My Top 21 Favorite Modern Horror And Thriller Films
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My Top 21 Favorite Modern Horror And Thriller Films

From devious villains, to the paranormal... Get ready to scream!

My Top 21 Favorite Modern Horror And Thriller Films

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge horror and psychological thriller film buff! Everything from the mainstream, to more obscure titles, I love to be scared! So, I won’t keep you in suspense. I’ll let the films on this list do that!

  • The Sixth Sense – This one is a favorite of mine. If you haven’t seen it don’t let anyone ruin the plot for you. I feel like this film has become a modern classic, and for good reason. There are no cheap special effects, just awesome makeup, powerful music, trippy camera angles, and great storytelling. If you like terrifying stories involving ghosts, and enjoy horror with characters you can empathize with, then this is the film for you
  • The Ring – There are a lot of mixed opinions on this film, but it’s been a favorite of mine since I first saw it when I was 14. I was so afraid of my closet afterwards, I had nightmares, and couldn’t sleep by myself for the next 3 nights! The mystery surrounding the little girl in this film, as well as her adoptive parents and the town she affected, is truly the stuff of nightmares! Naomi Watts plays a journalist who decides to investigate the chilling story of the little girl named Samara. If you like to be scared, but also enjoy a rich plot line with lots of twists and secrets, then you’ll love this movie!
  • Dead Silence – This film is pretty creepy, but in a dark fairy tale kind of way. The ventriloquist dolls in this film will intrigue you, but what their owner does to her victims is what will stick with you. The town in the film has a legend about a lady named Mary Shaw who was believed to have murdered a child. She was hunted down and killed by the townspeople, and more than a century later, her ghost returns. She seems to be stalking the main character of the film in particular, but the reason why is unclear. You’ll just have to watch it to find out!
  • Saw – The original movie in the franchise will always be my favorite, although I loved the sequels too. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you’re in for a shock! “Saw” will keep you in suspense, as well as deliver terror in a surreal, yet still possible sense. The main villain, Jigsaw (who will be gotten to know further through the sequels) is one of my favorites of all time, because of his intellect. There is not as much gore in this first film as there is in the sequels, but it’s done tastefully, and is warranted.
  • Dark Skies – For fans of Sci-Fi and terrifying alien tales, this film packs a punch! I had no idea what to expect the first time I saw this movie, but I can honestly say it scared the hell outta me! It was too damn real at times, and felt so possible that it made me question everything I assumed about life on other planets. Turn the lights out, and get ready to jump out of your seat…just don’t watch it alone!
  • House of 1000 Corpses – Rob Zombie’s directorial debut is a lot of fun, and a scary good time! I can honestly say I screamed, I jumped, and felt thoroughly repulsed, because I had honestly not seen anything as odd, and startling as this film before. There were elements of it though, that were reminiscent of the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, which is a great classic! “House of 1000 Corpses” feels like a classic for the 21st Century. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t seen it, because that was a big part of the fun for me, and what made it so scary, was not knowing much about the film before I watched it. Don't assume though that it's all business, as there is plenty of dark humor to go around, including the fun road trip feel in the first 3rd or so of the film.
  • The Devil’s Rejects – In this heavy hitting sequel to “House of 1000 Corpses,” we get a totally different story, and feel that sets this film apart from its predecessor in a seriously awesome way! I can’t even say that this one was better than the first, because honestly they’re just so different in every way. This film is definitely heavier, in a realistic drama sense. The characters are much more concrete, and three dimensional in this movie. The score by Tyler Bates is exceptional, setting the tone perfectly for each scene. The soundtrack’s songs that were picked by Rob Zombie, match the many moods of this film seamlessly! The plot is skillfully paced, the cast is perfection, and the terror is unexpectedly raw! I personally love the cinematography in this film; it feels gritty, looks like it came from another time and place, and really makes you wish you were headed to California with the most infamous, villainous family you’ll ever have the chance to know!
  • Lights Out – This film is still pretty new, but I screamed in the theater, so I think it deserves to be on this list. For everyone who has ever been afraid of the dark, this film will hit home! There is a genuinely interesting story though here, regarding the relationships of the main characters, and their dysfunctional family dynamic. Good horror films are ones where the characters have substance, and this film accepts no substitutes.
  • Jack Goes Home – Starring veteran horror movie actress Lin Shaye, Daveigh Chase (who played Samara in The Ring), and Rory Culkin as Jack, this movie will make your head spin. It’s eerie and weird, and nobody plays crazy in the stylized way that Rory Culkin does. His all too real portrayal of an unhinged schizophrenic in the movie “Gabriel”, put him on my radar as a promising young actor to watch, which led me to finding “Jack Goes Home.” He is brilliant in this film, giving you a feeling of unease, as we slowly descend into the madness of Jack’s family’s dark past.
  • The Gift – This film is amazing, to say the least! I felt compelled to go back and watch it again (and again). It’s one of those movies where you know you missed some details along the way, and it makes it that much more creepy when you re-watch it! Joel Edgerton wrote and directed this film, and incidentally plays the role of Gordo, who will give you chills, as well as pangs of sympathy. This thriller is genuinely twisted, and will make you question those acquaintances of the past, as well as the people you know now, who seem to get ahead in life so effortlessly…
