The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far

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In the early 00s, J-horror was big news and Hollywood was quick to catch on, with studios greenlighting remakes of everything that had been even mildly successful in Asia withCW-friendly casts. For the most part, the results of movies like Pulse, The Grudge, The Eye and One Missed Call were disastrous, but the first of the batch, The Ring, was against the odds excellent. Directed by a pre-Pirates of the CaribbeanGore Verbinski, the film follows roughly the same plot as the original, with a journalist and single mother (Naomi Watts, whod just broken out in Mulholland Drive) discovering that her niece has died a mysterious death, her body frozen in a position of horror. Digging into the case, she finds that the death may have been linked to the urban legend of a mysterious video tape that causes the death of anyone who watches it after seven days. Its probably not superior to the 1998 original as such, but Verbinski retains much of what worked aboutHideo Nakatas film, and beautifully amps up the atmosphere, with an almost painterly feel to the photography byBojan Bazelli, and a halting, jolting score byHans Zimmer. And though the shock of the films ending was probably lessened for those whod seen the original, those coming to the remake fresh almost certainly never forgot it.

So, during a break from making our costumes for the annual Playlist Halloween party (popular choices this year:the Babadook,Kevin Feige, Alexander from Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, box-office receipts for Sin City 2, a GamerGater), weve been considering the state of recent horror.

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When you think of movies premiering at the Cannes, chances are you dont think about supernatural teens-in-jeopardy chillers, but this year It Follows debuted in the Critics Week sidebar and by all accounts managed to be one of the highlights. As directed byDavid Robert Mitchell(Myth of the American Sleepover), It Follows is many things its a fairly on-the-nose metaphor for the dangers of promiscuity, a superb modern campfire tale, and a loose imagining of what would happen if the cast of The Breakfast Club banded together to fight a horrifying otherworldly evil. It is also scary as hell. Mitchell captures the action in a series of queasy long takes, a welcome reprieve from the quick-cutting assault that helped define the torture porn slate of films, so the viewer is waiting for something terrible to happen instead of being bludgeoned with it; its artful and eerie at the same time. The mythology that Mitchell sets up makes a whimsical kind of sense (hopefully it will be left mercifully unexplored, should sequels be in the cards) andMaika Monroe(who starred in another killer genre film from this year, The Guest) is one of the most compelling female horror icons sinceJamie Lee Curtisin Halloween. She is a girl whose fumbling one night stand ends up haunting her literally.

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Were now fifteen years into the new millennium, and while the horror genre is as ever responsible for more dross than most, its also been an exciting time for scary movie fans, with a new wave of filmmakers emerging from all around the world with smart new takes on how to make you scream. So after much deliberation/arguing, weve picked out the 25 best horror films since the turn of the century. Take a look at our picks below, and let us know your picks in the comments.

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British directorPeter Stricklandmade a hell of a debut with his first film, the Hungarian-language drama Katalin Varga, but it went severely underseen, despite winning awards at the Berlin Film Festival. The result was that Berberian Sound Studio, his horror-tinged follow-up, was very much under-the-radar when it arrived, but the film successfully broke open the skulls of pretty much everyone that saw it. Influenced by bothDavid Lynchand classicgiallohorror, the film starred the greatToby Jonesas Gilderoy, a sound engineer who travels to Italy to work on a horror picture called The Equestrian Vortex (the films director takes exception at calling it a horror film: one imagines Strickland might say the same). Gilderoy begins his meticulous work but finds himself rapidly unraveling. Its in part a horror film about the effect of horror films, and that we barely see anything of the film-within-the-film only lets your imagination play havoc with the unpleasant squelches and screams that are being created by the sonic wizard (and Jones is absolutely terrific in the part). Pure genre fans might come away disappointed with the lack of jump-scares or actual gore, but this is a truer kind of horror, one that reaches in and shakes your skeleton through your ears.

By the pricking of my thumbs, a holiday-themed listfeaturethis way comes. Yep, All Hallows Eve is almost upon us, and while the temptation to do some kind of Before I Go To Sleep-themed feature was a great one, we thought we should put together something appropriately spooky to get you in the mood for tomorrow nights festivities.

Check out IndieWires newest list of best horror films of the 21st century!

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Dark Castle Entertainment, the genre production arm formed by Tales from the Crypt principalsJoel Silver, Robert ZemeckisandGilbert Adler, started off by making above-average remakes of films originally produced by the king of gimmicky thrillersWilliam Castle. Eventually, the studio started to produce different types of films, and Orphan, an original chiller co-produced byLeonardo DiCaprio, might be the companys very best film. Helmed by Spanish stylistJaume Collet-Serra, the film is an endlessly fascinating take on the evil child horror sub-genre, this time centered around a young couple (played byVera FarmigaandPeter Sarsgaard) who, following the stillborn birth of their third child, decide to adopt an odd Russian girl named Esther (a hauntingIsabelle Fuhrman). At 123 minutes, the movie is a decidedly slow burn, but it ramps up to a rare (and essentially unguessable) twist that doesnt totally discredit the rest of the movie. Instead, it makes the climax, set in Connecticut but turned, thanks toJeff Cutters chilly cinematography, into a snowy world more reminiscent of the ice planet Hoth, even more powerful and perverse. Even if youre not a fan of this particular genre sub-set, its hard to argue with the effective and stylistic verve of Orphan. And even before the twist blows your mind, chances are youll already be shaken up.

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22. It Follows (2014)

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The actress and director both love the genre, but as they told IndieWire, they also knew it needed to be retrofitted to tell the true story of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull.

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If the namesAdam WingardandSimon Barrettarent familiar, then you should bookmark their IMDB pages. On the strength of this clever, funny, subversive home invasion movie and their latest The Guest, which sadly all but disappeared from theaters due to stiff competition in a very crowded market, theyre two upstart genre filmmakers whose careers youll want to follow. Without question what they do next is an exciting prospect (a remake of the excellent I Saw the Devil, the Korean revenge film to end all Korean revenge films, was recently announced), but for now we have Youre Next, currently available to stream onNetflix.. Its a thrill ride, a reminder of when horror films were fun, and almost never disappoints. It stars a rogues gallery of former mumblecore elites and current/past indie mainstays Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, AJ Bowan, Kate Lyn Sheil, Larry Fessendenall upstaged by the films MVP,Sharni Vinson, who takes what must have already been a great character on the page and infuses it with humor, bloodlust and urgency. Well leave it for you to discover what were getting at, because Youre Next works best when characters turn the tables and expectations are upended.

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The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far

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21. Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

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The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far

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