Highly Recommended Horror Movies of the 21st Century

Log in to copy items to your own lists.
The Orphanage (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. (105 mins.)
Director: J.A. Bayona
“ Haunting and heartbreaking, The Orphanage delivers a double whammy of chills both real and supernatural. Set in a crumbling children's home recently reopened by ex-resident Laura, this Spanish haunted house movie begins its assault after Laura's son Simón vanishes on a sunny afternoon. Convinced Simón's stories about imaginary friends in the spooky building prove he's been spirited away by malevolent ghosts, Laura embarks on a quest to retrieve him that will push her to the limit of sanity. ” - ratty1984
Martyrs (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity. (99 mins.)
Director: Pascal Laugier
“ The latest in a series of French films featuring envelope-pushing nastiness, Martyrs is an unforgettable endurance test of a movie that provides a quasi-philosophical spin on the torture porn genre. It starts out in Switchblade Romance territory — a swift and bloody revenge is enacted by a pair of gamine young women. Things rapidly take a turn for the worse — both for one of the girls and for any audience members not equipped with a cast-iron stomach. ” - ratty1984
[Rec] (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying. (78 mins.)
“ As far as modern zombie films go, [REC] is a real surprise, and scary too; a breath of fresh air with two or three moments that will probably cause even the most hardened horror fan to jump out of his or her seat. What really makes the film work is the fact that it is made on such a low budget. Tight and economical, clocking in at 78 minutes long, it succeeds because directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza use the simplest of camera techniques and the most basic of locations to generate a real sense of tension that you just can’t get with millions of dollars and slick special effects. ” - ratty1984
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. (92 mins.)
Director: Takashi Shimizu
“ Yet it is in its non-linear, highly episodic structure that ‘Ju-On’ differs from Ringu. At first the film appears to comprise an arbitrary set of variations on a theme, wherein unconnected characters are seen being undone, one after the other, by a curse that relentlessly pursues all who encounter it. Yet far from being merely a compendium of eerie, if slightly repetitive, supernatural set-pieces, the different scenes in ‘Ju-On’ are gradually seen to be linked, albeit linked in a manner that defies chronology, confounds identity and leaves sanity sobbing in the dark – and it is this deep-seated irrationality which will continue haunting the corridors, closets and attics of your mind long after you have recovered from the peculiar horror of a boy emitting the shrieking meow of a cat. ” - ratty1984
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others' rectums. (92 mins.)
Director: Tom Six
“ Despite being entirely deplorable and revolting, this B-movie horror from Dutch film-maker Tom Six is also … well, sort of brilliant. It scales the heights of yuckiness. It places a flag on a hitherto undreamt-of Everest-peak of offensiveness. Undreamt of by me, anyway. The central idea might get a thoughtful, respectful nod from Dr Hannibal Lecter. Dieter Laser plays Dr Heiter, a retired surgeon and predatory psychopath who has captured three young people – two Americans, one Japanese – and is holding them prisoner in a makeshift operating-theatre-cum-vivisectional-research-unit that he has built in his cellar. He plans to unite the destinies of this luckless trio in ways that I cannot bring myself to describe here. ” - ratty1984
Them (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night. (77 mins.)
“ Without spoiling the plot, the film’s revelation is disturbing on a variety of levels, if ending in the same downbeat manner as the majority of modern slasher pics. The attackers’ motives left unexplained, Them’s endnote is chilling and surprisingly thought provoking, if somewhat separate in tone from the excellent setup.

Short and far from sweet, Them bleeds every drop of atmosphere from the remote location and its dense surroundings. ” - ratty1984
The Ring (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it. (115 mins.)
Director: Gore Verbinski
“ Central to the success of "The Ring" - such as it is - is the tape itself, with its blend of gruesome and eerie images - including an impaled finger, haunted woman, and the titular vision itself.

It's effectively disturbing stuff and the troubling pictures don't stop there. Gore Verbinski creates beautifully-composed pictures of unpleasantness throughout - moments that sneak around the memory for days after viewing. ” - ratty1984
Audition (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all. (115 mins.)
Director: Takashi Miike
“ Here's another one of those films that is difficult to discuss without giving the whole game away, because there's one hell of a twist in Audition. At first, the film appears to be a melancholy love story about one man's search for a woman to take the place of his dead wife. Asami looks perfect for him - troubled, but gentle and thoughtful. Then she won't return his calls and he has to go looking for her.

