The Best of 21st Century Horror Films: Volume 02

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
In Part 01 of this series, we talked about the Best Horror Films of the 21st century, focusing on the sub-genres of
  1. Slow-burn dread, 
  2. Old-school terror and 
  3. Gore fests.

In this post, we will focus on the sub-genres of
  1. Asian horror, 
  2. Chasers,
  3. meta-horror and
  4. Found footage. 

So are you ready to be scared by pale white Asian kids and superfast zombies?

The Best 21st century horror films for your Halloween viewing


Ju-On Grudge

A social worker seeks out the truth behind the deaths that occurred at the house now assigned to her.
Why It Makes the List - A screenplay that is a tad disjointed does not take away from some very scary sequences that would go on to spawn multiple sequels, both in Japanese and English.

Dark Waters

A divorced mom and her daughter move into a seedy apartment. The leaking ceiling is only the start of her problems as she struggles to solve the mystery behind a girl who went missing a year ago in that same building, a girl who is after her own child now.
My two cents - Creepy Asian kid. Jump scares. Slow build-up. Parent-child relationship based storyline. Spooky visuals. Yes, all the hallmarks of a good Asian horror are there.

A Tale of Two Sisters

Two sisters return home from a psychiatric hospital only for strange events to ensue within the house, involving them and their stepmother.
Why It Makes the List - Based on a popular Korean Fairytale (who tells kids horror fairytales, for God's sake!?) Psychological terror. Less gore, more story-based. A good mystery.


A hoax website with strange images as part of a supposed marketing ploy slowly begins to affect the viewers, driving them to despair.
Why It Makes the List - With no blood or gore, Kairo still remains on most lists of best Asian horror. It is truly unsettling and depressing as it focuses on our everyday loneliness in this world, with creepy imagery and a theme that will haunt you long after the final credits roll.


A recent widower stages a fake movie audition with the hope of finding a new bride for himself. He chooses a timid young woman who reciprocates his feelings of affection.
Why It Makes the List - An iconic Japanese horror film, the build up here is brilliant. You know something is not right but you cannot put your finger upon it.


After fleeing following a hit-and-run incident, a photographer begins to find a strange white face appearing in all his photographs.
Why It Makes the List - You think you have figured out the mystery in this Thai classic. But you haven't.


It Follows 

A young girl finds herself being 'slowly chased' by a supernatural creature after she has a curse passed on to her following a sexual encounter.
Why It Makes the List - Wonderfully inventive storyline that is an allegory on sexual diseases. Gorgeous artful visuals. Very creepy 'thing'. Smart horror.

Final Destination

A young school student and his friends avoid a plane crash after he gets a vision of what is to happen to the plane. Unfortunately, death does not appreciate being denied its due.
Why It Makes the List - An original concept after a long time made this unique (until, well, the other 4 sequels). It was innovative and offered plenty of options to showcase death chasing and killing the kids who escaped from it.

Dawn of the Dead

Human survivors live inside a shopping mall, surrounded by zombies.
Why It Makes the List - Excellent remake of the classic film. Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) and writer James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy). From the very creepy first ten minutes, you know this is going to be good.

28 Days Later

A mere 28 days after animal activists free a highly contagious infected chimpanzee from a research lab, society all over the world has collapsed, the virus driving people insane and blood-thirsty.
Why It Makes the List - director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). A refreshing take on a zombie apocalypse with fast zombies and instant conversion from normal to rabid. A good emotional base. 

Drag Me to Hell

A young loan officer makes the mistake of choosing not to extend the mortgage of an old Romanian woman who curses her with rising terror until she is dragged down into hell. Unfortunately for the former, the curse is real and now she needs to find a cure before it is too late.
Why It Makes the List - After the debacle of Spiderman 3, director Sam Raimi had a lot to prove. He did so admirably with this horror classic.

Don't Breathe

3 young thieves decide to rob a blind veteran after finding out he has cash hidden in his house, figuring it is an easy job. Unfortunately for them, the old man has a lot more than cash hidden in there.
Why It Makes the List - Within 30 minutes of the movie, you know this is a masterpiece. Set within a single house, you explore every corner and crevice of the house with the terrified perpetrators. Brilliant cinematography, good twists.

The Strangers

A young couple return home to find three masked people on the premises who proceed to toy with them inside their own house.
Why It Makes the List - Less gore, more psychological terror. Based on a real-life event. Deeply unsettling because it could happen to any of us.


Cabin in the Woods

A group of teenagers retreat to a cabin in the woods where they find a bunch of mysterious objects and a book on witchcraft. Just like in so many basic horror films.
Why It Makes the List - This movie is on my 'Can Re-watch any number of times' list. Drew Goddard directs & Joss Whedon (Avengers) produces from a script co-written by the two of them and it is the best way to play with every single horror cliche you have ever seen in a movie.

