What is the Best Horror Movie of the 21st Century? An In-Depth Look Into Critical and Audience Ratings
Hello all. Mark here.
If you’ve been reading MFF for sometime you know that we love writing and podcasting about horror (we recorded a podcast specifically for this post where I break down the research and talk about Kurt Russell. You can listen to it on Itunes or Blog Talk Radio). We’ve written and talked about horror wardrobes, tank tops, survivors, villains, monsters, gore, zombie survivors, trolls, 1999 horror and the best moments. I recently wrote an article about the exciting horror hybrids that have been unleashed in the last several years. When I finished up the article I saw a fantastically researched Reddit post where somebody combined the Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Metacritic scores to reevaluate the Top 245 Films of all time. It got me thinking about a 21st century horror ranking system involving critics AND audiences.
It is an exciting time to be a horror fan and I am going back to 2000 in order to figure out what is the best “horror” film of this century. The reason I put horror in quotation marks is because the genre covers an all expansive collection of blood, dark humor and gore. For instance, my top five of the century are:
- The Descent
- Drag Me To Hell
- I Saw the Devil
- 28 Days Later
Gotta love those subterranean killing machines.
It is an odd collection of hybrids that fall into the “horror” genre via themes of serial killers, rampaging demon goats and soul sucking vampires. Roger Ebert summed up the Thirst director perfectly with this quote:
Park Chan-wook of South Korea is today’s most successful director of horror films, perhaps because there’s always more than horror to them.
If you are worried about the data analysis, my data wrangling cousin and I once compiled fourteen years of action movie posters (256 total) and analyzed if explosions on movie posters mattered or not (not really, but it was cool). I also examined Jason Statham posters and have a pretty good idea of when his movies will be good judging by the poster.
If an effort to collect a varied collection of films I sorted through hundreds of movies and pulled together 160 “horror” films and broke down the data for each (click the link to see my data in glorious PDF form). Below you will find four categories comprised of accumulative, critic, audience and horror aficionado ratings.
These rating work differently from the one on reddit because I’ve added Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic audience scores. Horror is such a cult genre I felt it was important to add horror specific sites and audience ratings to the mix. I gave the same weight to critic and user ratings despite there being more users. Critics can push the agenda so their fewer ratings get equal weight. Also, the Reddit post out kept out films with under 75,000 votes on IMDb. Since this is about 21st century horror films I didn’t take the number of ratings into account.
If you are interested in watching any of these films I searched through Amazon/Netflix and put together a list of films available for streaming.
Top 20 Critically Rated Horror films according to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic Critics
- Pans Labyrinth (96.5)
- The Babadook (92)
- Let the Right One In (90)
- It Follows (89.5)
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (88.5)
- The Host (88.5)
- Drag Me To Hell (87.5)
- Housebound (86.5)
- Trick r’ Treat (86)
- What We Do in the Shadows (85.5)
- The Devil’s Backbone (85)
- Shaun of the Dead (84)
- Let Me In (83.5)
- Battle Royale (83.5)
- Black Swan (83)
- The Guest (83)
- Only Lovers Left Alive (82.5)
- Attack the Block (82.5)
- Hellboy 2 (82)
- Zombieland (81.5)
Under the Skin, Cabin in the Woods, Berberian Sound Studio, Wake Wood, Mulholland Drive, Excision, The Orphanage, The Gift, Grindhouse, 28 Days Later, House of the Devil, Ginger Snaps, Spring, Juan of the Dead, We Are Still Here, We Are What We Are, The Descent, Slither, Thirst, The Conjuring, Sightseers, Hellboy, Cheap Thrills, Shadow of a Vampire, The Skin I Live In, Paranormal Activity, This is the End, Infection, Absentia, A Tale of Two Sisters
The award for best burlap sack costume goes to Sam.
[Rec] (96%), Creep (93%), Inside (83%) Rogue (100%) , Eden Lake (83%), The Loved Ones (98%), Livid, (88%) and Three Extremes (84%) did not have Metacritic scores. They are pretty awesome though.
