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10 underrated horror films from the 2000s

The 2000s were an innovative, but underrated time for horror movies. As the genre began dabbling in found-footage flicks, remakes of foreign hits, and newly dubbed “torture porn,” the industry found itself experimenting with shocking, but profitable scary movies before the rise of arthouse horror in the 2010s.

Even so, quite a handful of films from this decade have still been sorely overlooked and not given enough praise. So, as the world continues to embrace horror more and more, audiences should revisit these movies from the 2000s.

Cloverfield (2008)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Even though there was considerable hype leading up to this found-footage monster movie, Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams’s Cloverfield seems to have been all but overlooked by audiences today. It’s a thrilling film about a group of twentysomethings trying to survive an attack by a gigantic creature that suddenly appears in New York.

The shaky camerawork may have been too much for some audiences to handle in theaters, but it’s still a gripping and realistic blockbuster that puts a whole new spin on classic monster films like Godzilla and King Kong.

Let the Right One In (2008)

EFTI

At a time when vampires saturated media with glossy franchises like Twilight and True Blood, this Swedish horror film gave a fresh, but classical vision of the bloodsucking creature. Let the Right One In follows a 12-year-old boy tormented by bullies who meets a vampire masquerading as a girl his age.

What starts out as a boy seeking a childhood crush evolves into a dark and gruesome tale about two lonely souls out for blood who find what they need in each other, making for one of the most unusual, but beautiful vampire stories out there.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Drag Me To Hell
Universal Pictures

Written and directed by The Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi, this film follows a bank loan officer who finds herself cursed by an old woman after refusing to extend her mortgage. She is then given three days of unending torture to break the hex before she gets sent to Hell for all eternity.

Similar to the Evil Dead movies, Drag Me to Hell blends horror and slapstick comedy to give viewers plenty of shocking and over-the-top scares to enjoy. It also features one of the most unforgettable film endings in modern horror history, one that will send viewers’ jaws right down to… well, you know the rest.

The Descent (2005)

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A year after her husband and daughter die in a car accident, a young woman goes spelunking in a cave with her friends, only to get trapped inside with a horde of monstrous “crawlers.” The success of this film was hampered by how the U.S. cut out its real, depressing ending.

Despite this, The Descent gained a cult following for its thrilling scares, claustrophobic setting, and realistic performances. It deserves to be unearthed from the pit of relative obscurity.

Memories of Murder (2003)

Park Doo-Man in "Memories of Murder."
CJ Entertainment

Long before Bong Joon-ho broke cinematic barriers with Parasite, the director jump-started his career with this film inspired by South Korea’s first known string of serial murders. Memories of Murder follows a pair of detectives investigating a series of horrific slayings who resort to extreme and unjust methods with their few resources available to get answers.

Like many of Bong’s other films, this film is a dark, but satirical exploration of humanity and how it seeks justice, even if it isn’t real. Thus, it shows how evil can hide and thrive in the chaotic normalcy of everyday life, as encapsulated by its harrowing final shot.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Sarah Polley in "Dawn of the Dead" (2004).
Universal Pictures / Universal Pictures

A remake of the classic movie of the same name, Dawn of the Dead follows a group of people who try to survive a zombie apocalypse by hiding in an abandoned shopping mall.

Despite comparisons to George A. Romero’s original film, this modern interpretation is a unique and action-packed thrill ride that captures the chaos of the apocalypse. With Zack Snyder as director, a screenplay by James Gunn, and Sarah Polley as the lead, this zombie film is a modern gem that should not be left in the grave.

2002’s Cabin Fever

Three men look terrified in Cabin Fever.
Cabin Fever Lionsgate

Hostel director Eli Roth first broke out into the film industry with this indie hit. There is the classic setup of five teens vacationing in a cabin in the woods, but the movie unleashes an unusual threat in the form of a flesh-eating virus that latches onto everyone it touches. Paying homage to low-budget classics like The Evil Dead and Night of the Living Dead, Cabin Fever is a gory and unyielding bloodbath that should satisfy die-hard horror fans.

Rec

Rec
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This Spanish horror film follows a reporter who finds herself trapped in an apartment building in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Though this may seem like just another found-footage film, Rec is an exceptionally terrifying experience due to its claustrophobic setting, shaky camerawork, and frightening visuals.

It also puts a unique spin on the genre by having the zombie virus actually be a form of demonic possession, making the movie even more like a journey up and down the circles of Hell itself.

Slither (2006)

The mutated Grant in "Slither."
Universal

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s James Gunn made his debut as a director with this comedic homage to horror. When an alien parasite crash-lands on Earth and infects someone, an entire Southern town becomes the victim of its horrible quest to assimilate all life on the planet.

Slither may not be Gunn’s best work, but it still presents an entertaining film with a comedic and heartfelt story and many tributes to classic scary movies that fans of the genre can enjoy and appreciate.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger with blood on her lips in "Ginger Snaps."

This Canadian cult classic follows a death-obsessed teenage girl who gets bitten by a werewolf, and her sister’s desperate attempts to stop her primal rampage. It’s a bizarre, but insightful study of two characters who fear adolescence and see themselves torn apart by the ravages of adolescence (oh, and werewolves).

In the years since its limited release, Ginger Snaps has been lauded for his supernatural analysis of womanhood and the terrors of female puberty. It even spawned its own trilogy, which shows that this film has bark and bite.

Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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