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Top 5 Horror Films of the 21st Century!

We’re nearly 15 years into the 21st century, if some of you can believe that. That’s given us a swatch of horror films and it’s worth making sure that we recognize the great ones that have come out so far.

With that in mind, we’ve got Terminal Gods vocalist Robert Cowlin, who has decided that he’s up for the task of looking into this topic and weighing in with his thoughts.

Cowlin states:

Horror movies, so many to choose from. I spent four years studying and exhibiting them and still you merely scratch the surface. How can one reduce this great swelling tide into one coherent list? The stuff of nightmares, fantasy, story books – and here are my favourite ones loosely tied together under this thing we call genre. No, this is the sort of thing that requires a much larger canvas than I am permitted here. I am restricted to the concept of the list, but that’s it. How to fill it? Well, I once toyed with the idea of a thesis that had post-millennial horror films at its core. I won’t go into the interlinking theories and themes now, but I scoured my archive of popular 21st Century horror and here are five that I always recommend…

Read on for Cowlin’s Top 5 Horror Films Of The 21st Century!

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COMMENTS

100 Comments
  • He clearly hasn’t seen many horror movies…… (-_-)

  • Raziel_cz

    I consider The Cabin in a Woods more of a parody than a horror movie, and even though I don’t think it’s as good as everyone says, I understand that it may be a classic to some people. But Rec? Give me a break!

    • James

      Rec is at least better than saw

    • CTHL

      REC was the best movie on his list… and I’d easily agree with it.

  • horrorking95

    Mine would be:
    5. I Saw the Devil
    4. Eden Lake
    3. Calvaire
    2. Inside
    1. Martyrs
    I think :S

    • Tim Nuttall

      Id go with that, probably swap Calvaire for Kill List or the criminaly overlooked The Living and the Dead.

    • Macready411

      Can agree with these picks, I’d have to sub in Maniac for Eden Lake though.

  • 1. I saw the devil – heartbreaking tale and incredible film
    2. Rec 2 – makes the first one look like a comedy
    3. The descent – nobody put this masterpiece in the list?
    4. The conjuring/ Insidious due to the similar aesthetic
    5. The innkeepers (way underrated)

    Bonus: Cabin in the woods for the insane last act (but not scary) and The devil’s rejects.

    As for Sinister, come on, all the jump scares were given away so technically I was not even remotely scared with the film.

    • Anthony Gulino

      Yeah I have The Descent top of my list..I Saw The Devil was brilliant also…

  • murdermakesmecum666

    i’m sorry but this list sucks. what about irreversible? or any of the august underground movies? Martyrs?

    • Chrissie-Watkins

      So not enough rape and torture, is what you’re saying?

  • CTHL

    My unagreeable list… that was hard to keep down to 5 since I haven’t really considered an order of favorites outside of my top 2:

    1. A Tale of Two Sisters (frankly, the best movie ever made)

    2. Ju-on & The Grudge (not a typo, I’m cheating listing 2… and ashamedly admitting yet again that I love the Buffy version)
    3. 28 Days Later
    4. REC
    5. The Ring-make (I’d say Ringu, but… ’98)

    • Taboo

      Agree with Tale of Two Sisters, great movie!

  • Full Frontal Squashing

    1. Martyrs
    2. REC
    3. Inside
    3. Let the Right One In
    5. Session 9

  • joelwaters

    Cabin In the Woods? Give me a break. I agreed with you up til that selection

    • Taboo

      Well that’s his list :p

  • Taboo

    Rec is the only movie I like from that list.

  • idk man this list had some misses but they were good movies i just dot think they were the best of the century maybe you should make a poll and have people vote on them but here is what my choices would be

    IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

    1.grave encounters ( the first one had its moments)

    2.a tale of 2 sisters( very well made)
    3.[REC] (mainly part 2)
    4.high tension
    5.i saw the devil (idk if its horror or a thriller but its one of my top favorite movies)

  • Chrissie-Watkins

    This seems like an extremely random grouping. I can’t figure out what this guy’s criteria is for a “good” horror film. Its not scariness, because House of the Devil and Sinister are on here, its not originality, because REC (which was a great movie, but definitely hopped on the found footage bandwagon) is on here. I don’t get it.