  • The Sacrament – If you like movies about cults, then this one is my top pick! It is so similar to the real story of Jonestown. I’ve seen the footage of Jim Jones, and the actor Gene Jones (wow, that’s creepy right?!) who plays the role of Father in “The Sacrament”, is all too familiar, and sounds a lot like the real Jim Jones. Apart from the use of more modern filming technology, and having cell phones, this film is about as close to what you’d imagine the brutal reality of Jonestown must’ve really been like.
  • Friend Request – All the loners, all the outcasts, all the people who just never fit in, and were friendless in school…this horror film pays homage to them, with a unique tale that will keep you on edge till the end! This film is about a lonely girl who meets a popular girl in college. There seems to be possibility for a friendship, but the outcast girl pushes too hard, too fast, and becomes obsessed with her new acquaintance. Through twists and turns, this is a fast paced plot that will keep you guessing!
  • Unfriended – This is a completely different plot altogether, from the film “Friend Request”. This movie got mixed reviews, but in my opinion it’s deeply unsettling, in a realistic way. The filming style, as well as the script are incredibly organic. There’s plenty of mystery surrounding the character of Laura, who is the girl who commits suicide in the opening scene. Her suicide was filmed and posted online, but there was a different video that was posted of her by someone she knew, that drove her to kill herself in the first place. This movie will give you chills, and make you question who your true friends are.
  • Beneath – This film is fairly short, but it packs a pretty brutal punch! It’s both scary, and emotional, as a young woman struggles to cope with the death of her older sister. The younger sister was still just a young girl, when she and her sister got in a car crash. The car subsequently caught fire, and the younger sister managed to escape, but endured guilt because she did not try to pull her sister out of the car. The older sister was badly burned, and on life support before her husband had to make a final, difficult decision. Ever since then, the younger sister hasn’t been able to shake the feeling that her sister may have been buried alive. With virtually no one on her side, she has to believe in her gut feeling when no one else will, and sets out on a mission to unravel the mystery of why she continues to have visions, about a fate she wasn’t privy to.
  • 13 Sins – Okay, this movie is a head trip! Just when you think you know what’s about to happen, the plot gets even weirder! Despite the somewhat generic sounding title, this movie will take you on a crazy journey, as one man strives to win a game that will test his will, his courage, his morals, and will make him question everything about his life. When offered the chance to win enough money to pay for his wedding, his credit card debts, care for his mentally challenged brother, and money to send his unborn child to college one day, he takes a leap of faith, and finds himself playing a game that will test him in every way possible. What exactly is this game? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!
  • The Green Inferno – This movie gave me panic attacks, for real! I did not know what to expect from one scene to the next from this film. It delivered for sure in shock value! “The Green Inferno” will challenge those with an adventurous nature, making them rethink the notion of traveling to distant places, and whether or not to risk their lives in the name of a cause.
  • The Tortured – This indie film is a diamond in the rough! I discovered this film when I was living in Korea. This was in 2011, and the movie was incredibly shocking and edgy to me! I loved the revenge plot that this couple planned to carry out on the man who savagely murdered their son. The film is fast paced from the get-go, and just when you think it’s safe to take a breather, the film punches you in the gut with a major revelation!
  • The Conjuring 2 – In my opinion, this film was a stand-alone great movie, sequel or not. The film’s story was solid, and the true story behind it set an eerie backdrop. This movie has plenty of scenes that will make you jump, and it’s best watched alone, in the dark, at night. You’ll definitely be rattled by the most insane story of a possessed little girl since “The Exorcist”!
  • Annabelle – An offshoot film of “The Conjuring”, this movie weaves a terrifying tale of a most demonic doll. The scares in this film are a lot of fun, while still being legitimately scary. This is classic horror for a modern era! You’ll never look at antique dolls in the same way again.
  • Sinister – This film is unnerving in a very primal way. It’s subtle, it’s quiet, and it’s well…sinister. If you’re brave enough to watch it by yourself, in the dead of night, then I commend you. There is something voyeuristic about this movie, seeing the snuff films that are found within the house, and the way the found footage is so old adds a feeling of authenticity that you might not have gotten otherwise. The deaths are creative, cruel, disgusting, and believable. Props to Ethan Hawke for adding a layer of flair to this film!
  • Mama – Guillermo del Toro created a haunting masterpiece with this inventive fable. This movie’s fresh plot pondered what would happen if two children were left abandoned, in the woods…until you realize that they were not alone. (For the record, the little girls in this film did a beautiful acting job!) Once found, they are taken in by their Uncle Luke, and his girlfriend. Still, Mama lurks in the shadows… So, is Mama a friend or foe? I think the answer to that is subjective, which is what makes this movie so brilliant! The monstrous imagery in this film, is pure del Toro! It’s striking, grotesque, decadent, and distinctive. (On a side note, this movie will make you terrified of moths!) Every time I watch this film, it feels like a spooky bedtime story for the ages! I don’t think there will ever be a movie quite like this one again.

So, there you go. 21 modern scary/thrilling movies for you to watch! Grab some candy and popcorn, and don’t forget to shudder and scream! Just remember: scares aren’t limited to October 31st. Happy Halloween, all you horror film buffs!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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