Modern Horror

A 21st Century Horror Movie Breakdown by Sub-Genres

A recent article broke down the top horror movies based on different sub-genres within the vast genre of horror films. So many classic horror films influenced each upcoming generation that we included just the classics from the last century. Nevertheless, the past 20 years have been so good and fascinating that we already know we missed some beloved films to be included. 

So please enjoy, and check us out on our different pages for more content. 

Torture Porn

The most engaging fact about horror movies is that they keep up with the times. What Post World War 2 did for the rise of more realistic horror, and what Vietnam did for the birth of the modern Slasher, 9/11, and the war on terror gave a new trend of splatter movies called torture porn. 

In 2004, a young man named James Wan directed this small $1.2 million serial killer, testing his kidnapping victims’ morals and egocentrism by ordering one to kill the other to survive. Enough people wanted to escape reality and see this movie about punishment for it to get $103 million at the global box office. A new pop culture phenomenon was born and the rest of history. Torture porn was a box office smash, multiple franchises were born, and some of the most disturbing movies in film history came out.


I don’t necessarily love and enjoy how this kind of storytelling went out of control. But I think this is a subject about modern horror and decided to bring to the attention some relevant films that I believe have some significance in the art form or as part of the horror genre. With that said, we don’t condone the piracy of banned movies. Neither to watch them with minors or any unsuspecting adult who refuses to be engaged.

Martyrs (2008)

Director: Pascar Laugiel

Along with the torture porn that took Hollywood by storm, Europeans had their Extremity films (known as the New Wave Extremity movement). These European films were characterized by graphic depictions of torture, mutilation, rape, and explicit sexual activity. These films were often considered purely exploitative, but some have a fitting subject to tell in this transgressive matter. Our pick for the top movie in this category is no exception. 

Martyrs follows two abuse survivors seeking revenge. The full-length feature is 99 minutes of brutal violence and nihilism. Not everyone survives this nasty movie, but if you do, you’ll probably be hyperventilating and trying to calm down during the credits. Somehow, my experience as a victim of child abuse was cathartic. Weirdly, the most extreme pictures can touch a person’s heart. 

You can be tormented by Martyrs for free on Vudu

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Antichrist (2009), Director: Lars Von Trier
  2. A Serbian Film (2010), Director: Srđan Spasojević
  3. Hostel (2005), Director: Eli Roth


Now that we’ve covered the bleakest part of modern horror, we can turn our attention to the supernatural. For the past 10 years, there has been an influx of great supernatural-themed horror films. Part of the “elevated horror” craze is in part of these supernatural aspects converged with well-made cinematography and dense subject matter.

The Babadook (2014)

Director: Jennifer Kent 

Australian psychological horror film The Babadook came out in 2014 and has all the traits of what we can expect in supernatural horror movies ever since it came out. The story about a single mother confronting her son’s fear has some of the most haunting visuals in recent memory. It brings up issues like grief, depression, motherhood, and autism. 

A new direction for the supernatural was started by The Conjuring. But, The Babadook connected all the art-house elements of cinema needed to elevate the subgenre and horror cinema in general. 

You can watch The Babadook on Hulu

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Hereditary (2018), Director: Ari Aster
  2. The Witch (2015), Director: Robert Eggers
  3. The Conjuring (2013), Director: James Wan

Okay, here are more elevated horror movies so nobody kills me:

Since we brought up the “elevated horror” dub, there are movies worth mentioning. What critics and fans call elevated (for lack of a better term) are some of the best horror movies ever made and proof that we’re living in a golden age of relevancy of horror cinema. 

Get Out (2017)

Director: Jordan Peele

In early 2017, Jordan Peele’s full-length debut took us by surprise. It came at the correct time and will still be relevant for years to come in our society. This psychological thriller follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) spending a weekend with her girlfriend (Allison Williams) and her overly accommodating family, only to discover something sinister is afoot. Of course, that’s in addition to the racial tension going on.

Moving forward like a Twilight Zone episode, this social satire goes to unexpected places while touching themes of race relations and the anxiety black people suffer in this society. Peele knocked it out of the park with his first film, and he hasn’t slowed down since with a follow-up elevated horror work and a spooky adventure in the same vein as some Spielberg classics. 

Get Out is still as pertinent as six years ago and can be revisited on Netflix.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. The Lighthouse (2019), Director: Robert Eggers
  2. It Follows (2014), Director: David Robert Mitchell. Arguments that this is the one that started the “elevated horror” era we’re living, I’ll accept it. 
  3.  Suspiria (2018), Director: Luca Guadagnino


Remember when there were a lot of zombie movies all the time, and many of them were comedies, and we watched a boring TV show cause it was based on a zombie comic book? Seems like it was a long time ago when real life felt like a zombie apocalypse in the past few years. The 2000s and 2010s gave us a lot of good gory zombie fun. The more we got, the more we craved, like living deads getting brains for dinner. 

Train To Busan (2016)

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

No matter what kind of movie you like, there is a zombie flick from the last 20 years for you. No matter if you’re into horror, comedy, or sci-fi post-apocalyptic thrills. You’ll get your favorite undead flavor. But no movie united more people than 2016’s Korean action drama, Train to Busan. 

South Korean cinema has conquered the world over the last two decades with its extensive genre-bending storytelling. Train to Busan is at the top of Korean horror, along with movies like The Medium or I Saw The Devil. The best Korean zombie movie is also one of the best internationally made. Few action-packed make you care about the characters like this one, and it’s a thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat like no other zombie film in modern memory. 

You can be thrilled in that train for free on Amazon.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Shaun of the Dead (2004), Director: Edgar Wright
  2. Rec (2007), Directors: Paco Plaza, Jaume Balagueró
  3. 28 Days Later (2004), Director: Danny Boyle

Next Page: Slasher, J-Horror, and Found Footage


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