  • thedragon803

    in order from release date:

    1. 28 Days Later
    2. Saw
    3. The Descent
    4. The Devil’s Rejects
    5. Grindhouse

    Honorable Mention: Evil Dead

  • Aleister LaVey

    My list would probably go something like this:

    5. The Conjuring
    4. Shaun of the Dead
    3. Rabies
    2. The Cabin In The Woods
    1. Martyrs

    • Anthony Gulino

      Loved “Rabies” but didnt care for the much celebrated “Cabin in The Woods”, it was interesting though..

  • Krug09

    I would have to see a list in front of me. There weren’t many good ones tbh. Saw is the biggest piece of shit ever lol.

    House of the Devil was really good but idk if it was in the top 5. I love horror but theres too many throwaways in the last 15 years.

  • brewers_rule

    I don’t understand peoples’ fascination for Cabin in the Woods. By the end of the movie, the plot had gone so far off the rails it didn’t make any sense nor was believable, much less scary. It’s like they said “How many things can we fit into a horror movie at one time” before they wrote it.

  • K-Dogg

    The Descent and The Conjuring top my list since 2000, plus 30 Days of Night, The Mist, Severance, A’Linterieur (Inside) , Frontiers, Trick’R’Treat, Dog Soldiers, to name a few.

  • diapers

    Here’s my list. I’m a weirdo.
    1) Blood Junkie (yes, I’m serious)
    2) 28 Days Later
    3) The Pact
    4) Piranha 3D
    5) Hatchet
    Honorable mentions:
    -Grindhouse
    -Under the Skin

  • Bruce Hannan

    Thought as it was mentioned in the list I would give The House of the Devil a viewing, so far I’m 38 mins in and is a little painful to watch. The dialogue and pacing of the movie are shockingly boring and the way each scene plays out at the moment is so unrealistic how any normal person would behave or speak even if it is set in the 80s.. Ti West has a habit of coming up with an interesting story but you have to endure shocking direction and script.. Will keep watching but can guarantee it won’t make my top 5 list.

    • CTHL

      I didn’t like it either, at all. I’d go so far as to say it’s quite bad, and as stated already, an even worse ending to top it all off. Yet, someone is always praising it for reasons beyond my comprehension.

      But I guess we all have one of those… I know I do! (see my Grudge pick).

  • amp69

    1. You’re Next
    2. The Descent
    3. Trick’R’Treat
    4. The Conjuring
    5. Let the Right One In

    • Mightygil

      I generally like this list except You’re Next, which wouldn’t even make my top 50

      • amp69

        I just saw it last not and while it’s flawed – Erin is by far the greatest ‘final girl’ EVER!!!!!

  • Bruce Hannan

    1. From Hell
    2. Final Destination
    3. Saw
    4. The Mist
    5. Dog Soldiers

    would probably place amp69’s list 6-10 if I could re-place You’re Next with Shaun of The Dead (thats one way of getting my top 10 in haha)

    • amp69

      Shaun of The Dead should never be on a ‘horror list’, top 10 zombie movie or Top 20 comedy movie no doubt…I love that movie but it’s not a traditional horror movie.

      • Bruce Hannan

        Is listed on IMDb as horror comedy, I don’t think it is slapstick enough to take it out the horror genre, its no Scary Movie is what I mean. Evil Dead 2 is probably in many peoples top 10 horror movies of all time, that is pretty funny too (although not on a par as Shaun of The Dead)

      • Wilson Bro

        As one of the Zombies in the movie – thanks, man! I was going to say something pithy like “you’re welcome”, but f*ck it!

        • amp69

          The zombie threat in the movie would be the reason it could fall in the horror category because you’re right they were a real threat to the protagonists.

          Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead 2, Dead Alive, American Werewolf in London, and honorable mention Return of the Living Dead – really deserve their own categories as those movies truly transcend their genres.

