The modern horror classics: Top 25 scary movies released this millennium

Thanks to such box-office hits as Get OutAnnabelle: CreationSplit, and, of course, the monster success that is It, 2017 is proof positive that moviegoers still love going to the theater to be scared out of their minds. And one could make the case that the genre has never been stronger than it’s been in the still-young 21st century. The past 17 years have seen the rise of global horror as a creative and commercial force, with new classics emerging from such far-flung locations as Australia and South Korea, along with domestically made features at both the independent and studio levels that push aesthetic and narrative boundaries. With Halloween on the horizon, Yahoo Entertainment is counting down the best horror movies released since 2000 and where you can see them. Be afraid … be very afraid. And be ready to sound off in the comments; we had to make some tough cuts (sorry, Pennywise!) to get this list to 25, so let us know your favorite movies that we missed.

‘Final Destination’ (2000)

The concept is genius: Death is inevitable, so don’t try to cheat it. And given that this is a horror movie about a group of teens who escape an ill-fated plane crash after one has a premonition, the Grim Reaper comes in a fast and furiously gruesome fashion. Director James Wong stages some of the most inspired and elaborate kill-offs we’ve ever witnessed. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu.) — Kevin Polowy (Photo: Everett Collection)

‘Ginger Snaps’ (2000)

The Canadian cult classic takes its inspiration from the terrors of adolescence — specifically, the confusing, horrifying, hairy, and occasionally blood-soaked experience of becoming a teenage girl. The plot begins with Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) getting her first period, which in her case is a literal curse: It turns her into a feral, sexually voracious werewolf. Ginger Snaps is a thoughtful coming-of-age story, but make no mistake: It’s also a deeply satisfying monster movie. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and YouTube.) — Gwynne Watkins (Photo: Unapix Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The Devil’s Backbone’ (2001)

Guillermo del Toro poured his heart into this gothic ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War, delivering one of his most effective fright flicks. The filmmaker ratchets up the tension, and the mystery, as an orphan boy endures visions of a ghostly child killed in a bombing. As the director himself has stated, though, “The ghost is not the scariest thing in the tale. It is human cruelty.” (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.) — Marcus Errico (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘28 Days Later…’ (2002)

Before The Walking Dead infested our televisions, 28 Days Later… reanimated the zombie genre. Danny Boyle’s low-budget, high-fright insta-classic checks all the zombie boxes — mystery outbreak, societal collapse, bloodthirsty masses, humans as scary as the infected—and creates a white-knuckle thrill ride that’s more terrifying than anything on TWD for one big reason: These are runners, not walkers. Be sure to watch the alternate ending. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu) — M.E. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

‘Cabin Fever’ (2002)

Not to be confused with Cabin in the Woods (which just missed our list), Eli Roth’s homage to the “haunted cabin” strain of horror movies is more straightforward in its scares than the Joss Whedon-Drew Goddard meta-comedy. But Cabin Fever still has plenty of laughs. It’s also gory as hell, and memorably so; that leg-shaving scene will forever change the way you look at razors. (Available on Netflix.) — Brett Arnold (Photo: Lionsgate Films/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2004)

Long before they became staples on the superhero scene, Zack Snyder and James Gunn collaborated on this reboot of George A. Romero’s zombie classic. Those of us who already get anxiety from shopping malls found even more to fear as a group of Wisconsinites fight for their lives in between clothing racks and food courts in an update that both pays reverence to the original and plays to a much quicker tempo. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — K.P. (Photo: Universal/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Saw’ (2004)

While it’s easy to make fun of the Saw franchise, the film that started it all remains an inventive, disturbing genre mind-game that isn’t tainted by the lesser sequels. Director James Wan made a no-budget indie flick that managed to transcend its limitations and deliver real scares. Sure, knowing the final twist ruins some of the fun, but watch it with somebody seeing it for the first time, and the look on their face will be worth the rental price alone. (Available on Netflix.) — B.A. (Photo: Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The Descent’ (2005)

Many horror films revolve around a group of friends fighting for survival against a psychotic and/or supernatural being. But what sets The Descent apart from the pack are the exceptional all-female cast, the high gore factor, and writer-director Neil Marshall’s ability to make viewers feel like they’re suffocating along with the doomed sextet in a claustrophobic, humanoid-infested cave. For those who dare, check out the international version, which boasts the original ending deemed too bleak for us stateside wimps. (Available on Hulu with a Showtime subscription; also available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — Matt Whitfield (Photo: Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The Mist’ (2007)

