Halloween is but a few days away, which means by now you should be knee-deep in trick-or-treating candy meant for the kids (sucks for them) and marathoning horror movies until your eyes bleed. While it's a given that you'll watch the all-time greats like The Exorcist, The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and, of course, Halloween, don't neglect the modern classics. In fact, the past 14 years have generated some of the most terrifying, intense, and all-around messed-up pieces of cinema. In no particular order, here are Scout's picks for the best horror movies of the 2000s. Just a heads up, a lot of these clips are NSFW…or for keeping your lunch.
The Descent (2005)
If you're claustrophobic, this movie is basically hell on Earth... which is fitting considering it's a movie about experiencing what can only be described as hell on Earth. A group of female spelunkers (heh) get trapped in an underground cave that just so happens to be inhabited blood-hungry mutant cannibals called Crawlers. It's a gory, leave-the-lights-on kind of horror flick that's as stylish as it is genuinely terrifying. For maximum nightmares, make sure you watch the unsettling, original U.K. ending in addition to the U.S. version.
Call it a crime/mystery thriller all you want, this is one of the most shit-your-pants scary movies in recent memory. Thanks to that famous David Fincher touch of making everything as bleak and dreadful as humanly possible, the investigation of the Zodiac killer somehow seems even more horrific than you can imagine. Take your pick on which scene keeps you up longer at night: the lake scene or the basement scene. RUN, JAKE GYLLENHAAL, RUUUUUN.
The Mist (2007)
Oh, hey, good luck ever trying to shake the monumentally messed-up ending to this movie.
The Ring (2002)
Not since Poltergeist has a TV set seemed so menacing, and honestly, is there anything scarier than not being able to turn on your TV without the fear of a creepy ghost kid crawling out of it? We just wanted to watch the game in peace, dammit!
You're Next (2013)
Nobody really saw this flick, which is too bad considering it's one hell of a ride. The home invasion genre gets a sick twist when a family is hunted down by sinister intruders wearing some creepy-ass animal masks. If you liked The Strangers but wish it had a self-aware sense of humor, a kick-ass final girl (here, Sharni Vinson), excellent use of a Dwight Twilley song, and an unforgettable scene involving a blender, then this is the horror movie for you.
28 Days Later (2002)
The wildly popular zombie genre got a fresh jolt of energy back in 2002 when Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later scared the hell out of audiences with the story of a group of post-apocalyptic survivors (lead by Cillian Murphy) trying to avoid disease-ravaged, fast-moving zombies in London.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Horror remakes based off of classics are a big gamble that rarely pays off (see: Evil Dead) but 2004's Dawn of the Dead not only does the original justice, it's just as good as its source material.
Let The Right One In (2008)
Yeah, it's subtitled and yeah, it's about being in love with a young vampire, but don't mistake this for some foreign version of Twilight because it's anything but. This moody, beautifully shot Swedish flick is one of the few genuinely dark and terrifying horror films that's also regarded as an art house masterpiece, which this most certainly is.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Joss Whedon's genre-bending horror send-up is as funny and self-aware as it is scary and a total blast. A group of sexy pals (including Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Connolly) take a trip to the ominous, titular cabin in the woods only to find themselves being hunted by a group of killer zombies. But everything is not as it seems and when the big twist is revealed, the movie is turned on its head entirely. Everything that happens in the second half of the movie is a deliriously violent and hilarious horror free-for-all. It also has one of the most satisfying cameos of all-time.
[REC] 2 (2009)
2007's fright fest [REC} could have just as easily made this list, but considering how rare great horror sequels are, we gave the edge to the 2012 follow-up. Picking up right where the original left off, a government health official and a SWAT team enter the demon-infested apartment complex to try and make sure the evil inside doesn't get out. On the bright side, it'll make the problems in your own apartment building seem not so bad in comparison.
The French are some seriously deranged people, Exhibit A.
The French are some seriously deranged people, Exhibit B.