          • Wilson Bro

            With you all the way on the list of movies, there! Well, apart from Dead Alive. If you were talking Brain Dead, then I’d agree! The US title always seemed as though it was thought up by some Sam Arkoff type. Still, when on rare occasion I get called a zombie by some philistine, I have the retort of “I’m not a zombie, but I have played one in a movie…” in reserve. Defuses tensions nicely!

          • amp69

            In the US (where I live) Brain Dead was released as Dead Alive – it’s the same movie.

          • Wilson Bro

            Yeah, I know! Just a cheeky swipe at the change of title in the US! It was also shorn of a few minutes (some objectionable material, some not) once retitled. Peter Jackson is one of those directors who never looks back fondly at his previous work, which is why you never get his involvement in any re-releases. A pity.

          • amp69

            His LOTR stuff is good but I want more Bad Taste, Brain Dead, The Frighteners and Heavenly Creatures – Peter Jackson!

    • Mike Jacobson

      Interesting to see “From Hell” on your list. I loved that movie, but I’m not sure I’d label it horror. Closer to historical fiction in my view, but you can certainly make an argument for horror.

  • Lucca Cantisano

    Sinister, really? Mine would be, in a random order (I tried to make it 5 but I couldn’t):

    1 – REC
    2 – Insidious
    3 – The Hills Have Eyes (yes, a remake)
    4 – The Descent
    5 – Inside
    6 – The Orphanage
    7 – SAW
    8 – Antichrist
    9 – Shutter (2004)

  • ThunderDragoon

    1. Jeepers Creepers
    2. Ju-on 2
    3. Final Destination 5
    4. Curse of Chucky
    5. Shutter (original, obviously)

  • Christensen

    Sinister? The Cabin in the Woods?

    yikes

    • Anthony Gulino

      agreed…

  • Mucey

    Hey Bloody Disgusting… how about a poll?

  • BloodyDe1ty

    Hmmm this is in no order and changes all the time depending on what I remeber lol

    – The House Of The Devil
    – Let The Right One In
    – 28 Days Later
    – House of 1000 Corpses
    – The Cabin In The Woods

  • Ed

    House of the Devil was awful, sorry folks. The Conjuring didn’t make the list? Really. Or Let The Right One In? 28 Days Later? I Saw The Devil? Or the heavily Underrated Frontier(s)?

    This list is weak.

    • parsyeb

      Nice shout-out for Frontier(s) — there once was a time when I thought Xavier Gens was the next Alexandre Aja.

  • Robbie Wright

    No specific order:
    1. Cabin Fever
    2. The Devil’s Rejects
    3. Insidious 1 and 2
    4. Inside
    5. 13 Ghosts

    Honorable Mentions: Kill Theory, Hills Have Eyes, Dead Silence

  • ohitsmerenz

    Is it okay that i can’t make up my own list? I’ve watched a lot of horror movies and i love them all 🙁

    • Chrissie-Watkins

      you’re lucky, I’ve seen a lot that I ended up kicking myself for even watching.

  • Anthony Gulino

    No specific order with NO horror/comedy

    1.The Descent
    2.Dog Soldiers
    3.Hills Have Eyes
    4.28 Days Later
    5.The Ring
    Honorable mention
    Frontiers, The Conjuring, High Tension,Martyrs,Midnight Meat Train

    I’m not sure what this list says about the state of the horror genre here in America…

  • EB

    I will NEVER understand the apparent love for Sinister. I saw it with as part of a double feature with the almost as abominable The Possession (that Jewish exorcism film) and the fact that I hated Sinister more speaks volumes. The scares were something that would have freaked me out only if I were a horror novice. ghost kids acting more like they were dancing than stalking. A non-sensical plot. plot arcs that went nowhere.. AWFUL!
    I can have no qualms with the others he picked. Replace Sinister with The Descent or Slither and its an incredibly good list.

    • Chrissie-Watkins

      I agree with you, I think its a shame, though, there was some really disturbing imagery in that film that was not used to its full potential. The scenes outside of the home movies were a complete waste of time.

