31 best horror movies of the 21st century so far
One incredible scary movie to watch for every day of October...
Spooky season is upon us, so we want to point you in the right direction when it comes to watching some properly good, properly scary movies.
We've whittled the list down to just those that have been released in the century we're currently in, and also whittled it down to 31 of the best, so you've got one for each day of October, should you want to take on the spooky challenge!
If not, dip in and out as you see fit, maybe catch up on some you've not seen or even heard of.
Here is our list of the 31 best scary movies of the 21st century so far in chronological order, starting with...
SESSION 9 
The oldest and probably least-known movie on this list is probably also the most purely terrifying. An asbestos cleaning crew head to an abandoned mental hospital, but the more time they spend there, the more of the building's horrific past reveals itself to them.
28 DAYS LATER 
Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris head up this reinvention of the zombie outbreak movie, with director Danny Boyle giving us a look at a completely empty metropolis, ruined by a rage-fuelled pandemic. Still feels unlike pretty much any other horror movie made before or since.
DAWN OF THE DEAD 
Zack Snyder's first feature is a remake of the 1978 classic, but updated with running zombies and a skewering of modern capitalism. A great, eclectic cast - including Phil from Modern Family in full-on douchebag mode! - bring life to the script written by none other than James Gunn.
THE DESCENT 
A group of women go on a cave-diving expedition, but following a cave-in, they soon discover they're not alone down there. An incredibly claustrophobic movie that would've been scary enough before any of the creatures arrive, which only pushes the tension into another level altogether.
THE HOST 
Before his Oscar glory with Parasite, director Bong Joon-ho caught our attention with this riff on the Godzilla formula, as the city near a highly polluted river in South Korea find themselves under attack by a huge, amphibious creature.
28 WEEKS LATER 
The only sequel on this list, partly because it feels so very different to the original movie, but mostly because it is a brilliantly scary movie in its own right. Attempting to return to normal life and fill an almost entirely vacant city with life again also has some creepy parallels to the last two years or so.
THE MIST 
One of the most aggressively depressing and pessimistic horror movies in existence, this adaptation of Stephen King's story sees some small town locals take cover from monsters in an inexplicable mist, but soon discover there is an even greater danger hiding amongst the townsfolk themselves.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 
All of these sequels later, it is very easy to forget and overlook the genius minimalism at work in the first Paranormal Activity movie. Borrowing the less-is-more aesthetic from The Blair Witch Project, all this needed was a static camera, two actors and a creepy house, and our imaginations did the rest.
Competently remade by Hollywood under the title Quarantine, the Spanish-language original still takes the cake for pure, pulse-pounding dread. An apartment block is placed under lockdown following an outbreak of a strain of rabies, and a news crew that just happens to be tagging along with a fire brigade team capture the night as it fully descends into madness.
THE STRANGERS 
Home invasion thrillers can cause palpitations under normal circumstances, but the cold reasoning of Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman simply being at home when these strangers happened to knock put an extra layer of fear on to proceedings.
DRAG ME TO HELL 
When the director of the Evil Dead movies decides he wants to make a fun, silly, but still totally scary ghost train of a movie, you shut up and you get on. You will laugh. You will scream. You will gag in disgust.
The first of two James Wan movies on this list (and, to be honest, Saw almost made it too), there is something weirdly off-centre about this spooky house story. The air of 'never quite knowing where the story is going to go next' is what keeps us on edge all the way through.
KILL LIST 
A contract killer is sent off on a mission to assassinate a number of seemingly unconnected targets, but as more and more of his kill list get taken out, this psychological thriller springs its trap. Unarguably the most disturbing movie on this list.
THE CONJURING 
James Wan's second entry on this list feels like an old-school haunted house tale brought to life with modern effects and cinema trickery. We feel safe in the hands of central spook-busters couple Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, and Wan is having a ball with his mix of jump scares and slowly building dread.
