000)


Starring: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

Don’t be fooled—this is not your traditional ghost story in the least.

Haunted by a strange vision, Claire becomes increasingly suspicious of the man she married. Eventually, the specter makes her wonder: is this guy too good to be true?

 

Session 9 (2001)


Starring: Peter Mullan, David Caruso
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Apple TV, Fandango, Netflix

While Session 9‘s insane asylum backdrop might seem tired or overdone, the director manages to keep you on the edge of your seat through effective shot composition, as well as total commitment to the atmosphere.

Admittedly, the dialogue is a little hokey, but the actors pull it off.

 

 

28 Days Later (2002)


Starring: Cillian Murphy
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

This movie made waves for its innovative take on the classic zombie horror genre.

Instead of dealing with the undead, Jim must escape from living humans.  They’ve been infected with the Rage virus, which then makes them behave like cannibalistic monsters.

The main problem? These people can run. Fast.

 

Haute Tension (2003)


Starring: Cécile de France, Maïwenn
Language: French
Rating: NC-17 or R
Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Available on: Tubi, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Apple TV

This film’s rating depends on whether you are watching the original French version with subtitles, or the Lionsgate edit, which was English-dubbed.

Many people have praised the original film for its exciting plot twist, as well as its rejuvenation of the serial killer/home invader subgenre.

The dubbed version, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)


Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, HBONow, HBOMax, Apple TV

This movie, starring Simon Pegg, falls into the elusive horror/comedy genre.

It follows Shaun, a childish man living in London who’s a general disappointment to his girlfriend, mother, and even himself.

Shaun finally gets his chance to prove his mettle when zombies begin to invade, and he must defend the people he loves.

 

The Descent (2005)


Starring: Shauna Macdonald
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

This movie definitely passes the Bechdel Test with its entirely female cast.

They get together to go spelunking, or cave diving. Things take a turn for the strange when they find evidence that the caves aren’t as new as they thought.

 

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)


Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López
Language: Spanish
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Netflix, Vudu, Apple TV

Guillermo del Toro directed this amazingly fantastical film, set in Spain in 1944.

It manages to strike just the right note between the worlds of horror and imagination, as a little girl’s nightmares and dreams become reality.

 

Paranormal Activity (2007)


Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu

Although not the original found footage movie, this film certainly succeeded where The Blair Witch Project failed.

By using unknown actors and a small budget, this movie’s creators marketed it as a real haunting.

This single film soon sparked an entire franchise and subgenre.

 

Cloverfield (2008)


Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

While some might argue that this is more of a science-fiction film, its elements land it firmly in horror territory.

If you can stomach the shaky hand-held camera movements, this movie delivers intriguing plotlines and perfectly-timed jumpscares most horror fans crave.

 

Triangle (2009)


Starring: Melissa George, Liam Hemsworth
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

After getting stranded through miserable weather on a yacht, Jess climbs aboard a sturdier ship, seemingly abandoned in the water, to await help.

Instead, she finds herself in conflict with an unknown assailant. She and the crewmates then face an increasingly bizarre fate as this mind-bender unfolds.

 

Insidious (2010)


Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Vudu, Fandango, Apple TV

After discovering their son’s strange nightly wanderings, a couple soon suspects their new house has something to do with it.

Events escalate satisfyingly fast, as the family’s odd misfortunes evolve into outright supernatural malevolence.

 

You’re Next (2011)


Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Peacock, Fandango, Vudu, Apple TV

During a reunion amongst estranged family members, a serial killer with a crossbow comes and ruins the whole thing.

The cast is slightly larger than usual for home invasion plots, which effectively translates to way more cat-and-mouse.

This slasher also features some pretty cool fight sequences.  In fact, it’s worth a watch for those scenes alone.

 

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)


Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Available on: Amazon Prime, Fandango, Hulu, Vudu, Apple TV

Joss Whedon hit it out of the park with this film. Its beginning is the archetypal journey: a group of young adults head out to the eponymous cabin in the woods.  After that setup, though, this movie breaks all expectations.

It’s a bit like the junk drawer of horror films: it has everything, yet still keeps you guessing the entire time.

 

The Conjuring (2013)


Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Available on: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, HBOMax, Apple TV

Demonstrating that an old movie genre can learn new tricks, this movie takes the idea of a haunted old farmhouse and breathes new life into it.

The Conjuring brings back the creepiness and true dread that a ghost story ought to evoke.

 

The Babadook (2014)


Starring: Essie Davis
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Available on: Vudu, Amazon Prime

A troubled mother learns that her son’s strange visions of a monster, straight out of a macabre children’s book, are now coming true.

The Babadook, a pale human-like creature in a suit and top hat, grows stronger the more you deny its existence.

Of course, the more you believe it exists, the scarier the Babadook is.

More psychological horror than a true monster film, The Babadook gets viewers right into Amelia’s head. You’ll feel her terror as she questions her sanity, and begin to wonder how much is the Babadook, how much is in Amelia’s mind…and if that, after all, is the real terror.

 

The Witch (2015)


Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Available on: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

In Puritanical New England, a daughter watches in horror as her family is torn apart before her eyes.

Afterwards, she is blamed for their deaths, on the grounds of witchcraft and consorting with Satan.

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)


Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Available on: Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

What seems like a typical autopsy of an unknown woman soon gets out of hand, when strange events begin happening in the morgue.

The biological findings only grow odder and odder from there.

 

Get Out (2017)


Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Catherine Keener
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Available on: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Jordan Peele made history with this one: the horror is specifically shaped around Black Americans’ experiences.

Chris is already nervous about meeting his white girlfriend’s family, but their unsettling racial comments certainly don’t help.  What’s more, the black people Chris meets during his visit behave very strangely.

Regardless of the audience’s race, there is no part of this movie where you feel anything other than mounting dread and despair.

 

Hereditary (2018)


Starring: Toni Collette, Ann Dowd
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Available on: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Although sinister in the extreme, this movie does have a strange, haunting feel that pulls the audience in immediately. What’s more, it doesn’t let go until the credits start rolling.

Following the death of their grandmother, a family begins to learn of their strange and complicated ancestry.

While the ending’s content is bizarre, the film’s atmosphere is fantastic.

 

Midsommar (2019)


Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Available on: Fandango, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

During an anthropological trip to observe Swedish pagan midsummer customs, the protagonists realize the tiny village they’ve chosen is far stranger than it seems.

If cult movies are your jam, then check out Midsommar immediately. The soothing, bright colors and sunny backdrop only heighten the tension, once things get going.

 

Rent-A-Pal (2020)


Starring: Wil Wheaton
Language: English
Rating: R
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Available on: Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV

Not many movies came out in 2020, of course.  Wil Wheaton, however, carries this one by sheer force of acting chops and will.

He stars as a “friend” for incredibly lonely people, via a VHS tape available to rent…but the cost these people must pay is far higher than expected.

 

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Whether it’s nostalgia, disdain for computer graphics over practical effects, or good old-fashioned stubbornness, there will always be skeptics who insist horror’s heyday is firmly in the past.

In this young century, though, horror movies have continued to thrive.  Many utilize new technologies, as well as elements of classic and beloved predecessors, to raise the bar even higher.

For more horror recommendations, check out the scariest movies or TV shows now streaming on major platforms, or these terrifying video games.