The Best Horror Movies of the 21st Century So Far, Ranked

15: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

A Zack Snyder remake of the classic George Romero film, the story remains as fresh today as it did when it first hit audiences in 1978. Starring Sarah Polley, Jake Weber, and Ving Rhames as the survivors of a mass plague that creates flesh-eating zombies out of its victims, the group takes refuge in a mall to stay alive (and uninfected). Snyder delivers plenty of thrills, while keeping true to the socio-political undertones of the original. (Photo: Universal Pictures.)

14: The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, 12-year-old Carlos arrives at an orphanage. No sooner does he settle in than he begins to be haunted by the ghost of a former student, who warns of an impending tragedy. Beautifully directed by Guillermo del Toro, the film seamlessly weaves the very real terrors of a country torn by war with that of the paranormal. (Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

13: [Rec] (2007)

Putting the found footage genre to use in a zombie story, Spanish film [Rec] chronicles the fate of TV reporter Angela, as she and her cameraman, Pablo, follow an emergency crew into a menacing apartment building. Though a string of sequels has followed the original, the first remains the best when it comes to delivering a good old-fashioned scare. (Photo: Castelao Producciones)

12: The Orphanage (2007)

When will people learn revisting scenes of their childhood in horror movies never pays off? In this case, a woman named Laura brings her entire family back to the orphanage where she grew up. When Laura’s son soon goes missing, what follows is a master class in suspense, as Laura and a team of parapsychologists attempt to unravel the mysteries within. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

11: The Conjuring (2013)

Loosely based on the true story of a pair of paranormal investigators, the blue eyes of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are put to very good use in a wide array of close-ups. Not quite a possession story, not quite a ghost story, it’s worth watching for the performances of its stellar cast and creepy atmosphere, rather than genuine jump-in-your-seat moments. (Photo: New Line Cinema)

10: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

A hilarious take on the classic horror scenario of “what happens to a group of people trapped in a cabin in the woods,” this genre-bending, comedic romp stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as a pair of hapless friends who get their vacation upended by gore, mayhem and plenty of screaming. In between the laughs and tongue-in-cheek bromance bonding are plenty of actual shriek-worthy moments. (Photo: Magnet Releasing)

9: The Others (2001)

This suspenseful gothic tale keeps the viewer on the edge sans any big special effects. Take Nicole Kidman in one of her finest performances, add a bunch of creepy servants, an old house, two children with a really weird allergy, and a twist ending worthy of The Sixth Sense, and you get one of the best ghost movies ever made. (Photo: Miramax Films)

8: 28 Days Later (2002)

Danny Boyle’s take on a zombie apocalypse has it all: thrills, chills, gore and Christopher Eccleston in a small but memorable role as a cold-blooded soldier. A young Cliian Murphy doesn’t hurt either. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

7: Saw (2004)

You will cover your eyes when watching this film. Whether it’s because of the gore, the visceral torture scenes, or the horrifying dilemma central to the film’s premise, we couldn’t tell you. But you will be taken on a roller coaster of emotions, we guarantee. (Photo: Lions Gate Films)

6. Zombieland (2009)

Woody Harrelson steals the show in this coming-of-age-slash-zombie movie. Jesse Eisenberg is the hapless hero who has a lot of learning to do; the zombies are ickily gory; the ingenue (Emma Stone) kicks some serious butt; and the laughs abound. Also, casting Bill Murray in a zombie flick? Genius. (Photo: Sony Pictures)

5. Battle Royale (2000)

We don’t care if the year 2000 doesn’t technically fall into the 21st century.

The Hunger Games is nothing compared with this cult masterpiece by Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku. A group of middle school students go on what is a seemingly innocent field trip, only to be rendered unconscious and taken to a remote island. Upon awakening, they discover they are the year’s participants in the nation’s ultimate game, where students must kill each other until only one remains. Philosophical, horrifying, controversial, and above all, packed with suspenseful thrills, this is one film bound to go down in film history as a classic. (Photo: Anchor Bay Entertainment)

4. I Saw The Devil (2010)

What happens when revenge turns you into the monster you’re chasing? That question is at the heart of this action-packed Korean horror thriller. Starring Oldboy‘s Min-sik Choi as a sadistic serial killer, and Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee as a man on a quest for vengeance, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the screen. (Photo: Magnolia Releasing)

3. Confessions (2010)

Bloodthirsty schoolchildren, the murder of a child, and a mother’s love taken to the extremes–this moody Japanese psychological thriller is the most twisted whodunit you’ll ever see. What makes it so chilling isn’t ghosts, monsters, or things under the bed, but the darkness that lies within every human being. (Photo: MGM Home Entertainment)

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

One of the best bromances ever captured on camera set against a massively gory zombie apocalypse, this film, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, posits that, yes, a zombie may eat your bestie, but true video-game marathon friendship can survive even death.

1. Let the Right One In (2008)

Real vampires are everywhere. They may even lurk behind the face of the mysterious girl in your apartment complex, a girl who’s just a lonely kid like you. Masterfully written, directed and acted, this atmospheric thrill-fest delivers skin-crawling moments when least expected. True horror at its finest, it forces the viewer to confront that deep-seated, ancient fear every human feels at the monsters that go bump in the night. (Photo: Magnolia Home Entertainment)

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