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Horror Movies of the Decade

Movies, Year-End | By A.J. for The Top 13 on December 22, 2009

As we near the end of a scary decade in cinema, The Top 13 counts down the very best horror films of the 2000s. Our list includes a number of foreign films, a comedy, and a direct-to-video offering, not to mention a few absolutely terrifying movies that revolutionized the genre.

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Let the Right One In

1

Let the Right One In

2008

Unfairly snubbed by its own country, Sweden, in considering its potential nominations for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language category, Let the Right One In is a brilliantly paced tale of a timid young boy and his new friend, Eli, who happens to be a vampire. The film is beautiful from start to finish, but just wait until the perfect ending. Unfortunately, because vampires are huge right now and remakes are always bankable, a U.S. remake called Let Me In is set for release in 2010.

Grindhouse

2

Grindhouse

2007

While some disagree about which half of Grindhouse is better - Robert Rodriguez' campy zombie flick Planet Terror or Quentin Tarantino's slowly-paced B-movie throwback Death Proof - the double feature still remains one of the coolest cinematic experiences in history, so long as you were lucky enough to see it. After bombing at the box office, the films were split into two DVDs, where they saw much more success, but without three of the original reel's hilarious fake trailers.

28 Days Later. . .

3

28 Days Later. . .

2002

American audiences did not get to see this film for six months after it was released in the U.K., but it was worth the wait. 28 Days Later. . . revolutionized the genre with its fast-moving zombies. And it was impressive in its bleak reveal of a completely desolated London. To film the sequence, large sectors of the city had to be completely closed off to pedestrians.

Shaun of the Dead

4

Shaun of the Dead

2004

Two major zombie flicks came out in 2004. One was an American remake of a zombie classic (number 11 on The Top 13), and the other was a British parody of that same film. While making fun of how slow zombies moved back in the day, Shaun of the Dead also pokes fun at the filmmaker's own British culture and manages to transcend parody to become one of the most emotionally-charged and character-driven zombie flicks ever made. It's also as funny a parody as you will see.

The Mist

5

The Mist

2007

What is a horror movie list without a Stephen King adaptation? Directed by King super fan Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), The Mist is probably the best King film since Shawshank. Though less successful at the box office than the other King adaptation released in 2007, 1408, this flick will make you jump, cringe, and stare at the screen in disbelief at the stunning ending.

Drag Me to Hell

6

Drag Me to Hell

2009

After spoiling his Spider-Man trilogy with a highly forgettable third installment, Sam Raimi went back to his cheesy-horror roots with Drag Me to Hell. The film is so perfectly hilarious that The Top 13 might go far as to say that Raimi has redeemed himself. If only he would stop pre-production on Spider-Man 4 and his Warcraft movie and just make the next Evil Dead installment he announced a while ago.

The Ring

7

The Ring

2002

America can fault this film with sparking the long, oversaturated series of Japanese horror remakes that followed it, including, among others, The Grudge and The Eye. Yet there's no question that the trendsetter was still significantly creepy and an improvement on the original. And the casting of Naomi Watts instead of some 20-year-old rising star like every other PG-13 horror flick in the past ten years scores it big points. It's just too bad she agreed to do that sequel.

Saw

8

Saw

2004

Another unfortunate trendsetter and the first in a franchise that spoiled with the second installment and only got more and more rotten after that, Saw was still effective and very original. Noted for its gore, the film stars Danny Glover and Cary Elwes and tells the story of two men who awake kidnapped and chained in a foul bathroom, and are forced to go through horrific torture in order to survive.

The Host

9

The Host

2006

The Koreans know how to make a great horror film. This one was a huge hit in its native country, and managed to make a small splash on this side of the pond, as well. It's an exciting film notable for its strong characters who actually attempt to take control of the situation, despite the fact that the sea monster that has taken the family's youngest member seems unstoppable and the government is doing nothing to help them.

The Descent

10

The Descent

2005

There are two particularly horrific elements to The Descent. One is the fear of being permanently and hopelessly trapped in a pitch black underground cave; the other is the population of humanoid "crawlers" who live in the caves and kill any intruders who intrude upon their society. When a group of Scottish women get trapped in an "unmapped" cave system in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, they must face both - and director Neil Marshall makes sure the audience feels like they are right there with them. This is truly one of the most claustrophobic movies ever made.