Top 20 Audience Rated Horror films according to IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes Audience Scores and Metacritc Users
- Pans Labyrinth (86.6)
- Shaun of the Dead (86.3)
- Let the Right One In (86)
- The Gift (85.3)
- The Devil’s Backbone (84.3)
- What We Do in the Shadows (82.3)
- American Psycho (82.3)
- Zombieland (82)
- Black Swan (81.6)
- Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (81)
- I Saw the Devil (81)
- Grindhouse (80.6)
- The Others (80)
- The Skin I Live In (80)
- Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (80)
- Frailty (80)
- A Tale of Two Sisters (79.6)
- Mulholland Drive (79.3)
- The Orphanage (80.5)
- Saw (79.3)
The Conjuring, 28 Days Later, Ginger Snaps, Ichi the Killer, [Rec], Bubba Ho-Tep, The Descent, Dawn of the Dead, Let Me In, The Loved Ones, Shadow of a Vampire, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Three Extremes, Shutter, The Babadook, Housebound, Only Lovers Left Alive, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Constantine, Cabin in the Woods, Thirst, Joyride, Inside, Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead, Spring, Hellboy 2, Devil’s Rejects, A Field in England, Attack the Block, Troll Hunter
Top 25 Rated horror films from Rotten Tomatoes Critics, RT Audience Score , Metacrtic, Metacritic User Score and IMDb Users
I consider these to be the highest rated “horror” films of the 21st century! It is a combination of critic and user scores which gives us a solid representation of the multiple scores.
- Pans Labyrinth (90.4)
- Let the Right One In (87.6)
- Shaun of the Dead (85.4)
- Devils Backbone (84.6)
- [REC] (84) – Did not have Metacritic score
- What We Do in the Shadows (83.6)
- The Gift (2015) (83.2)
- The Loved Ones (82.25) – Did not have Metacritic score
- Black Swan (82.2)
- Zombieland (81.8)
- The Babadook (81.4)
- Grindhouse (80.4)
- Mulholand Drive (80)
- Let Me In (79.8)
- The Orphanage (79.8)
- A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (79.4)
- The Others (79.2)
- 28 Days Later (79)
- Ginger Snaps (79)
- Housebound (78.4)
- Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (78.2)
- The Conjuring (78.2)
- The Skin I Live In (78)
- I Saw the Devil (77.8)
- A Tale of Two Sisters (77.8)
- The Descent (77.8)
- Only Lovers Left Alive (77.4)
The Host, Cabin in the Woods, Shadow of a Vampire, Inside, Hellboy 2, Attack the Block, American Psycho, Frailty, The Guest, Creep, Spring, Thirst, Drag Me To Hell, Bubba Ho-Tep, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Joyride, Dawn of the Dead, Hellboys, Cheap Thrills, Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead, This is the End, Rogue, Troll Hunter, 28 Weeks Later, House of the Devil, Eden Lake, The Snowtown Murders, Sightseers, Ichi the Killer, Livid, Berberian Sound Studio, Under the Skin, Juan of the Dead, Battle Royale, We Are Still Here, Cloverfield, Shutter, Pulse, Orphan, Excision, Stoker, The Mist, You’re Next, Kill List, The Gift, Paranormal Activity, Session 9, Slither, Back Country.
Quick note: There were some neat surprises in here. Joy Ride, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Attack the Block, Spring, Drag Me To Hell and Frailty all did really well! Frailty needs more love and I hope more college kids start killing themselves in a T&D sequel.
The list below doesn’t affect the rankings above. I just wanted to know what the top horror websites thought were the best 21st century horror films. The Top 10 rated according to Shocktillyoudrop, Dread Central, Fangoria (with info from the chainsaw awards), Bloody Disgusting and Bloody Good Horror
Sidenote: Four of the sites had “Best of the 00” Lists. Some featured 25 films while others featured 15 or 10. So, I picked the top 10 of each list. Then, I went through their 2010-2014 “Best of” lists and took the number one film from the list. Fangoria was a little trickier. I picked from from their 25 Greatest Horror Post then I went through their Golden chainsaw awards on IMDB. The following has the movies that were featured the most on the lists.
- Let the Right One In
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Babadook
- The Descent
- The Mist
- Dawn of the Dead remake
- Cabin in the Woods
- 28 Days Later
- Maniac, Inside, Attack the Block, Saw, I Saw the Devil, The Ring
- You’re Next, Piranha 3D, Housebouend, Conjuring, Evil Dead, May, Ginger Snaps, Devil’s Rejects, Shadow of a Vampire, Paranormal Activity, American Psycho, [Rec], Excision, Session 9.
Sidenote: Empire magazine did a massive 2011 “best of” horror list that was voted on by readers and only four films that were released after 2000 cracked the top 50. The Mist (48), The Descent (39), Let the Right One In (34) and 28 Days Later (25).
Now that you’ve checked out the top rated “Horror” films I want you to vote for the best of the 21 century. This is a mixture of the top ten and other favorites that got left out. Vote and let me know who should win.
The polls are closed. Thank you for voting! Here are the top 21 horror films of the 21st century! Enjoy!
You get three votes! Use them wisely! . I will announce the winner on our Facebook page next week.