50 Best "Scary" Movies of the 21st Century

With Halloween around the corner, here's some movies that'll help get you in the mood!

By Emil Tiedemann

It's that time of the year again, when pumpkins get carved into shitty hockey logos, kids go out in culturally appropriate costumes and beg for candy from complete strangers, and when their parents dress up as zombies and roam the night streets looking for fresh brains. Yep, it's Halloween time, folks!


28 Days Later (2002).

I've always loved Halloween, but then again what kid doesn't! Even as an adult there's always been something about this time of year that makes me giddy. It's the well-thought-out costumes, the tacky decorations, the haunted houses, and all the chocolate your frail heart can handle. My favourite part of Halloween, however, has to be the scary movies that come out in theatres and fill up TV schedules as soon as summer comes to an end. 

It doesn't exactly make much sense when you think about it but most of us seem to enjoy getting the shit scared out of us at the movies, knowing very well that even after the movie ends, it just might - if done right - keep us awake at night, worrying about what's under the bed or just out of sight. But we still watch them despite. 

It (2017).

So, with that in mind, I wanted to put together my own personal list of what I believe are the best so-called "scary" movies that I've seen this century so far (since 2000), and hope that you'll check them out for yourself this Halloween season. 

However, this list does not necessarily mean the "scariest" movies or the best "horror" films. I'm talking about movies that truly put the effort in, focusing on a decent script, impressive acting and directing, and the ability to make us jump out of our seats, figuratively or literally. Feel free to let me know what you think of my choices, perhaps if you think that I have omitted any you feel belong on this list.

The films I have listed below may not necessarily be designated "horror" features (i.e. Under the Skin, Green Room) but that's alright, because there are plenty of sci-fi and thriller movies out there that have the same fear factor as the ones with ghosts, zombies, demons, or Donald Trump. However, I've excluded the comedy-horror subgenre, so you won't find goodies like Shaun of the Dead, Warm Bodies*, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil*, Housebound, Zombieland*, or What We Do in the Shadows* on this list (though I highly recommend you see all of these!).

So, here we go, in alphabetical order: 


*available on Netflix Canada
**Rotten Tomatoes rating are as of publication 


The Babadook (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes** Rating: 98%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A widowed mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her." Director: Jennifer Kent. Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, and Daniel Henshall.

The Babadook
 
Bodom (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Every camper's worst nightmare came true at Lake Bodom in 1960 when four teenagers were stabbed to death while sleeping in their tent." Director: Taneli Mustonen. Starring: Nelly Hirst-Gee, Mimosa Willamo, and Mikael Gabriel.
 
Bodom


The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods." Director: Drew Goddard. Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, and Anna Hutchison.

The Cabin in the Woods
 
The Conjuring (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse." Director: James Wan. Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Ron Livingston.

The Conjuring
 
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall." Director: Zack Snyder. Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Mekhi Phifer.

Dawn of the Dead
   
The Descent (2005)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators." Director: Neil Marshall. Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mandoza, and Alex Reid. 

The Descent
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Don't Breathe (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems." Director: Fede Alvarez. Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, and Dylan Minnette.

Don't Breathe
 
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point." Director: Sam Raimi. Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, and Ruth Livier.

Drag Me to Hell
 
Eden Lake (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences." Director: James Watkins. Starring: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, and Tara Ellis.

Eden Lake
 
Emelie (2015)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A couple's replacement babysitter turns out to be more than they bargained for when she subjects their kids to a series of twisted activities." Director: Michael Thelin. Starring: Sarah Bolger, Carly Adams, and Elisha Ali.
 
Emelie


Evil Dead (2013)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 62%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods." Director: Fede Alvarez. Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jessica Lucas.

Evil Dead
 
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Watch Trailer HERE

"In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire." Director: Ana Lily Amirpour. Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, and Marshall Manesh.
 
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night


Get Out (2017)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Watch Trailer HERE

"It's time for a young African American to meet with his white girlfriend's parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience will give way to a nightmare." Director: Jordan Peele. Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford.

Get Out

Goodnight Mommy (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don't recognize." Director: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz. Starring: Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, and Susanne Wuest. 

Goodnight Mommy

Green Room (2015)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Watch Trailer HERE
"A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar." Director: Jeremy Saulnier. Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, and Alia Shawkat.
 
Green Room
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High Tension (2003) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror." Director: Alexandre Aja. Starring: Cecile De France, Maiwenn, and Philippe Nahon.

High Tension
 
The Host (2006)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches." Director: Joon-ho Bong. Starring: Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, and Hae-il Park. 
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The Host
  
The House of the Devil (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86% 
Watch Trailer HERE

"In 1983, financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger." Director: Ti West. Starring: Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, and Mary Woronov.

The House of the Devil

Hush (2016)* 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window." Director: Mike Flanagan. Starring: John Gallagher, Jr., Kate Siegel, and Michael Trucco.

Hush
 
Inside (À l'intérieur) (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Four months after the death of her husband, a woman on the brink of motherhood is tormented in her home by a strange woman who wants her unborn baby." Director: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. Starring: Alysson Paradis, Jean-Baptiste Tabourin, and Claude Lule.
 
