The 20 Scariest Movies Since the Year 2000
Get ready for a fright night.
What’s better than a chilly October evening with a blanket, candy corn, apple cider and a bag of tasty Halloween treats? A scary movie, that’s what. This collection of bloodcurdling 21st century movies are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. What can be more fun than that?
1. Halloween (2018)
Let’s start with this epic slasher film — a sequel to the 1978 original (and the 11th in the series), with Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle reprised in their original roles. Once you see that creepy mask that takes you back in time, the fear starts to grow as you realize Curtis is the sole survivor from the original killing spree. You won’t sleep well after this one!
2. Get Out (2017)
This underground horror classic takes a little time for the plot to develop as the shocking secrets unfold one by one. Both the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review rated it one of the top 10 films of 2017, plus it was nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, with director Jordan Peele taking home a Best Original Screenplay Award.
3. Fantasy Island (2020)
From the producer of Halloween and Get Out comes this adaptation of the classic 1977 television series. It follows a group of people on the infamous island who quickly realize that their fantasies have turned into nightmares of sheer survival, complete with zombified surgeons, drug cartels, grenade explosions and plane shoot-downs. Mostly filmed in Fiji, this creeper will make you think twice about going to an island for your next vacation.
4. A Quiet Place (2018)
Most of the Earth’s population has been wiped out by extraterrestrial creatures who are blind, have hypersensitive hearing and communicate through clicking noises. That’s the premise of this post-apocalyptic flick starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinki, who also directed … and it will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up from start to finish. During filming, the crew avoided making noise so the real sounds recorded on the set could be highly amplified in post production. Be careful what you listen for!
5. The Conjuring (2013)
The first in the Conjuring Universe franchise, this film follows the life of authors / paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), whose work inspired the Amityville Horror series of flicks. Check out the cool score and soundtrack album from composer Joseph Bishara, who also wrote the music to Insidious.
6. Saw (2004)
Okay, there has to be one splatter film in this collection. Directed by James Wan, the first installment in the Saw series centers around a gruesome “Jigsaw Killer” who forces his victims to play evil games in order to survive. For a movie made in 18 days with only one set build (a bathroom), it did spectacularly well, grossing over $1.2 million dollars and becoming a cult classic. (A word of caution: The opening scene sets the tone in the worst of ways.)
7. Shutter Island (2010)
When you combine Martin Scorsese’s brilliance with a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley and Mark Ruffalo, you know you’re off to a great start, whatever the genre. This neo-noir psychological thriller centers around the investigation of a missing patient at a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor. The spooky soundtrack features modern classical music from Mahler, John Cage, Ingram Marshall and Max Richter.
8. Candy Corn (2019)
This horror film takes place on Halloween weekend (what else?) and involves small-town bullies picking on a local kid. When they rough him up outside his traveling carnival trailer, things go way too far. However, with the help of some carnival friends, he rises up in the afterlife to seek revenge. Check out the freaks on the loose in this one.
9. It (2017)
Also called It: Chapter One, this supernatural fantasy is based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name. Hey, any time there are seven kids involved, all living in a small town in Maine, it makes for a good horror plot. There’s plenty of fear and survival to go around as well as stunning visual effects, plus a fabulous score from composer Benjamin Walfisch.
10. Coraline (2009)
This stop-motion animated fantasy features the voice talents of Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Saunders and Teri Hatcher, complemented with a great score by composer Bruno Coulais. The main character, Coraline, discovers an alternate world in a secret door in her house but soon finds out there are dark secrets within. The “Other Mother” scene is particularly disturbing, with screeching doors in the dark, chocolate bugs and a mind-numbingly scary Mom.
11. The Invisible Man (2020)
Architect Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) believes she is being stalked by her wealthy ex-boyfriend. However, since he apparently committed suicide, she’s convinced that he has somehow become invisible. Things take a turn for the worse in the psychiatric hospital where she is remanded and, well, let’s say the creep factor increases with each scene. Inspired by the classic novel written by H.G. Wells.
12. Haunt (2019)
This may be a slasher flick, but it’s one with a few twists and turns. Set on Halloween night, it follows a group of friends who go into a haunted house and get separated, only to encounter a series of ghoulish events that will make your stomach turn. The undulating child-like bells that accompany many of the gruesome goings-on won’t do anything to make you feel better!
13. The Witch (2015)
Subtitled A New England Folktale, this supernatural horror film is set in the 1630s, when the rules of society were not the same as they are now. It follows a Puritan family who have been banished from their colony, with evil things taking place in the woods outside their farm. A witch steals the family’s baby and uses it to create a dark ointment, setting the tone for a scary adventure … and the soundtrack is filled with creepy vocal choirs that make the whole thing even more chilling.
14. Terrifier (2016)
This slasher clown horror film is no laughing matter. Here, an insane clown terrifies a group of three women on Halloween night. There are lots of sharpened tools and deeply uncomfortable moments, augmented by a dark soundtrack from composer Paul Wiley. Art the Clown, who also appeared in the 2013 film All Hallows Eve, stars.
15. Hereditary (2018)
Written and directed by Ari Aster and featuring music by Colin Stetson, this deeply unsettling film follows a family of four through trauma, grief and an uncomfortable family dynamic that turns into a full-blown nightmare. Guaranteed to keep you up all night!
16. Us (2019)
This horror film from director Jordan Peele stars Lupita Nyong’o. When her character wanders into a funhouse off the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk, she’s exposed to a doppelganger of herself. Later in life, her family is exposed to a gang of doppelgangers and the nightmare unfolds. The Luniz song “I Got 5 On It” makes its first appearance here, in a unique and memorable way.
17. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Follow a group of college students to a cabin in the forest and you’re bound to discover creepy engineers in an underground laboratory that are directing zombies and monsters to terrorize them. Of particular note: a gory “down the elevator” scene that’s filled with shock, horror and hard-hitting sound effects.
18. Paranormal Activity (2007)
This, the first in the six-film Paranormal Activity franchise, features a couple being haunted in their own home. It was originally developed as an independent picture for only $15,000, but was later expanded with some additional budgeting. Considering that it has brought in almost $200 million dollars to date, the investment was well worth it!
19. Midsommar (2019)
The premise doesn’t seem very scary at first, but things soon turns macabre as we follow a couple who travel to Sweden to visit a fabled festival that comes around once every 90 years. The only problem is that there’s a violent Scandinavian pagan cult that traumatizes them, and when the psychedelic mushrooms come out, bad trips turn even worse. Check out the cool Nordic-inspired soundtrack composed by electronic musician The Haxan Cloak.
20. The Ring (2002)
This goosebump-raising supernatural horror film has some top-flight visuals and is based on Koji Suzuki’s 1991 book of the same name. It follows journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), who investigates the legend of a cursed videotape where whoever watches it dies seven days later. The moral of the story: Be careful what you watch!
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