Monsters outside and monsters inside permeate this Stephen King-based apocalyptic horror film from Frank Darabont. When a strange fog rolls into town, it brings unspeakable creatures with it, trapping the squabbling locals inside a supermarket. The gut-punch twist ending has polarized audiences for a decade but has one big proponent: King himself. “I thought that was terrific,” he told Yahoo recently. “So anti-Hollywood … anti-everything, really! I liked that.” (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — M.E. (Photo: Weinstein Company/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Paranormal Activity’ (2007)

Found-footage horror has become an established film genre, but none have used the device more effectively than Oren Peli’s original Paranormal Activity, which first screened in 2007 but didn’t open in wide release until two years later. The supernatural presence haunting a young couple’s home is never seen but makes itself known through home-movie footage of their bedroom while they’re sleeping. Those sequences are some the most nail-biting in the history of horror, as we watch the night terrors progress from a door mysteriously opening to something much, much worse. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — G.W. (Photo: Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Let the Right One In’ (2008)

The Little Vampire, this is not. Tomas Alfredson’s haunting arthouse crossover follows a quiet Swedish boy who befriends a quiet young girl who just so happens to be a mercilessly powerful bloodsucker. We’re never quite sure if the boy’s in harm’s way, but his bullies in school sure are, resulting in the most stunning swimming pool-adjacent scene ever committed to film. (Yep, it even beats Cocoon.) This is also the rare case where an American remake — Matt Reeves’s Let Me In, released two years later — was a worthy take on the original foreign version. (Available on Hulu.) — K.P. (Photo: Magnolia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Coraline’ (2009)

Horror: It’s not just for grownups. Working from Neil Gaiman’s creepy children’s novella, Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick and the stop-motion geniuses at Laika Studios crafted a gorgeous, genuinely unsettling fable about a young girl who finds a secret door that transports her to her “Other Mother” and “Other Father.” The movie expertly mines childhood fears in a way that will entertain young viewers, while also giving them (and their parents) the tingles. (Available on Netflix.) — Ethan Alter (Photo: Focus Features/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Drag Me to Hell’ (2009)

After a multidecade break, Sam Raimi returned to his horror roots with Drag Me to Hell, a genuinely creepy — and funny! — film that fits right alongside the Evil Dead movies as a genre classic. Nobody directs horror like Raimi, and his anxiety-inducing camerawork, along with Alison Lohman’s terrific performance, makes for an unforgettable experience. The shockingly dark ending is particularly memorable. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — B.A. (Photo: Universal/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The House of the Devil’ (2009)

The House of the Devil‘s success on the indie horror circuit established writer-director Ti West as one of the most exciting up-and-comers on the scene. It’s a slow burn that hits you with terror when you least expect it and builds to a genuinely shocking conclusion. For a horror flick that’s seemingly just about a babysitter stuck in a house, it’s got some tricks up its sleeve. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — B.A. (Photo: Magnet Releasing/Courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Black Swan’ (2010)

Darren Aronofsky’s study of the brutal world of professional ballet deftly pirouettes from a modest arthouse film to a chilling psychodrama about body image, do-or-die competition, and the darkest of depressions. The filmmaker’s unsettling leaps in tone and Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning performance combine to create a brittle barre to which rattled viewers cling as our heroine’s fate — not to mention her very sanity — rests upon her opening-night performance. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — M.W. (Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘You’re Next’ (2011)

When Erin (Sharni Vinson) joins her boyfriend’s family for a weekend at their country home, the house is attacked by a gang wearing animal masks, who seem intent on killing everyone … except that Erin is surprisingly good at fighting back. Over a brisk 90 minutes, secrets are revealed, irony is laid on thick, and characters die in some awfully creative ways, one of which involves a kitchen appliance. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — G.W. (Photo: Lionsgate/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The Conjuring’ (2013)

In the tradition of The Amityville Horror and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, James Wan and company tapped into real-life tales of terror for this franchise-launching horror hit. Digging into the archives of renowned paranormal experts Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) resulted in this pulsating period piece about what went down (and up) at the home of a rural Rhode Island family in 1971. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — K.P. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Under the Skin’ (2013)