Shaun of the Dead

Shaun wakes up after a break-up related hangover to find out his day has just gotten worse - a zombie apocalypse has taken over his city.
Why It Makes the List - British humour meets zombies. It's bloody good fun with Edgar Wright's steady direction ensuring you are never bored.


Following a zombie apocalypse, a college kid travels through Texas to Ohio, finding fellow survivors and fighting off zombies as they search for a sanctuary.
Why It Makes the List - It is a wonderfully hilarious movie. The cast (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone & Abigail Breslin) are in brilliant form. Plus, there's a superb cameo in here too.

What We Do In the Shadows

Four vampires of different generations live together in a flat in Wellington, cooking, (not) doing the dishes and going clubbing/hunting at night. Enuf' said.
Why It Makes the List - It's a mockumentary: Think 'Modern Family' with 3 Phil Dunphy vampires! And it is so damn funny and so darn good that Marvel immediately snagged director Taika Waititi for their next Thor movie.

Trick 'r Treat

In this Halloween themed anthology, four tales interlinked by a mysterious child in a creepy costume come together, each linked by the breaking of a Halloween tradition.
Why It Makes the List - Wonderfully creative, genuinely creepy and even funny at times; a must-watch movie. It is rare to have an anthology movie where all the stories are brilliant.

Found Footage


Six New Yorkers find themselves fleeing from the city after a gigantic alien creature attacks the city.
Why It Makes the List - Producer JJ Abrams and director Matt Reeves = good budget, smart direction. Plenty of hidden easter eggs inside the movie which warrant a second viewing.

The Taking of Deborah Logan

A documentary crew making a film on Alzheimer's disease begins to realize that the patient they are following may suffer from something far worse.
Why It Makes the List - Scary old lady is loco! Why you no run away, camera crew? Why???

The Bay

The residents of a seaside community become the hosts of waterborne parasites that take control of their minds and bodies.
Why It Makes the List - I can't help but feel this could happen! The creature behind 'it' is real and exists amongst us.

Paranormal Activity

A young couple sets up multiple video cameras in their house after they suspect it is haunted.
Why It Makes the List - The one that restarted interest in this genre, it (and perhaps the 3rd part) are still the scariest. Minimal budget means nothing if you can get the audience staring at the screen against their will, waiting for the shoe to drop... or in this case, for the camera to turn back faster and give you a better look. The most profitable film ever made (Return on Investment), earning $193,000,000 while taking $15,000 to make.


An eager news reporter joins the local fire fighters for a routine call to an apartment where an old lady is stuck. Unfortunately, they soon find themselves at the center of a mysterious epidemic and quarantine.
Why It Makes the List - The Spanish and American versions are equally good. The 'locked in a building' meets 'scary creatures' mix works really well here. Plenty of jump scares.

list of the best 21st century horror films focuses on Asian horror, Creatures that chase us, Meta horror and Found Footage.

Phew! Between this list and the first one, there are more than 40 movies that I reckon are the best horror flicks of this century. Did I miss any? What do you think? Do let me know in the comments section.

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Asian Horror: Ringu, Alone, Pee Mak, See Prang (4bia), Ha Phraeng (Phobbia 2), Laddaland, Coming Soon, One Missed Call, Art of Devil 1 2 and 3, The Wig, Bunshinsaba, Dumplings, Audition, Three Extremes, The Eye, Noroi The Curse, Noriko's Dinner Table, The Screen at Kamchanod, Arang, 7500.. Phew that's all I can remember right now! :D Hope you find some that you haven'tw atched.

    Found Footage: The Blair Witch Project, Trollhunter, As Above So Below, VHS, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Grave Encounters.

    Well, I haven't watched Don't Breathe yet. Waiting for bluray release :p

    1. Thanks a lot :) You just gave me an awesome grocery list to hunt for :D

  2. I've watched Paranormal Activity and Final Destination. There are some interesting titles on this list. Will hunt a few down.

    Modern Gypsy

  3. Final Destination and Shutter. Both were scary. And ever since I watched the former, I've been super careful with things. As if you don't know in which way fatal accidents would come. :(
    Awesome list again. I think, I will watch a few from this one. Well, may not. :P

    1. Hahaha :)
      That's something many friends discussed after watching Final Destination!

  4. Oh gosh, these were scary even to ready! Eeek ! Happy Halloween #anythinggoes

  5. Now after reading two big lists of horror movies, I am scared already! Will be sharing these with my roommate! She is a horror movie freak :P

  6. Some of my faves are on this and list 1. Also a few I haven't seen that I now must see! Great list, thanks :)
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes :)

  7. I don't like horror movies because they scare me, but I saw a few of these and they are scary.

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