Inside


The Invitation (2015)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Watch Trailer HERE

"While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests." Director: Karyn Kusama. Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Michiel Huisman.

The Invitation
 
I Saw the Devil (2010)* 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases." Director: Jee-woon Kim. Starring: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, and Joon-hyeok Lee.

I Saw the Devil
   
It (2017) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children." Director: Andy Muschietti. Starring: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, and Finn Wolfhard.

It
 
It Follows (2015)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter." Director: David Robert Mitchell. Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, and Olivia Luccardi.

It Follows
 
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A
Watch Trailer HERE

"A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides." Director: Takashi Shimizu. Starring: Megumi Okina, Misaki Ito, and Misa Uehara. 

Ju-on: The Grudge

  Kill List (2011)  
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness." Director: Ben Wheatley. Starring: Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, and Harry Simpson.

Kill List
 
Last Shift (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A rookie cop's 1st shift alone in the last night of a closing police station turns into a living nightmare." Director: Anthony DiBlasi. Starring: Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, and Hank Stone.
 
Last Shift

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Let the Right One In (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl." Director: Tomas Alfredson. Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, and Per Ragnar.

Let the Right One In

The Loved Ones (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Watch Trailer HERE

"When Brent turns down his classmate Lola's invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge." Director: Sean Byrne. Starring: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, and Victoria Thaine. 
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The Loved Ones

The Mist (2007) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives." Director: Frank Darabont. Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laurie Holden.

The Mist
 
Oculus (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon." Director: Mike Flanagan. Starring: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, and Katee Sackhoff.
 
Oculus


The Orphanage (2007) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend." Director: J.A. Bayona. Starring: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo, and Roger Princep.

The Orphanage
 
The Others (2001)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that her family home is haunted." Director: Alejandro Amenabar. Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, and Fionnula Flanagan.

The Others
 
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 82%
Watch Trailer HERE

"In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home." Director: Mike Flanagan. Starring: Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu Wilson, and Annalise Basso.

Ouija: Origin of Evil
 
  Paranormal Activity (2007) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Watch Trailer HERE

"After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence." Director: Oren Peli. Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, and Mark Fredrichs.

Paranormal Activity
 
The Presence (Die Präsenz) (2014)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: N/A
Watch Trailer HERE

"Markus spends some time with his girlfriend Rebecca and friend Lukas in Hohnau castle which is uninhabited and supposed to be haunted. For two of them it's the last days of their lives." Director: Daniele Grieco. Starring: Liv Lisa Fries, Matthias Dietrich, and Henning Nohren.

The Presence

Quarantine 2: Terminal (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A plane is taken over by a mysterious virus. When the plane lands it is placed under quarantine. Now a group of survivors must band together to survive the quarantine." Director: John Pogue. Starring: Mercedes Mason, Josh Cooke, and Mattie Liptak. 

Quarantine 2: Terminal

 [REC] (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying." Director: Jaume Balaguero. Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, and Jorge-Yamam Serrano.

[REC]
 
The Ring (2002) 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 71%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it." Director: Gore Verbinski. Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, and Brian Cox.

The Ring
 
Seoul Station (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Several groups of people try to survive a zombie pandemic that unleashes itself in downtown Seoul." Director: Sang-ho Yeon. Starring: Seung-ryong Ryu, Franciska Friede, and Joon Lee.
 
Seoul Station


Sinister (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 63%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s." Director: Scott Derrickson. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, and James Ransone. 

Sinister
 
The Strangers (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants." Director: Bryan Bertino. Starring: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, and Gemma Ward.

The Strangers
 
Train to Busan (2016)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Watch Trailer HERE

"While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan." Director: Sang-ho Yeon. Starring: Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, and Dong-seok Ma.

Train to Busan
 
28 Days Later (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary." Director: Danny Boyle. Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, and Christopher Eccleston.

28 Days Later
 
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 70%
Watch Trailer HERE

"Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan." Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, and Robert Carlyle.

28 Weeks Later
 
Under the Shadow (2016)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Watch Trailer HERE

"As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran of the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home." Director: Babak Anvari. Starring: Narges Rashidi, Avin Manshadi, and Bobby Naderi. 
j
Under the Shadow
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  Under the Skin (2013)* 
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A mysterious young woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery." Director: Jonathan Glazer. Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, and Lynsey Taylor Mackay.

Under the Skin
 
The Wailing (2016)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Watch Trailer HERE

"A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter." Director: Hong-jin Na. Starring: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, and Do-won Kwak.

The Wailing
 
We Are What We Are (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Watch Trailer HERE

"The Parkers, a reclusive family who follow ancient customs, find their secret existence threatened as a torrential downpour moves into their area, forcing daughters Iris and Rose to assume responsibilities beyond those of a typical family." Director: Jim Mickle. Starring: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, and Julia Garner.

We Are What We Are

The Witch (2015)*
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Watch Trailer HERE 

 "A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession." Director: Robert Eggers. Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, and Kate Dickie.
 
The Witch

"And of course, because I just had to, here are some HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Can Evrenol's Baskin (2016), Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone (2001), James Wan's Insidious (2010), Trey Edward Shults' It Comes at Night (2017), and Jee-woon Kim's A Tale of Two Sisters (2003).

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