20 Horror Movies From the '00s That Still Give Us Chills

Martha Sorren | Oct 4, 2019 Movies
20 Horror Movies From the '00s That Still Give Us Chills

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring (2013)
Warner Bros. Pictures

October is the perfect month for watching scary movies in the lead-up to Halloween. And while 2019 has already produced some epic new horror films, we can't stop thinking about the below 20 terrifying movies from the early 2000s. Some of these came out over 15 years ago, and they're still just as scary now as they were then.

The movie industry's technology has advanced a lot in recent years, and there's so much that can be done to up the ante on a horror flick -- especially when it comes to how creepily realistic CGI can make the monsters and all the gooey stuff look. But even with lower tech special effects, the 2000s delivered on the spooky front with terrifying found footage films, deadly claustrophobic adventures, and all kinds of paranormal tales.

Audiences have long loved horror movies. Sure, it's a little strange to fork over our hard-earned money to be scared out of our wits in a theater, but it's also so fun. Many of these classic creepy features were such hits with critics and viewers alike that they spawned two, three, or even seven sequels.

(Hello, Saw franchise.)

Some of these terrifying tales aren't even rated R. They're PG-13, but still so scary that they send chills down our spine a decade later. Let's be real, no one would ever think of The Ring as being PG-13. That movie is straight-up twisted. But it's not rated R. (Wild.)

The next time we throw a Halloween movie night, we'll turn to these flicks. They may be throwbacks, but they're still fun and frightening to watch. In no particular order, here are the 20 scary 2000s movies we're still terrified by today.

  • 'Saw' (2004)

    1

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: A serial killer has strangers trapped in a twisted game where they must kill or be killed. 

    Saw spawned seven terrifying sequels over the years, the most recent premiering in 2017, but the original movie introduced the spooky, bike-riding villain Jigsaw so it will forever incite the most terror.

  • 'The Ring' (2002)

    2
    Rated: PG-13

    Synopsis: A videotape that plays horrific images and creepy static has been killing people seven days after they watch it. Journalist Rachel is determined to figure out what exactly is going on, even putting herself directly in harm's way by watching the tape as well.

    The Ring is part of a trilogy that includes The Ring Two and Rings. The anticipation in the original movie of not knowing whether Rachel will make it still sends chills down our spines.
  • 'The Conjuring' (2013)

    3

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: When a family encounters strange and scary paranormal activities in their home, two investigators try to find the source of the trouble ... but they might not want to know the answer.

    Audiences were sufficiently freaked out by The Conjuring, so the movie went on to produce two sequels. The Conjuring 3 is in production now.
  • 'Sinister' (2012)

    4

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: Ethan Hawke stars as Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer who stumbles on an unsolved serial killer case that threatens the safety of his own family.

    Sinister was, well, exactly what the title says -- but audiences responded positively to the terrifying tale, and Sinister 2 followed three years later.

  • 'The Hills Have Eyes' (2006)

    5
    Rated: R

    Synopsis: A couple and their three children and granddaughter run into trouble when they encounter a group of cannibals while on vacation in a remote part of America.

    The movie was originally so scary that it was rated NC-17, so some of the more gruesome moments were cut out. It's still terrifying at an R-rating though.
  • 'The Orphanage' (2007)

    6
    Rated: R

    Synopsis
    : Laura brings her son back to where she grew up -- in an orphanage. If that wasn't creepy enough, her son soon makes a ghostly friend that only he can see.

    Critics and fans alike were horrified (in a good way) by this film. The Orphanage scored above 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • 'The Babadook' (2014)

    7
    Rated: Not Rated

    Synopsis: After losing her husband, Amelia has had to raise her child all on her own. Things are made even harder for her when her son starts to fear that a monster is living with them ... and he might not be wrong.

    The Babadook was initially an Australian-released film, but it became a hit overseas in the US, too. It has a 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a place in our minds forever because it was creepily scarring. Again, in a good way.

  • 'The Descent' (2005)

    8

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: Six women get trapped in a cave and are forced to contend with bloodthirsty monsters and other realities they didn't see coming.

    The Descent movie is every claustrophobic person's worst nightmare, and just re-reading the description has our skin crawling.

