Writer Tom Swinford picks and chooses his Top 10 modern horror films.

Written by Tom Swinford
Second Year, English Literature and History JH Film Critic and Film Lover
Last updated

With the release of Annabelle in cinemas, here’s a list of the top ten modern horror films of the 2000’s.


10) Paranormal Activity (2007)

In Paranormal Activity a couple becomes increasingly tormented nightly by a ghostly demonic presence when they move into a new suburban home. Looking back on Paranormal Activity, the film itself is not exactly the pinnacle of special effects and writing and its reputation might be tarnished do to its seemingly never-ending sequels yet it undoubtedly deserves a place on the top ten of modern 00’s horror due to both audience reaction and its impact on horror cinema as a whole.


9) Insidious (2011)

2011’s Insidious centres on a family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further. Insidious was James Wan’s first venture into paranormal horror after the ever-spawning torture franchise Saw. Indeed, Insidious is a distant departure from the Saw franchise insidious is a rarity in horror in that it almost has no blood whatsoever. It relies on it’s fantastic pace, score and perfectly timed jump scares to present an original and scary ghost story that builds amazingly on the already established ‘paranormal activity’ wave in noughties horror cinema.


8) 28 Weeks Later (2007)

Six months after the rage virus is inflicted on Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But of course, like in every horror flick, not everything goes to plan. Fear, guts and gore await all those in the Modern horror sequel 28 Weeks Later. 28 Weeks Later packs a stronger emotional punch and ferocious intensity than most modern horrors creating a scary and nerve-racking film that horror fans will love for years to come.


7) The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Yes whilst The Blair Witch Project is not technically in the 00’s its impact on modern 00’s horror is so vast that it sits as a starting line for the genre’s modernity. The Blair Witch Project story is about three film students who get lost after travelling in a forest whilst filming a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend. The film is primarily found footage, again like Paranormal Activity. The Blair Witch Project has only recently developed an anti-following of haters, yet upon its initial release crowds were running, screaming at the film’s hyper realism. Perhaps it’s due to the extra fear that comes with the label of ‘true story’ that The Blair Witch Project was so successful but without a doubt, the found footage genre would most likely not exist without it.


6) The Mist (2007)

After dense fog suddenly blankets a North eastern coastal town, many of the citizens band together inside a local supermarket to wait out the crippling weather. The Mist is unique to most monster horrors as it allows its human characters to be more unnerving, abominable, and vile than the genetically creatures which hunt them down. It is through this which allows The Mist to create a genuinely scary and disturbing atmosphere which accumulates in a terrifyingly sombre and bleak final scene.


5) Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Romance? Comedy? Horror?, call it what you will but Shaun of the Dead is the most popular ‘RomZomCom’ of all time. Due to its extreme popularity it spawned not only the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy but has reinvigorated the zombie sub-genre. Influencing films such as Warm Bodies and recent RomZomCom ‘Life After Beth’. The cinematic duo of  Pegg and Frost under the direction of Edgar Wright excel as zombie killing housemates Shaun and Ed, attempting to survive a zombie apocalypse. Whilst Shaun of the Dead is not necessarily the scariest film on this list but its smart, witty and consistently thrilling/funny. Edgar, Pegg and Frost have developed a highly popular blend of undergraduate humour and softcore horror, which takes inspiration from George A Romero’s Dead saga.


4) Sinister (2012)

Sinister is a about a true-crime writer who finds a cache of 8mm home movies films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s. Sinister’s intriguing back story terrifying pacing and brilliantly acted detective (Ethan Hawke) allow the plot to take horrific an unexpected twists and turns. In some sense it’ Hawke’s performance that brings gravitas and believability to the film which only allow it to be more frightening.


3) The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they must discover a terrible truth in director Drew Goddard’s and Writer Joss Whedon’s (The Avengers) modern twist on the classic ‘slasher’. The Cabin in the Woods is both a powerful critique of both society and horror cinema whilst at the same time being a genuinely entertaining bloodbath filled with enough thrills and frights for all cult horror followers. The Cabin in the Woods flips the codes and conventions of modern horror creating a classic which instantly surprises, time after time.


2) Let the Right One In (2008)

A 12-year-old boy befriends a mysterious young girl in Let the Right One In, whose appearance in town suspiciously coincides with a horrifying series of murders in director Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the book by author John Ajvide Lindqvist. Let the Right One In is a rare film, it is a fresh mix of frightening and intelligent film-making, and contains a decorated by Alfredson’s grubby realist style and gothic horror influences. The film’s subtle pacing and engulfing atmosphere allow it to transcend the exhausted genre that is modern vampire horror.

28 days later

1) 28 Days Later (2003)

After breaking into a chimpanzee research centre, a group of animal rights activists discover caged chimps chained up and ignoring the warnings of the terrified researcher who maintains that the chimps are infected, they free the animals and are immediately subjected to a bloody attack. Twenty-eight days later, Cyclist Jim awakes from a coma in the deserted intensive care unit of a London hospital.

It’s better than its sequel due to the humanism it develops in its plot. Boyle seeks to scare us out of our skin, whilst at the same time allowing us to apply our wits to an uncommonly intelligent and provocative zombie flick. Boyle’s 28 Days Later is both a tremendously terrifying zombie film and a sharp political metaphor.