The Descent (2006)
Six women go cave exploring and find their journey beneath stalled when a cave-in traps them. The trouble worsens when they learn that not only are they in an unexplored cave but there may something else to fear. Neil Marshall wrote and directed this intense and tension-filled thriller that terrified its audience with its claustrophobic setting and dynamic mostly female cast.
A Spanish news crew follows a team of firefighters on a routine call only to discover that the apartment building they enter is soon quarantined, and they are now trapped. One of many films that use found footage style, this one stands apart with its terrifying plot and efficient use of confusion and fear brought about by the reactions caught on camera. Followed by many sequels and, an American remake titled Quarantine that had its follow-up sequels.
Let the Right One In (2008)
A young preteen boy who is bullied by his classmates befriends a young girl who has a secret she shares when they bond as friends. This new friendship gives him the confidence to face his bullies and to learn what love can mean despite her secret. Based on a novel, the film would be remade in the US and is one of the few remakes that stands on its own.
Columbus is a young man trying to survive a zombie apocalypse as he details his rules for making it through and thriving when faced by an army of the walking dead. Along the way, he teams up with a group of survivors who have to work together as they try to find a rumored safe zone. The great ensemble cast and buddy comedy theme set this film apart from other zombie movies while still retaining some terrifying zombie moments.
A troubled physician wakes up in an abandoned restroom not knowing how or why he is there. As he finds clues around him, he is confronted by his demons as well as well his captor who seems to be adept at creating dangerous puzzles and challenges. James Wan would direct the first film of this intense series and like many horror franchises the first film is usually the best. Saw would be one of many films in the modern torture porn genre of horror lore to be released in the 2000s.
28 Days Later (2002)
A coma patient wakes up to find that the city has been overrun by a virus that results in crazed behavior. After being chased by infected groups, he then finds some survivors as they try to make their way toward a sanctuary. Danny Boyle directed this film, and its success helped reinvigorate the zombie movie.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
As the zombie outbreak is being handled with assistance from the US military, a group of survivors try to make it to a safe zone before they get overwhelmed by an ever-increasing number of crazed newly infected zombies. Robert Carlyle would star in this sequel that complemented the original with Danny Boyle serving as Executive Producer.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
A remake of the George Romeo’s 1978 horror classic, a group of strangers seeks refuge in a shopping mall when they are faced with swarms of athletic zombies. Director Zack Snyder would win praise for this worthy remake that followed the original premise yet set itself apart in its way.
A journalist looks into a mysterious videotape after the death of her niece and some of her friends. She discovers that watching the tape will result in your imminent death after receiving a mysterious phone call. A remake of a 1998 Japanese film, The Ring would help usher the way for some Japanese inspired remakes such as The Grudge, Pulse, and Dark Water.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
A group of British army reservists find themselves trapped in a small farmhouse and attacked by werewolves while they are on a weekend training retreat. Despite their training and firepower, they find themselves stalked one at a time by the pack of wolves. Written and directed by Neil Marshall, this film while set in Scottland was filmed in Luxembourg.
Girl Next Door (2007)
A pair of young girls is sent to stay with an aunt after their parents are killed in a car crash. The eldest daughter soon faces abuse from her aunt and her relatives while neighborhood kids are encouraged to participate in humiliating her. What happens next is too disturbing to speak of or witness. Based on actual events Director Gregory Wilson took Jack Ketchum’s disturbing novel and put together a film that will stand out as one of the most disturbing films of the past decade.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Christine has a great life, wonderful boyfriend and a career she enjoys, all that comes crashing down when she insults an old woman after denying her assistance on a home loan. A curse is cast on her, and her soul is doomed for eternity. Nothing good can come when you insult an old lady, and Sam Raimi’s unique blend of horror and comedy make for an original and memorable tale.
Let Me In (2010)
A remake of the Swedish film Let the Right One In follows the story of the original movie fairly close and is an excellent film in its right. This film is set in New Mexico and directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves.
Wolf Creek (2005)
A group of backpackers traveling in the Australian outback is stalked and captured by a psychotic killer who preys on travelers. This intense thriller inspired by real-life murders used the remote setting to add an element of helplessness to go along with the fear experienced by the hapless victims.
A monster attack on New York City is seen through the shaky video camera of a group of friends who flee the city and face threats from the creature as it tears through the city. Matt Reeves directs this found footage film that made excellent use of viral marketing to play up the fear as we see the events unfold before seeing the creature entirely.
Session 9 (2001)
A hazmat team is charged with cleaning an abandoned sanitarium. During the week-long job, one of the crew finds a collection of audio tapes that reveal some truly disturbing events. Directed by Brad Anderson, Session 9 was shot in a portion of an abandoned State Asylum adding to the genuine atmosphere.
After being imprisoned by an unknown group, a young woman and her friend seek out clues to the mysterious family who tortured and abused her. Martyrs was part of the New French Extremity movement that featured extreme violence, sex, and psychological issues.
House of the Devil (2009)
A college student eager for extra cash takes a babysitting job in a remote house only to learn her employers are not honest about why she is there. Director Ti West combined the haunted house and slasher genres popular in the late seventies in this film and directed it so that it resembled a movie from that era. House of the Devil is one of the unique horror films of the decade with its retro style that pays homage to films like Halloween and When a Stranger Calls.
Dead Snow (2009)
A group of students on holiday encounter an army of Nazi zombies in the mountains of Norway and fight to escape. Combine zombies and Nazi’s may not be original, but this film mixes bloody terror with a fair amount of campy humor to deliver an exciting and unique play on the zombie theme. Followed by a sequel that would amp up the camp along with the gore.
High Tension (2003)
A trip home for a young woman and her friend turns into a horrific journey for survival as they are stalked by a deranged serial killer who leaves a trail of bloody corpses in the French countryside. Directed by Alexandre Aja, High Tension would stand out for its extreme violence and be one of many French films featuring such intense direction.