  • Agree with REC and Cabin In The Woods, the other 3…meh. Sinister and I have no love for Saw or The House Of The Devil.

  • Not sure I can narrow it down to five.
    High Tension
    Inside
    REC
    REC 2
    Insidious
    Silent Hill
    28 Days Later
    28 Weeks Later
    Maniac (2013)
    The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
    The Ring (2002)
    Jeepers Creepers
    The Mist
    The Others
    There’s more, I’m sure.

    • Chamber

      Now this is what I call a freaking list! Someone should hire you for this site. You have amazing taste.

      • Haha, thank you very much! If you like my list then you clearly have great taste as well! If I were going to write for a site I’d go with Shock Til You Drop. I trust them more than anyone else. That’s not meant to be a knock against BD, my opinions are just usually more in line with the writers from Shock.

    • Interesting K.Lee. You put Silent Hill. That film freaked me out. It was oozing atmosphere and psychological horror!

      • Oh, yeah, I love Silent Hill. Such an underrated movie. The sequel was horrid but the first one is one of my favorites.

  • prettyscary

    I have to agree with the ending of House of the Devil comments; the movie had me until the end. It disappointed me.

  • MinaDoll7

    The only one i agreed on this list was REC. Cabin In the Woods was awesome but I don’t think it’s as memorable as other greats. Top 5 is too short for me, but here’s my list:
    1) REC
    2) 30 Days of Night
    3)The Orphanage
    4) The Ring
    5) Paranormal Activity (haters gonna hate but I loved this movie)
    Honorable Mentions: The Others, Shutter (Thai), REC2, The Ring 2, The Descent, The Conjuring, Grave Encounters

  • Chamber

    No films from Asia? Already the list is a bust.

  • Mike Jacobson

    My top 5 (not in order):

    1. The Ring – the very rare movie that scared the sh*t out of me and most of the other ADULTS that I know. Not easy to accomplish.

    2. Human Centipede (First Sequence) – it stays with you for days or weeks after you watch it. You repeat scenes or quotes in your head and it’s both hilarious and terrifying.

    3. The Descent – Just like The Ring, this is a legitimately scary movie because it preys on our fear of the dark. And really, who isn’t afraid of it?

    4. Cabin in the Woods – A valiant effort to turn the entire horror genre on its head, and given its tremendous aspirations, it did really well.

    5. 28 Days Later – The movie that took zombies and made them a realistic world plague, showing us the grit and luck it would take to survive.

    Honorable mentions:

    1. REC – I liked it, but I couldn’t get past the shaky cam footage. Not a fan of the hand-held POV sub genre.

    2. 30 Days of Night – This movie brought vampires back from emo to badass.

    3. The Mist – A Stephen King novel done right (despite the ending). That’s rare.

    4. *Audition – The suspense that builds in this movie is absolutely insane. And even with that anticipation, the ending doesn’t fail to deliver. Another one that will stay with you for a long time after it’s over.

    *Would be in the top 5 if it was released three months later.

    • FLinga

      I didn’t think The Ring was that scary. There were some moments of tension, but a lot of ‘in betweens’ – I honestly don’t think it’s that brilliant. Cabin in the Woods I think is crap, not scary, not even for a few seconds.

      28 Days later, I’ll agree there. I enjoyed the descent the first time I watched it,but I haven’t seen it since then, might give it a rewatch. Human Centipede…. well, you can’t go past a human centipede.

  • LargeMarge

    this list is a fucking travesty, and the author should be flogged.

  • No offense, but this is an awful, awful list, lol

  • parsyeb

    Here’s 10. Horror cinema has been intermittently great for the past 12 or so years.
    1) Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) – I know many took Tom Six’s meta-gestures are some stupid bid for seriousness. Instead, I see that and this movie as taking responsibility for what he created in the first one. Balls to the wall and nearly unwatchable at a certain point.

    2) High Tension/The Hills Have Eyes: Aja’s my favorite working horror director. In these movies, he gets at the slasher formula, but on steroids with incredible special effects, set design, and acting (Cecile de France now works with the Dardenne Brothers for crissakes).