THE BABADOOK 
Grief takes on a physical form in this Australian ghost story, following the story of a mother and young son who are in the midst of the aftermath of the death of her husband. As a spectral figure begins to torment them both, is it really there, or are they both losing their minds?
IT FOLLOWS 
Sex and horror has always been interlinked, so It Follows takes it to the next logical, terrifying step. An unstoppable demon that only you can see will slowly follow you everywhere you go, unless you pass the curse along to someone else... by having sex with them. It sounds funny and/or stupid, but trust us, this is properly scary stuff.
GREEN ROOM 
The late Anton Yelchin fronts this vicious thriller about a punk-rock band that witness a murder at small-town Nazi bar (headed by a shockingly unhinged Patrick Stewart!), so they turn the backstage green room into a panic room/killing floor in an attempt to get out alive.
THE INVITATION 
Tom Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall-Green heads to the home of his ex-wife with his new girlfriend, in an attempt to mend some bridges. But what starts out as a friendly-but-awkward dinner party soon takes a turn for the sinister. As if we needed another reason to decline RSVPs these days...
DON'T BREATHE 
Stephen Lang is the blind loner who puts his house into lockdown when he realises that three burglars have broken in, wanting to take him for all he's worth. The audience will find their allegiances switching constantly, as we try to source the lesser of the evils on screen.
TRAIN TO BUSAN 
A zombie outbreak in South Korea forces a group of passengers on a trail from Seoul to Busan to attempt to survive to the end of the line. Smart, violent and propulsive, the inevitable Hollywood remake is on the way.
GET OUT 
Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning horror deserves all of the attention it got. While not quite as scary as some of the other entries on this list, it does use the horror genre to tackle some big, weighty topics and themes, all backed up with a stellar line-up of killer performances.
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence head up this Bible parable, in which their sorta-Adam and Eve witness the destruction of their world around them with the introduction of more and more people in their lives. The kind of movie that doesn't always make intellectual sense, but emotionally is dragging you through the ringer.
A QUIET PLACE 
We're all still a bit shook that Jim from The Office is responsible for writing, directing and starring in one of the best horror movies of the last few decades. Smartly, all it took was a Hitchcockian appreciation for sound (or the lack of it) to truly turn the screws on the audience.
Giving a very clever twist on the body horror subgenre, Natalie Portman heads up this all-female expedition into the area surrounding a crashed asteroid. Once inside the isolation zone, all rules of time, memory, genetics and biology go out the window. In their place, we get fear, terror and screaming bear pigs.
A group of sexy dancers hire out an empty building for a night, to practise and to party. Someone spikes the punch with LSD and things go south in the worst way imaginable. One of the most anxiety-inducing movies of all time.
Toni Collette should've won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a mother suffering a psychological onslaught from all sides following the shocking death of her young daughter. Her day-to-day life is scary enough, before the arrival of some new friends who keep speaking in weird riddles...
If you're in need of a leading man who can feel believable when exacting revenge on a devil-worshipping biker gang, then Nic Cage is your man. An absolute assault on the sense, somehow both grounded by and rising to meet the challenge of its central actor.
THE HOLE IN THE GROUND 
We did it! We finally did it! An Irish horror movie that is worthy of the global stage, fronted by Seána Kerslake as a mother who begins to suspect that her young son may not be her son at all, but a demonic doppleganger.
Ari Aster's second entry on this list as Hereditary is another mind-blowing trip into horror, giving centre stage to another awards-worthy performance (this time by Florence Pugh), and once again dealing with life, death, grief and fragile mental states in a profound way. But whereas Hereditary hid in the shadows, Midsommar places the terror out in the broad light of day.
THE INVISIBLE MAN 
An update on the silliest of the Universal's monsters opens with a nail-biting, almost-silent scene of pure tension and never really lets up from there. Elisabeth Moss is phenomenal in the lead role, playing a victim of domestic abuse who is never really sure if she's suffering from PTSD or is actually being harassed by some unseeable assailant.
All clips via MovieTrailers