And that's where events take an unsettling turn into a world of nightmare - but how much of it is real? For the first half, Audition is about how an idealistic view of your perfect partner will lead to inevitable disappointment - the potential spouses have Aoyama's wife to live up to. He expects things to run the course of a romantic comedy, unfortunately for him he ends up in a shocker of a horror movie. ” - ratty1984
The Others (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted. (101 mins.)
“ In the skittery haunted house thriller The Others, Nicole Kidman plays a very frightened woman with two very spooky children in a remote Victorian mansion that looks as if it might contain more rooms than the palace of Versailles. At one point, she does something that I don't think I've ever seen anyone do in a haunted house movie: She grabs the mansion's heavy aristocratic drapes and makes sure that they're closed, eliminating all the light of the world. She wants to lock the darkness in. ” - ratty1984
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
After Carlos - a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War - arrives at an ominous boys' orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover. (106 mins.)
“ The best thing about “The Devil’s Backbone” is that it is a good ghost story. It sets up the situations perfectly that there are scenes that will make you just want to look away from the screen for a second. For instance, there was one scene where Carlos sneaks out to the kitchen to get some water. Almost pitch black and with the air ever so still, Carlos hears his name in the form of a faint whisper coming from an uninviting stairway leading to the basement. You can’t help but think, “Don’t you dare go down there.” ” - ratty1984
High Tension (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror. (91 mins.)
Director: Alexandre Aja
“ The original French title of this grubby, lo-fi horror - Haute Tension (High Tension) - is so accurate it's a wonder anyone decided to change it. For while you spend the first five minutes of Alexandre Aja's film willing the action to start, you're likely to spend the next 80 minutes wishing that the tension would stop long enough for you to draw breath.

A stark and brutal horror movie, this pared down exercise delivers an array of gore not seen since the heyday of the slasher film. Far nastier than mainstream American horror, it's a ferocious French delight. ” - ratty1984
Inside (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby. (82 mins.)
“ French horror has undergone a renaissance in recent years. If there is proof that the J-Horror fad is currently dead, it is the emergence and popularity of French films like Them, High Tension, and this modern classic, Inside. Like many, I’d heard of Inside through online forums and websites. I’d heard how intense and scary it was supposed to be, but went into it with a skeptical eye. After all, how many other “next best thing” type of films have we gone through and been let down by? Plenty. However, I can say without hesitation that Inside belongs on the mantle with the other two great French flicks that I mentioned above, and actually, it may be the best one yet. ” - ratty1984
Eden Lake (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences. (91 mins.)
Director: James Watkins
“ This is one of them films you will either, not particulary like it, but endure it or hate it so bad that the first drop of blood you see you will turn it off. This is a great british film conveying how we see the YOB's of today on the street corners with nothing else to do but terrorise everyone in sight and with the wrong up bringing could your child turn out to be one of these street corner hooligans who cross the line, way over the line.

Two brits decide to have the weekend away at Eden Lake where Jenny's boyfriend plans to have a romantic getaway for just the two of them but are interuppted by the local kids.

As their holiday begins to progressivly evolve into a nightmare the two must run for their lives when the kids begin to spiral out of control and hunt the two down. The film is very uncomfortable all the way through and violent very violent and you will be tempted to turn off. Jack O'connell is amazing as the lunatic group leader, he is very unsettling. The film races towards its end with a shocking climax further exemplifying the influence that parents have over there children and why they turn out to be the way they are. Tense, gritty and sickening in parts, this is a must see movie for some but not for all. ” - ratty1984
Next Door (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
John has just been left by his girlfriend Ingrid. That day he allows himself to be seduced into a mystical and scary world, where it is impossible to separate truth from the lies (75 mins.)
Director: Pål Sletaune
“ Next Door may not be a film about guilt in the normal sense of the word; it may be about something else entirely. Whether John’s feelings are because of guilt about his own actions or disgust of someone else’s actions is not entirely clear and this notion leads to observations about the film that lend it an unnerving resonance. Does John’s guilt entirely belong to him and how much of it is he liable; or alternatively is his disgust as someone else’s action merely disassociated self-disgust at not being able to rise to the occasion himself?