    3) Maniac: A really fucking scary, aggressive movie. The POV stuff is constantly dynamic. (see also: REC)

    4) The Descent: The spelunking scenes in general are harder to watch than most anything I’ve seen.

    5) Marytrs: Some icky moments, but the conceit follows you long after that bit with the iron mask…

    6) V/H/S: More good stuff with perspective, probably the most creative of the found-footage horror craze (particularly the first segment “Amateur Night”)

    7) Hatchet 2: Insanely fun practical gore effects

    8) August Underground: Penance: The least fun insane practical effects. The closest thing I’ve seen that reminds me of the best moments of Last House on the Left. The levity that they get out of these dumb characters proves cinema to be magical indeed.

    9) Frozen: Really scary situational horror. Completely implausible at times, but fuck, man, who decides to jump off the ski lift?

    10) REC: The attic scene was one of the biggest jumps I’ve had in a long, long time.

    Honorable mention goes to Bug, which is actually more frightening and harder to shake than anything on this list, even if it’s not a horror film perse.

    • tugs1334

      Fuck yes to all of this list! Nice to see a Fred Vogel film on someone’s list btw

      • parsyeb

        I’m not sure that I think Vogel’s a master director, but the 1st and 3rd AU entries are masterpieces.

  • dsxy

    Worst list I have ever come across.

  • Chad Langen

    Wow, I can’t believe you didn’t put The Descent, The Ring (not so much scary but very well crafted), Frailty, The Conjuring or 28 Days Later on the list. The only film I actually agree with is Cabin in the Woods.

    • Dave ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson

      The Conjuring was so damn bland and by-the-book. I simply do not understand the praise lavished upon it.

  • Darnell

    Horrible list…

    28 Days Later, Frailty, VHS, Paranormal Activity 1, The Conjuring, and Insidious shits all over those movies you listed. I think Cabin In The Woods is a horrible movie personally. I am not sure why it gets so much fanfare.

    • FLinga

      YES! Finally. I was starting to feel like the only one who hated Cabin in the Woods. I couldn’t for the life of me see why so many people like it.

      To me it just pushed too far beyond the realm of suspension of disbelief, so it wasn’t scary at all. In fact, I found a lot of it quite boring or just stupid.

  • Maxime C

    I think you wanted bad comments here… picking out 5 movies is too risky to be agreed with !!!
    I think I disagree with most of them, like…Sinister man?? Seriously? And you write for Bloody-Disgusting?? Come on…

  • X

    So… nobody has Serbian Film in their list? That and Human Centipede are the only movies of the last couple of years that really stuck in my head after I saw them. THAT’s what makes a good (horror) film for me.

    • Serbian Film is the most transgressive film released. That should have been on the list, but I suppose some films are a bit much even for this site.

  • Marc D

    Am I the only one around here that really liked Dawn of the dead? This is coming from someone who hates remakes and thinks the original is the best horror movie of all time

    • Nemesis_Pirat

      No, I did too. 🙂

    • amp69

      The remake of Dawn of the Dead is a painfully underrated classic. I would also put Tom Savini’s remake of Night of the Living Dead in the same group.

      • Marc D

        Agreed. Now if only someone can remake the remake of that god awful, Day of the Dead (2008)

        • amp69

          I’ve never seen that remake and based on your statement – I assume that’s a good thing.

  • Porty Guil

    insidiuos? the conjuring? those are the best so far

  • Hmmm… House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Lords of Salem, The Conjuring, The Collector, Hatchet, VHS, The Devil Inside, Cabin Fever, Land of the Dead, High Tension, Dracula 2: Ascension, Mother of Tears.

    The Cabin in the Woods is overrated. I wasn’t impressed with it.

  • Louie P

    A horror fan hating on the ending of Cabin in the Woods?? Wow! That is some absolute pure irony right there. Are people not picking up on the symbolism in that movie? The gods in that film represent the audience watching the horror movies and freaking out from displeasure because the movie strayed from the formula.