  • 'Session 9' (2001)

    9
    Rated: R

    Synopsis: A work crew is tasked with cleaning up an old psychiatric hospital. Soon, the building's dark past may come back to haunt them all.

    The hospital in Session 9 was inspired by a real Massachusetts mental facility called Danvers State Hospital that has since been renovated into apartments.

    (Not creepy.)

  • 'The Strangers' (2008)

    10

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler star in this movie which follows a young couple. When three strangers break into the home, the lovers must fend for their lives.

    Director Bryan Bertino said he was inspired by the Manson Family Sharon Tate murders, because Tate and the other victims would have had no idea who their attackers were or the context for the moment.

  • '28 Days Later' (2002)

    11
    Rated: R

    Synopsis: Twenty-eight days after a virus hits the UK, those who happened to survive try to make it in the post-apocalyptic society.

    This chilling film is not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock comedy 28 Days. They are very different.

  • 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' (2005)

    12

    Rated: PG-13

    Synopsis: A young girl (played by Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter) dies after her parents force an exorcism upon her. This movie follows the lawyer who takes on the negligent homicide case against her parents.

    If this plot wasn't already creepy enough, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is actually based on a true story. According to The Telegraph, 23-year-old Anneliese Michel starved to death in 1976 after nine months of fasting to rid her body of its supposed satanic demons. Her parents were convicted of negligent homicide and given suspended six-month sentences along with three years of probation.

  • 'Rec' (2007)

    13

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: This movie reads like a documentary because of its "found footage" film style. Rec is about a TV reporter and cameraman doing a story in an apartment, only to find themselves locked inside with the murderous residents.

    Originally a Spanish film, it was remade in the US under the name Quarantine in 2008.
  • 'Gothika' (2003)

    14
    Rated: R

    Synopsis: In Gothika, Halle Berry plays a psychiatrist at a mental facility. One morning, she wakes up as a patient at the asylum instead of the doctor. Unable to convince anyone that she's not a patient -- and having no memory of how she got there -- she's trapped in her own personal nightmare.

    This is more of a thriller than a straight-up horror movie, but it's still completely terrifying.


  • 'Splinter' (2008)

    15

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: Think a regular wooden splinter is bad? In this movie, a Splinter is a parasite that latches on to people while they're alive, turning them into killing machines. The film follows three people attempting to outrun these monsters.

    With an original premiere date of October 31, 2008, Splinter had just the right amount of horrific thrills and chills to make it the perfect Halloween watch then and now.
  • 'The Mist' (2007)

    16

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: A storm turns deadly when it releases monsters into a town. The citizens are forced to take shelter in a grocery store to wait out the storm ... and the hell it's unleashed.

    Originally a novella, The Mist gets its horrifying plot straight from the king of horror writing himself: Stephen King.
  • 'Pulse' (2001)

    17

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: For every parent who's ever worried about the dangers of the internet, this one's for us. In the film, ghosts learn how come into the real world through the internet, which is a straight-up terrifying thought for anyone who's ever browsed online in bed at night.

    Since the movie was originally a Japanese horror movie, it was remade for American audiences in 2006 starring Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder.
  • 'Cloverfield' (2008)

    18

    Rated: PG-13

    Synopsis: A group of New Yorkers must fight for their lives when a monster is unleashed in the city. It's structured as a found-footage film, which makes it seem even more realistic and scary.

    Cloverfield's success enabled it to become a trilogy. In 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane premiered, and  The Cloverfield Paradox came out in 2018. Each new one is just as scary as the last.

  • 'Eden Lake' (2008)

    19

    Rated: R

    Synopsis: In this lake vacation gone wrong, a couple runs into a gang of teens which may turn out to be deadly.

    Eden Lake is a British horror movie that ranked well with American audiences too. It holds a 79% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • 'The Others' (2001)

    20

    Rated: PG-13

    Synopsis: Nicole Kidman plays a mother living in an old house that she's convinced is haunted by "others."

    Horror films are rarely recognized by the awards circuit, but Kidman got a Golden Globe nomination for this movie. It also has an 83% Rotten Tomatoes critics score.
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