The film itself points quite clearly to a single outcome, laying blame squarely with some clarity; but it also presents a certain murkiness that allows other interpretations. Though many viewers will be disturbed by the episodes of violence, and others still will find those moments offensive, there will be some who discover a whole new depth to the movie through its exploration of these seedier elements. ” - ratty1984
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family. (115 mins.)
Director: Kim Jee-woon
“ Two Sisters takes its time and allows you to figure things out alongside the characters, just make sure to look for clues as you’re watching. It’s compelling, and it gets underneath your skin with its psychological curveballs, sensational sound effects, razor-sharp editing, and blood-curdling screams; a rare mix of fantasy, supernatural, and reality. From the opening image of Su-mi being in an insane asylum, through the unsettling conclusion, keep in mind that Kim has intentionally directed this movie with everything designed to freak you out. ” - ratty1984
Session 9 (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back. (100 mins.)
Director: Brad Anderson
“ With a slow burn of growing tension, the men become more and more uneasy as the simultaneously cavernous and claustrophobic asylum dominates their days. One of the characters finds a series of tapes and begins listening to them while he works. These are the sessions of the title, a series of psychiatric sessions with a little girl with multiple personalities, a former patient named Mary Hobbes to whom something terrible happened, something to do with a final personality not revealed until the final words of the movie in the ninth recorded session. It’s a brilliant conceit, these sessions that creep both us and the characters out, but that have absolutely nothing directly to do with the plot of the film. We feel that they must, that the creepiness of the asylum must have a secret within those tapes. But the tapes are not a plot device so much as a parallel story that echoes the themes of the story of the characters. The tapes are the distraction that the director uses on the audience while the sleight of hand occurs elsewhere. ” - ratty1984
The Strangers (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. (86 mins.)
Director: Bryan Bertino
“ This is all not to say that the film doesn't have flaws – it does – but that it covers those flaws with its overall level of craftsmanship. There are a few rather obvious moments throughout the film – moments where the audience has a pretty accurate sense of what is going to happen – but The Strangers is smart enough to pepper into those moments elements which keep the audience guessing despite their certainty. An extended, if somewhat familiar, beat outside the home where an injured Tyler must stumble and crawl through 10 minutes of runtime is mitigated by the fact that the killers simply aren't interested in swooping in for the immediate kill, and Tyler's decision not to run or rush is based upon her understanding of that terrifying maliciousness. ” - ratty1984
Paranormal Activity (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence. (86 mins.)
Director: Oren Peli
“ Striking at all of the right chords, the film's main focus - which seems to be the only original one - relies heavily on sound and atmosphere throughout the film. A refreshing aspect of Paranormal Activity lies in its minimal amount of special effects. With an exemplary use of sound, the film works on the nerves of the viewer by repeatedly assaulting them with a brilliant balance of silence, soundscape and subtle visual effects.

Furthermore, throughout Paranormal Activity what stands out is the lack of CGI-dependent special effects. The greater portion of special effects are conventional types of the film school variety. The better portion of special effects are of a psychological nature. ” - ratty1984
The Descent (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators. (99 mins.)
Director: Neil Marshall
“ The plot is simple: six women meet to go on their annual extreme sports weekend. Potholing/spelunking is selected. While squeezing through tunnels a cave-in occurs that traps them in the unknown system. They have to negotiate their way out, and fend off a race of blind albino mutated humans, who move super fast, and eat the flesh of any living creature.

Initially the tension simmers slowly by relying on the rivalries and problems between the characters combined with the natural claustrophobia of the caves and the physical problems facing the women. Once the gollum-like creatures make an appearance the action rachets ups and it's one scare after another. ” - ratty1984
Frontier(s) (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A gang of young thieves flee Paris during the violent aftermath of a political election, only to hole up at an Inn run by neo-Nazis. (108 mins.)
Director: Xavier Gens
“ Frontieres is that least appetising of concepts: French torture porn. As in The Cottage, criminals – four of them, this time – hide out in unfamiliar surroundings, but this time they are terrorised by a neo-Nazi motel-owner and his cannibalistic family...

It turns into a nightmarish episode of Delia’s How To Cheat At Cooking, albeit with fresher ingredients. Tendons are cut. Someone is boiled alive. Writer-director Xavier Gens throws some anti-Right wing propaganda into the melting pot.