    • Christensen

      And when has the audience “freaked out from displeasure” when a horror movie was different? Please. Horror movies that stray away from the “formula” are awarded and praised and always have been. The Cabin in the Woods was not smart, it was garbage. Scientists creating monsters to appease magical gods is not a clever plot or “profound symbolism”. Joss Whedon should go back to writing his “genius” superhero films that totally “stray away from the formula” and are superior than the idiotic horror genre that’s so repetitive and dumb hurr durr. Horror fans who idolize this trash movie are pretentious morons. Sorry.

      • Louie P

        Yes, actually I did respect a movie about an ‘organization’ trying to appease it’s ‘gods’ while trying to avoid the workings of the ‘saboteur.’ The gods were not created by scientists. They have always been there. If, however, you do not appreciate it I would not call you a moron…pseudointellectual pehaps

        • Christensen

          lmao what a pretentious dipshit

          thanks for proving my point!

          • Louie P

            Everything you have said about Cabin in the Woods leads me to believe you actually don’t understand it. There’s nothing wrong with that but to turn around and call people who might actually get it morons is once again irony. I take it back. You’re not a pseudointellectual. You actually seem to revel in stupidity

          • Christensen

            not really. my original comment pretty much proved i got exactly what that shitty movie was “trying” to do. now hop off my dick.

          • Louie P

            The only thing you proved was your arrogance. It’s sad that you have to feel that anyone who likes something you don’t justifies you labeling them a moron. Do yourself a favor. Stick to movies like Paul Blart Mall Cop. Make sure you watch it with a 10 year old so they can explain to you what’s going on so you don’t have to hurt yourself trying to figure it out on your own

          • Christensen

            “Paul Blart Mall Cop” lmfao im screeching. and yeah this is all about me not understanding the deep symbolism and genius analogy that was cabin in the woods, even though i specifically pointed out what that idiotic ending was supposed to symbolize 2 comments ago, and it is definitely not the fans of that movie being pretentious, it is about me not understanding the intelligently superior symbolism of the cabin in the woods ending that literally a mentally challenged 10 year old could figure out & it’s sad that you assume somebody who dislikes something you like “doesn’t get it” and etc. etc. stock online movie discussion reply. anyways… get a life & get some taste.

          • Red Crow

            Well done, Louie.

            I enjoyed reading your calm, well-thought-out rationale in contrast with Christensen’s manic, convoluted troll logic. Always a pleasure watching someone witty deliver a healthy dose of well crafted prose down the throat of yet another pompous internet asshole, spouting off as if anyone actually gave two shits about his opinions cemented in absolute arrogance.

            Well done indeed.

  • FLinga

    I hated cabin in the woods. I thought it was a poorly done homage, that was partly boring and partly too over the top. I zoned in and out and even fast forwarded parts of it.

  • Christopher Pierce

    I am going to concede with everyone about this list being inaccurate, also with those who are not very enthusiastic about Cabin in the Woods (I liked it, but it never really felt like a horror movie to me). I will make my own list:

    1. REC
    2. The Descent
    3. The Conjuring
    4. The Collector
    5. The Hills Have Eyes

    There are many more too, but these are the ones that stand out the most to me.

  • kaido

    When I think of horror films, I think of ones that have actually had the ability to scare me. The only bring, in recent memory, Jeepers Creepers. I have horror movies that I like, don’t get me wrong, but if I had to list five: Jeepers Creepers, You’re Next, Dawn of the Dead, House of the Devil, and Cabin in the Woods.

  • amp69

    1. The Descent

    2. The Conjuring

    3. Insidious

    4. Let The Right One In

    5. Jeepers Creepers/Trick ‘R’ Treat

    Honorable Mentions: You’re Next, The Strangers & Funny Games (both versions)

  • SuperKilla

    1. Tie – Final Destination/Cabin Fever
    2. Saw
    3. High Tension
    4. Imprint
    5. Inside
    Close calls Hatchet and My Bloody Valentine remake. Maybe my list would change tomorrow but that’s how I feel right now.

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