Dawn of the Dead

11

Dawn of the Dead

2004

Despite the fact it was following in the footsteps of 28 Days Later. . . with the use of fast-moving zombies, Zack Snyder's rendition of George A. Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead really holds its own as an American zombie flick that isn't just a low-budget B-movie. Indeed, this year's Zombieland probably wouldn't have existed without it. It's different enough from the original to allow die-hard fans to be at least content with it, and features what The Top 13 views as one of the very best opening ten minutes in horror film history.

A Tale of Two Sisters

12

A Tale of Two Sisters

2003

Another fine horror film from Korea, A Tale of Two Sisters is about two girls whose deceased mother is replaced by an evil woman who wants their father for herself. Sound familiar? It was remade into a movie called The Uninvited in the U.S. earlier this year. As expected, the remake failed to capture the compelling ambiguity of the Korean film, not to mention the dark, grieving imagination of the original's central character.

Trick 'r Treat

13

Trick 'r Treat

2008

Trick 'r Treat might very well be the only great straight-to-DVD horror movie. The film is centered around a trick 'r treater named Sam that kills with the jagged edge of his lollipop, but consists of four interwoven stories, each with its own awesome little twist. With the always stellar Anna Paquin and Sam, the coolest little murderer since Chucky, you can't go wrong.

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Comments Leave a comment

jason ★★

Good list, but 28 Days... and Drag Me to Hell should be higher. I guess that's what reader lists are for.

8:37 AM   Dec 22, 2009

rjasonf 

A list that's near and dear to my heart. You're dead on with #1. I think the Descent should be higher and Saw should be lower (if on there at all). Slither should have been on there. Can't wait to put together my submission for this one.

9:09 AM   Dec 22, 2009

PulpAffliction ★★

I will defend your decision to include "The Ring" instead of "Ringu" to the death. This coming from a Nippon-ophile.

There are a lot of things I'd change about the list, but it's pretty good. I am glad to see "Drag Me To Hell" on your list.

Also: "Trick 'r Treat" is great, but this sentance ("Trick 'r Treat might very well be the only great straight-to-DVD horror movie.") is sooo beyond false.

12:09 PM   Dec 22, 2009

Travelin_Jack 

You kind of have to put saw on the list because it's been such a big franchise but its quality is below most of these.

Pleasantly surprised to see The Mist and The Host. I loved both.

Have not seen Trick 'r Treat.

12:10 PM   Dec 22, 2009

Travelin_Jack 

rjason is completely right about slither.

12:12 PM   Dec 22, 2009

rjasonf 

Just for the record, "Ringu" came out in 1998, so it is ineligible for this particular list.

12:50 PM   Dec 22, 2009

david 

Blood and gore really don't bother me that much, but The Descent taps into my number one fear of being stuck in a small place, and it does it so well. I think it had terrified me more than any other I've seen on this list.

5:32 PM   Dec 22, 2009

dudezer47 

The lack of The Devil's Backbone on this list is kind of a major omission, imho.

8:58 AM   Dec 23, 2009

tloveisready ★★

Lots of scarier movies than Saw. And the Mist was soooooooo awful, but the rest of the list isn't too bad.

3:19 PM   Dec 27, 2009

jamesc2929 

"Let the Right One In" is not only the best horror film of the decade, it is one of the best films of the decade period.

2:25 PM   Jan 03, 2010

ajay ★★

I would even say all-time.

4:43 PM   Jan 04, 2010

Sura 

I want to submit a list but pretty much just want #1-12 to be 28 Days Later and #13 to be Drag Me to Hell.

8:47 PM   Jan 04, 2010

holmessss 

Quarentine - great zombie film.

3:26 PM   Jan 11, 2010

KingKrentist 

28 Days Later should be number one probably, but Let the Right One in sticks with you for dayyyyss. Incredibly haunting film.

1:45 PM   Apr 15, 2010

bosco12 

Not a bad list, but do you really think that 28 days later revolutionized the genre with fast-moving zombies? Are you serious? Haven't you ever seen the Return Of The Living Dead movies? The zombies even talked in those films! 28DL is technically not even a zombie movie, the monsters were infected, not undead! Most of your movie reviews are pretty spot on, but please, don't let people who obviously don't know what they're talking about write stuff about zombie movies. It just makes you sound a little dumb.

3:15 PM   May 06, 2010

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