Jonathan Glazer’s sci-fi/horror hybrid spawns a creeping terror that’s so subtle, moviegoers won’t be able to shake certain scenes for weeks. In addition to delivering some of the most frightening deaths in contemporary cinema history, the instant cult classic features award-winning composer Mica Levi’s haunting original score, along with an out-of-this-world performance by Scarlett Johansson as a mysterious stranger in the strange land of Scotland. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — M.W. (Photo: A24/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘The Babadook’ (2014)

Jennifer Kent’s striking directorial debut introduces a new boogeyman guaranteed to haunt your late-night dreams and wakings. Introduced as the macabre main character of an Edward Gorey-esque children’s book, the Babadook (dook dook dook) acquires a life-sized menace over the course of the film, as an already sanity-challenged mother (the remarkable Essie Davis) slides deeper into madness. Interestingly, this creature has acquired a less-terrifying identity outside of the movie, becoming an LGBT icon. (Available on Netflix.) — E.A. (Photo: IFC Midnight/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘It Follows’ (2014)

Imagine being trapped in a nightmare where you know that a zombie is going to kill you no matter how far or fast you run. That sense of lurking, dreamlike terror is the heart of writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s riff on the coming-of-age horror film. Like the characters, viewers are put on high alert looking for the killer lurking in the corner of every shot, which makes for an unnerving and unforgettable cinematic experience. (Available on Netflix.) — G.W. (Photo: Radius-TWC/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Don’t Breathe’ (2016)

Evil Dead reboot director Fede Alvarez re-teams with scream queen Jane Levy for a low-budget home-invasion flick that serves up a satisfying victim-villain twist and a next-level game of cat-and-mouse. In addition to earning incessant scares for all 88 minutes, Don’t Breathe went on to earn critical acclaim and more than $150M at the worldwide box office. And you don’t have to hold your breath for a sequel: One is already in the works with Alvarez holding the keys. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — M.W. (Photo: Gordon Timpen/Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Green Room’ (2016)

Jeremy Saulnier’s bloody thriller follows an unsuccessful punk band, led by the late Anton Yelchin, as they end up with a gig at a white supremacist bar in the middle of nowhere. The venue happens to be owned and operated by none other than Sir Patrick Stewart, in one of the most exciting (and easily the most terrifying) roles of his career. It’s definitely not for the squeamish. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — B.A. (Photo: Scott Green, A24 /courtesy Everett Collection)

‘I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House’ (2016)

Every house has a history, and few of those histories are more chilling than the origin story behind the 19th-century home serving as the sole setting for director Osgood Perkins’s superbly creepy second feature. Already dead as the movie begins, in-home nurse Lily (Ruth Wilson) revisits the events that led to her demise, unearthing the secrets that exist in the walls of what’s become her tomb. While House’s aesthetic precision and enigmatic storytelling make it more of a tone poem than a gonzo gorefest, once you’ve adjust to its wavelength it’ll have you gazing nervously into every dark corner of your own home. (Available on Netflix.) — E.A. (Photo: Albert Camicoli, Netflix/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Train to Busan’ (2016)

South Korea has contributed some bonkers horror flicks to the canon this millennium, and Train to Busan might be the apotheosis. The premise: A bunch of normal folks board the titular choo-choo, among them an infected woman. Faster than you can say, “Casey Jones,” there’s a ghoul outbreak in the chillingly close confines of the passenger cars as they race down the tracks. Let’s just say zombies on a train are way more awesome, and freakout-inducing, than snakes on a plane. (Available on Netflix.) — M.E. (Photo: Well Go USA Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection)

‘Get Out’ (2017)

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut doesn’t rely on ghosts or demons for its scares, because the filmmaker realizes that America’s real-life monsters — including racism, police violence, and the specter of slavery — are frightening enough. While visiting his white girlfriend’s liberal parents, photographer Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) realizes that he’s the victim of a nefarious plot, one that doubles as a brilliant metaphor for how black lives are systematically exploited and destroyed by white America. Not only does Peele’s political commentary strike a nerve, but the film manages to be both genuinely chilling and darkly hilarious. (Available on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.) — G.W. (Photo: Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)