As pretentiously horrifying as it is horrifyingly pretentious, this is Hostel without the laughs. ” - ratty1984
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater. (82 mins.)
“ Trick 'r Treat just might be the best horror anthology of all time. It's a smart, funny injection of creativity into the arm of a genre that's gotten too comfortable of late with remakes and sequels.

The individual stories themselves aren't totally original -- involving the typical anthology format of wrongdoers doing evil until a twist delivers their just desserts -- but they're intertwined and told with such zest that everything feels fresh. The intermingling of plots in particular breathes new life into the decreasingly relevant anthology format, which typically segregates each tale. ” - ratty1984
28 Days Later... (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. (113 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ 28 Days Later pulls few punches in terms of violence, and audiences of a nervous disposition will find some scenes hard to stomach. The scenes set in a deserted London are especially unsettling, ruined only by the unfortunate sight of passing traffic in the very distance of one panoramic shot.

Boyle sustains the mounting tension through clever use of handheld camerawork and grimy visuals. However, he sometimes has to contrive the shocks, such as having his four survivors break down in their getaway car in a tunnel, rather than take the safer route above ground. ” - ratty1984
Saw (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer. (103 mins.)
Director: James Wan
“ Made for a reputed million dollars, Saw proves a good idea doesn't require a big budget. First time director James Wan makes smart use of his resources and even manages to secure some recognized actors, though ironically it's the performances that are the film's weakest element. In addition to playing Adam, Whannell wrote the screenplay. On this evidence, he is clearly a better writer than an actor. The script, based on a story by Whannell and Wan, is absorbing, if not so much for the dialogue as the plotting. Its twists and turns are allied with some creative methods of torture. ” - ratty1984
The Abandoned (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
An adopted woman returns to her home country and the family home that she never knew and must face the mystery that lies there. (99 mins.)
Director: Nacho Cerdà
“ It might sound like something you’ve seen before, but trust me; The Abandoned is one of the darkest, creepiest films I’ve seen in a long time that bears little to no resemblance to any film in recent memory. I knew we’d get something special from Cerda, but even I didn’t hope for something as compelling and disturbing as The Abandoned turned out to be. ” - ratty1984
The Children (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A relaxing Christmas vacation turns into a terrifying fight for survival as the children begin to turn on their parents. (84 mins.)
Director: Tom Shankland
“ The Children is a strong entry in the recent horror hype. It creates a creepy and enervating atmosphere in the first half of the film, almost entirely created by the visuals, the editing and of course the magnificent soundtrack. Once the ball starts rolling it loses a little of its strength, though it never becomes stale or boring. The lack of explanation is also a strong point, the short running time another one. Films like this don't need much more and removing all possible filler just makes the experience all the more pleasant. ” - ratty1984
[Rec] (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying. (78 mins.)
The Uninvited (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Anna returns home after a stint in a mental hospital, but her recovery is jeopardized by her cruel stepmother and ghastly visions of her dead mother. (87 mins.)
The Collector (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Desperate to repay his debt to his ex-wife, an ex-con plots a heist at his new employer's country home, unaware that a second criminal has also targeted the property, and rigged it with a series of deadly traps. (90 mins.)
Director: Marcus Dunstan
I Saw the Devil (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases. (141 mins.)
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Insidious (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further. (103 mins.)
Director: James Wan
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem. (91 mins.)
Director: Tod Williams
A Serbian Film (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
An aging porn star agrees to participate in an "art film" in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover that he has been drafted into making a pedophilia and necrophilia themed snuff film. (104 mins.)
Sinister (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s. (110 mins.)
V/H/S (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
When a group of misfits are hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for. (116 mins.)
The Conjuring (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. (112 mins.)
Director: James Wan
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit. (134 mins.)
Director: James Wan
Mama (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young couple take in their 2 nieces only to suspect that a supernatural spirit named Mama has latched itself to their family. (100 mins.)
Director: Andy Muschietti
Dark Skies (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
As the Barret family's peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them. (97 mins.)
Director: Scott Stewart
Oculus (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon. (104 mins.)
Director: Mike Flanagan
The Babadook (2014)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. (93 mins.)
Director: Jennifer Kent
The Den (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
While studying the habits of web cam chat users from the apparent safety of her own home, a young woman's life begins to spiral out of control after witnessing a grisly murder online. (81 mins.)
Director: Zachary Donohue
Afflicted (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely. (85 mins.)