- What Lies Beneath-(2000) More of a thriller than horror, but there are some real scares as well as some terrifying images, along with a killer performance by Harrison Ford.
- Dog Soldiers-(2002) I guess this would have to go down as the best werewolf movie after “An American Werewolf in London”. There is gore, humor, and more gore, with a lot of practical wolf effects, plus adding the “Aliens” element of soldiers that don’t know what their up against but fight anyway it’s just an all around bad-ass flick.
- The Ring-(2002) While this film marked the beginning of American remakes of Asian horror, it’s still the best due mostly to the incredible directing of Gore Verbinski. Put that together with a cool concept and the high caliber acting of Naomi Watts, the level of terror is taken up a few notches. And never watch the sequel.
- High Tension-(2003) This French thriller/slasher film is as intense as it is shocking. With gruesome kills and a crazy ending this one is worth seeing if you are any kind of a fan of horror.
- The Descent-(2005) This film manages to unnerve you with its claustrophobic setting and terrifies with the creepy things coming for you in the dark. It also does nothing but get better as it goes on, all the way up until the brutal, bloody ending.
- The Devil’s Rejects-(2005) This I would have to consider the best of this list over all. Director Rob Zombie found a way to transcend the genre by blending it with a mix of humor and uncomfortable moments, not with cave monsters, aliens, or vampires, but with human beings who are capable of true evil. Everything about this film feels perfect, from the soundtrack, the setting, the tone, to the ending, oh man, that ending. This is truly a remarkable film. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it before or since.
- Slither-(2006) Before he joined the Marvel elite with his super fun “The Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn delved into the horror genre with a remake of the 80’s classic “Night of the Creeps”. Not trying to improve on the schlocky original, Gunn went another direction changing the story and focusing on the gore and humor of slugs from another planet who turn local townsfolk into zombies. With great gross-out moments and the always entertaining Nathan Fillion this is a the fun horror that deserves to be seen.
- Trick ‘r Treat-(2007) In the vein of “Creepshow” and in my opinion the best since then “Trick ‘r Treat” is a must watch on Halloween every year. As always the right mix of horror and humor help this little seen gem rise to be a cult classic and is well deserved as go through four stories with creepy little Sam as he stalks a neighborhood of people not following the rules of Halloween and punishing them good and proper.
- The Mist-(2007) This one made the list mainly for the final minutes alone. Though the bulk of it is eerie in the grocery store with an epic-sized crazy lady that only Stephen King can create and only Marcia Gay Harden can play. Oh yeah and there’s monsters. Lots and lots of monsters, doing monstrous things, just not as bad as the things the humans do.
- Let the Right One In-(2008) Being the only vampire movie on this list, this Swedish horror film must be the best use of vampires of this new century. Though most people will enjoy the American remake “Let Me In” which I will admit is fantastic, as they say nothing beats the original, especially the climax in the public swimming pool which is now one of my favorite horror moments of all time.
- You’re Next-(2011) Hitting that nostalgia button just right, Adam Wingard brings us a slasher film with a fun twist, and a little bit more, all the while showing clever kills and giving us that tension I thought was all but lost on these kinds of films.
- The Cabin in the Woods-(2012) Further proof that Joss Whedon can’t just write a typical horror movie. The generic title leads one to believe we will see things we have before, but then not only do we get everything and the kitchen sink, we get the whole neighborhood. It may go a little too far at the end, but just before that Whedon and director Drew Goddard go further than any film before it and it totally works.
- Sinister-(2012) From the opening terrifying silent home super 8 of a murder of a family this atmospheric brilliant take on the boogeyman keeps you on edge as Ethan Hawke discovers one terrifying film after another. The choice to never leave the house as the terror escalates gives that claustrophobic feel to a slightly typical ending, but it’s the journey on this one that makes it worth a watch.
- The Babadook-(2014) If there was ever a cinematic version of birth control it’s “The Babadook”. Director Jennifer Kent blends perfectly the exhaustion of raising a difficult child and the sense that you may be going crazy because of it. Add to that a storybook monster that also may or may not be all in your head, this is a equally terrifying and entertaining film.
- It Follows-(2015) If “The Babadook” is cinematic birth control, “It Follows” is a cinematic plea for abstinence. As it shows a new reason why teens should not be having sex. Though also how growing up can be equally frightening as an evil thing that follows you, be it time or creepy naked old man. I loved the 80’s feel of this one, the music, the clothes, the dumb decisions made by scared kids. But the final solution and unique take on a tired trope pushes this film near the top of the list of films of the first 15 years of the new century.
Honorable Mentions: Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), 28 Days Later, Saw, The Host, Grindhouse, The Orphanage, Drag Me to Hell, Splice, Triangle, Black Swan, Insidious, Let Me In, The Conjuring, V/H/S
–Robert L. Castillo