Mark Hofmeyer at Movies, Films, And Flix has done extensive research and aggregating to compile a list of the top horror films of the 21st century, based on several pre-existing lists and a new poll created to whittle it all down to the very best.
You can check out the full top 20 list and a breakdown of how Hofmeyer came to these results here. Let us know your thoughts on what's missing and which are deserving of their current spots on the list. With LONE SURVIVOR becoming the first surprise of 2014 at the box office, it seems a good time to go back and look at one of the most popular genres of film: War.
Director Kim Ji-Woon (A Tale of Two Sisters) sends an intelligence agent (Lee Byung-hun) on a mission of vengeance against a sadistic serial killer (Choi Min-sik) in this shocking and stunningly depraved cat and mouse thriller in which all notions of morality go out the window along with numerous bloody body parts.
Brutal and almost unwatchable, Martyrs represented perhaps the apex of the French extreme horror movement.
The movie, like its spiritual forefather Night of the Living Dead, is also rich in political and social subtext, while balancing moments of outright terror with passages of almost poetic reflection. Debate rages (even now, between this writer and his editor) over whether Mulholland Drive is actually a horror movie, but the simple truth is that filmmaking legend David Lynch has incorporated elements of horror into many of his films. Lead actress Maika Monroe is a star in the making, but the most unforgettable thing about It Follows is its implacable walking phantoms, who cause your flesh to crawl every time they enter the frame. Both a deconstruction of the horror genre and a cracking good horror movie in its own right, The Cabin in the Woods could only be the work of Joss Whedon (co-writer) and Drew Goddard (co-writer and director), whose love and understanding of both the genre and the wider pop culture context around it make this one of the smartest satires in recent memory.
A faithful and pretty great Stephen King adaptation, The Mist is terrifying not just for the macabre monsters that coming streaming out of the title cloud to lay siege on a small group of people trapped in a supermarket, but for the way those people turn so quickly on each other as well. Anderson shot the movie at the real Danvers, and the empty treatment rooms and labyrinthine underground tunnels create an undeniable atmosphere of disquiet and uncertainty. It was a foregone conclusion that the Japanese horror smash Ringu (1998), after becoming an underground sensation internationally, would be the subject of a big-budget Hollywood remake.
The American version fleshes out a few more narrative points that the Japanese film left ambiguous, but never wavers from its tone of quietly mounting terror. The movie is unstoppably scary, showing no mercy to the characters or the audience (one shock early in the film makes this writer jump to this day), but also examines how far people will go to survive in seemingly impossible circumstances.
With just one feature to his credit before this (Down Terrace), director and co-writer Ben Wheatley hits his second film clear out of the park, fashioning it into a mash-up of gritty crime thriller and chilling Lovecraftian horror tale. The somber mood, ambiguous plot (Wheatley deliberately and correctly leaves much unexplained) and almost unwatchable bursts of violence come to a boil in the truly horrifying and enigmatic climax.


Enter the Babadook, the subject of a frightening storybook that Sam finds and an entity that is soon terrorizing mother and child.
The movie is drenched in both a heavy atmosphere of dread and a blanket of sadness; its mournful elegance counterbalances some of its more chilling scenes of terror.
In an era of endless bloodsucking YA hotties, leave it to an 11-year-old girl to create the best and eeriest vampire seen on the screen in years. The two child actors are outstanding, with Leandersson projecting an otherworldliness and weariness far beyond her years. We encourage users to report abusive images and help us moderate the content on We Heart It.
Nicole Kidman is superb as Grace, who relocates herself and her two small children to a remote country estate in the aftermath of World War II.
Romero -- the father of the modern zombie movie -- and to the horror genre in general launched the careers of director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost outside of the U.K.
Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland expertly reinvigorated a subgenre that had been nearly moribund, paving the way for both the superb (The Walking Dead) and the silly (the film version of World War Z). The writer and director of The Strangers made quite a splash with his debut feature, which relied more on a mounting sense of dread and escalating suspense than violence and gore.
Things quickly take a turn not just for the bad but for the unspeakable as our heroes confront a zombie plague of a horrific nature, and [REC] rubs your nose in every nightmarish moment. Proposing that the standard template for a horror film is what keeps the real horrors at bay, the movie turns that formula on its head yet works it to maximum effect.
A five-man asbestos abatement team is hired to clean out the abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts, but the crew, led by the stressed-out Gordon (Peter Mullan), soon finds itself at the mercy of both personal tensions and an unseen force inside the facility. The nearly gore-free movie is a model of how a fantastic setting, a solid cast and an almost complete lack of jump scares can make for a thoroughly haunting viewing experience.
There have been plenty of J-horror remakes in the wake of The Ring, but it remains the first and the best. Marshall subverts the genre with his strong all-female cast (not a male hero in sight), refusing to dumb them down, but then puts the screws to them by introducing the blind humanoid inhabitants of the caves, surely one of the most horrific monster creations of the decade. Essie Davis is outstanding as Amelia, a widowed mother still reeling from the loss of her husband Oskar as she does her exhausted best to raise their troubled six-year-old son Sam (Noah Wiseman), who was born the night that Oskar died.
Thoroughly frightening and unnerving, The Babadook is also quite profound as it touches on the nature of grief and parenthood, hinting that both can drive a person to the edge of madness -- or into the clutches of the Babadook.


This is dark supernatural storytelling at its finest and a marvelous example of just how high the horror genre -- so often maligned by critics -- can reach.
Based on a novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist and directed by fellow Swede Tomas Alfredson, this is the story of the friendship that grows between lonely, bullied 12-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and the little girl who lives in the apartment next door, Eli (Lina Leandersson) -- an ancient vampire inside the body of a child. Credit is also due to the English-language remake by director Matt Reeves, who stayed largely faithful to the original while tweaking its meaning slightly (his actors, Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, are fine if not quite as good as the Swedish cast). We had absolutely no problem tallying 24 movies for this article, and could probably do another 24 without breaking much of a sweat. Kim holds it all together masterfully, creating a horrifying experience like nothing else we saw the year it came out.
The ordeal she goes through is just the grand finale of a nihilistic exercise in depravity. Their highly structured life -- the children are sensitive to sunlight and must stay in darkened rooms -- is shattered by mysterious presences in the house. The story is a simple, straightforward home invasion narrative, but Bertino keeps it creepy and unsettling throughout thanks to some eerie imagery and his three terrifying antagonists. The building itself is a spectacular, claustrophobic setting, and what [REC] lacks in meaningful character development it makes up in relentless terror and dread. Two former British soldiers turned hit men (Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley) take a job in which they must kill three people -- a priest, a video archivist and a member of Parliament -- but soon find out that they have gotten involved with something far beyond their experience and understanding. Let the Right One In is scary, funny, romantic and also quite mournful, tackling themes of youth, sexuality, loyalty, loss of innocence and love within a terrific and haunting vampire tale. Amenabar relies on mood, atmosphere and a few well-placed scares to make this an excellent modern-day companion to classics like The Haunting and The Innocents.
Beyond that, however, The Mist is a genuinely scary monsterpalooza, with one of the bleakest endings ever.



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