If you’re like anyone who absolutely loves Halloween, then you that it’s the perfect time to watch endless amounts of Horror Films. It always serves as a great way to re-watch old movies from the likes of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Ed Wood, William Castle, Guillermo Del Toro, and many others in the field of Cinema purely made to Scare. With all of the hundreds-of-thousands of films to choose from, the choices are endless to make a great binge-watching experience on Halloween.
Since I’ve been in the Halloween spirit, I decided to talk about a subject that is often belittled: Horror Films of the 21st Century. As time has passed over the course of the genre’s history, many different sub-genres have been made due to what directors/audiences were interested in. While we’ve gotten exposed to certain genres and tropes throughout specific decades, the ’90s started a bit of a decline in tropes and was just all over the place ranging from horror films making fun of other horror movies, People pointing a camera in other people’s faces,tribute films, and (of course) remakes of older and more well known horror films. For the most part, they weren’t liked very much, but there are a few gems that can always be found over the years and I’ve decided to share with you my personal favorites that I’ve seen.
My only Criteria for this is pretty simple: They must have been released from the year 2000 and beyond. Unfortunately, that does cut out a lot of good films from the ’90s, but that can be for another list.
As usual, I’ll start off with some Honorable Mentions:
Saw – The series is mediocre at best, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the first film
The Strangers – A great home invasion film that relies on many subtle scares
Let the Right One In/Let Me In – Both great vampire films based on the same source material
The House of the Devil – A great ghost film by Ti West
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil – While mostly bordering toward Comedy instead of Horror, it still counts as a horror film in my opinion.
Cloverfield – While Found Footage films are usually hit-or-miss, I’ve enjoyed this film out of the most of the films in the genre and is probably one of the better examples of the good films that can be made in it
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale – Imagine The Thing crossed with Christmas and you’d get this movie. (I’ll definitely look at this film on ICFTDI in the future)
With that done, On with the List.
13. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
While most vampires now-a-days have often been reduce to bland characters in tween romance novels, it is nice to see a movie where they return back to normal as haunting blood suckers. Not only that, but it does serve as a great directorial debut for Ana Lily Amirpour and has me interested to look forward to her next film, a romance film about Cannibals in a Post apocalyptic Texas with Jim Carrey, when it comes out in the future.
12. We Are What We Are (2013 Version)
(I’m a bit surprised I ended up putting an American remake on here.)
Aside from Jump scares, another common trait of modern horror is the Gore Factor. Many horror films, especially ones by Eli Roth, often try to freak you out by seeing how much blood and guts it can throw at you. With this film, which tells of a Cannibalistic family, that is to be expected; But when it also throws in an interesting story, great acting, and an interesting commentary on religion and how it affects the mind, you get a really good horror film, Not to mention a very good remake. (I haven’t seen the original yet, but I’ll have to take a look soon.)
11. The Descent
The idea of Spelunking can seem like a unique experience, but it can definitely can be a massive problem with people who are Claustrophobic…and that’s exactly how this film works. It plays off the fear of being in tight small enclosed spaces as well as having strange humanoid creatures who live in caves and having the movie play in a dark theater, or home, definitely enhances the experience of watching the movie.
10. 28 Days Later
Well, this one was definitely an easy pick. While many zombie films covered the initial start of the apocalypse and its first victims, the film covers the crisis in a different light with societal collapse of a nation undergoing the apocalypse along with trying to survive in a world surrounding by death and destruction. It was a breath of fresh air for the zombies that would influence many other works following the film’s release.
9. The Orphanage
One sub genre that has catch my attention recently has been foreign ghost films. While most American films will often have ghost films being recorded off a surveillance camera set up at night watching people sleep, a lot of the foreign films have often taken the suspenseful route, building up the atmosphere and genuinely making the film very haunting, similar to older haunted house films, and this film was no exception. It often builds up the atmosphere and sets up an interesting for the hauntings and made some wonderful scares throughout the film.
8. Black Swan
You wouldn’t think that a movie focused on ballet would ever come off as being scary, but Darren Aronofsky and a great performance by Natalie Portman show us how the pressure of seeking perfection can truly drive some people absolutely crazy and it was a major surprise for many people, myself included.
7. The Innkeepers
Ti West has been a director who is relatively new in the horror community, but he mas made multiple great horror films in his career so far. The Innkeepers was one that I recently saw and it was definitely a treat for me to find. With it often switching from Light-hearted Comedy to Insane Horror, it can be a bit of an odd sit, but, never-the-less, it still stands as one of the more hardcore horror films that have been recently put out in the Horror World.
6. Shaun of the Dead
This film was probably going to be another obvious choice out of all of them. With that being said, there’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said before: It’s funny, it’s scary, Simon & Nick play off each other greatly, and it ends up being my favorite of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.
5. The Conjuring
While all of the ghost films that we’ve been treated to in recent years, James Wan decides to give us one of the better ones we’ve gotten with allusions to the Haunted House films of the ’70s, some old-fashioned scares, and some good performances from Vera and Patrick as the Warrens; Making it probably his best film that he’s made so far.
4. The Babadook
From Australia, the world was treated to another surprising Directorial Debut, this time from Jennifer Kent, from 2014 telling of a character from a Storybook which comes to haunt a single mother and her strange child which was very effective and very haunting instead of the usual jump scares you’d find in films of ghosts. (Although while not about ghosts, this still reminded me a bit of a few ghost films.)
3. The Devil’s Backbone
If you know me, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of Guillermo Del Toro. He has created many great films throughout the course of his career and my personal favorite will always be The Devil’s Backbone. The film is a visually haunting treat with a ghost story mixed in with a group of orphans trying to survive during the Spanish Civil War in 1939. It is by far one of his best films as well as one of the best Mexican horror films I’ve seen in a long time.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
This film was obviously going to be very high on the list for obvious reasons. The film is great at playing with common traits you’d find in a lot of horror movies, mixing in elements you’d find in many different sub-genres, as well as using some of those tropes for the film, adding in references to older horror films from various different eras, and it all adds up to being a highly enjoyable play on the same old song & dance that many people rely on using for their on horror films.
…and, Finally, my Number 1 choice is…
Trick ‘R Treat
I’ve often express my love for this film to many people and on many different occasions, including on this site, so I’ll try to keep this very brief. I love the fact that it celebrates the folklore and legends of Halloween, I love the character Sam, It’s one of the better Horror Anthology films out there, it has a lot of traits from some of the older horror films, and it has quickly become one of my all time favorite Horror films that I’ll always watch, whether on Halloween or any other time of the year.
So, with all of that being said, my list draws to a close. I may cover other films from previous decades in the future, but only time will tell. Until then, Have a Happy October.