Halloween is a wonderful time for horror fans. It is a time filled with nostalgia-fuelled watching of beloved horror films. Every year we flock to our living rooms with unsuspecting victims, dragging them to couches all around the world to watch Halloween, Trick R Treat, Scream, Carrie, and Saw for the billionth time.
The 2000s aren’t widely thought of as iconic for horror (at least not yet), but it was the decade that brought us Saw, The Ring, The Descent American Psycho, and Paranormal Activity, all game changers in their subgenres. While going through my repertoire of countless DVDs and making lists of movies to watch in October, it occurred to me that there are many horror movies that I love that I don’t rewatch to the degree of my 70s, 80s, and 90s favourites. If you let yourself think not so far back, the 2000s are a goldmine of horror films that deserve a rewatch. Check out six of my favourites below!
1. House of Wax (2004)
This remake of the Vincent Price classic features Elisha Cuthbert and Jared Padalecki as a couple who head into town after some car trouble. The car trouble conveniently followed a creepy encounter that they had at their campsite the night before. They soon find themselves in the strange, seemingly abandoned town of Ambrose, which features the cutest little wax museum you ever did see. Unfortunately, the work is realistic for a reason…
A bizarre little slasher which was famous for about a minute for featuring Paris Hilton, this one is a body horror that will make you think twice about stopping at a quaint little wax museum on your next road trip.
2. Hollow Man (2000)
Hollow Man is the millennium’s take on The Invisible Man. Kevin Bacon plays the title character, a scientist who tests his own experiment and then becomes drunk with the power of it. The supporting cast is also stellar, featuring Elisabeth Shue and Josh Brolin. Bacon plays it to perfection; even his voice gives a menacing feel to his character which elevates this from feeling like just another poltergeist story.
This one is great in that it shows that some human themes, regardless of time period, are completely universal and unchanging. I don’t know whether this is comforting or depressing, but we got a believable movie out of it.
3. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
The late 90s/early 2000s were full of movies that pushed the envelope for gore. Thir13en Ghosts is a prime example of this. Lots and lots of blood.
This is the story of a ghost hunter who has been trapping angry ghosts to use as fuel. When he is killed in an accident during a trapping, he leaves his estate to his long-lost nephew. Shortly after arriving to check the place out, the family realizes what he’s been doing as the ghosts are unleashed one by one.
The style of ghosts and gore in this one is sort of a mashup of The House on Haunted Hill and some sort of Clive Barker fever dream. This one gets serious points for creativity and an awesome set design. The only drawback to this one was there was a character that I didn’t understand the motivation for in the end, but overall you get what is advertised for this forgotten gem.
4. Ghost Ship (2002)
Ghost Ship is one of those movies that everyone has seen but almost no one revisits unless it’s on TV late one night. If you ask any horror fan about this movie and they’ve seen it, I guarantee that they will gush over the opening sequence. It is definitely a “Well, that escalated quickly” moment.
This film has the bonus of an isolated setting on the water; where are these people going to go if (ahem…when) things go bad? On top of that, there is an element of trust amongst everyone that really ratchets up the tension as each character’s motivations for coming on this treasure hunting trip are revealed. A great ghost story with good action, be sure to add this when you need a nostalgia boost.
5. Frailty (2001)
This was Bill Paxton’s directorial debut, and so stands the test of time that it really should be talked about more than it is. After his death, I did see some articles discussing this one again, and I hope that the extra attention will eventually get this one the cult status it deserves.
Frailty follows two boys who are being raised by their father, who has slowly become unhinged and convinced that God has told him to begin hunting demons. The problem? The demons happen to look and act just like real people…even after they’re murdered. One of the boys (played by Matthew McConaughey in one of his earliest dark roles) is telling the story as an adult. Of the boys, one of them believes wholeheartedly in their father’s mission, while the other struggles with guilt.
A supernatural thrill ride with an awesome twist, this is one that should be on everyone’s annual watch list.
6. Willard (2003)
This remake of the 70s classic is no less strange when given a reboot.
Antisocial, lonely, shoved around, and with a relationship with his mother that I’m sure would make an therapist a comfortable living, Willard has had enough. Luckily, he can count on his newfound friends to help him out: an ocean of rats.
Yep. You read that right.
Willard is so strange that I feel like it just didn’t find a niche back in the 2000s, and seems largely forgotten about. It is a creative take on the bullied kid taking revenge in the only way he can, and interestingly enough the message today would be highly politicized, as the subject matter could easily be a conversation about mental health and gun control.
Crispin Glover nails this roll, never seeming campy once. He embraces the weirdness, and it works.
Hopefully this list has given you the desire to go back and give some of those quiet 2000s flicks another chance! Enjoy!