10 Underrated Horror Movies From The Early 2000s, According To Rotten Tomatoes

The early 2000s saw a myriad of masterfully made horror films. Some were Japanese hit remakes that American directors and producers bring their own touch to seduce a Western audience. Others were original works that brought new stories to the big screen or added a unique twist to a stereotypical genre.

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However, some horror films from this period received negative reviews from critics who overemphasized minor flaws contained in an otherwise good story. Many of these films are worth revisiting for their distinctive plot twist, strong cast performances, or story that failed to please an overly eager audience.


What Lies Beneath (2000): Rated 47% on Rotten Tomatoes

A middle-aged couple seems to lead a perfect life. But when Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) becomes convinced that his neighbor murdered his wife, she witnesses unexplained events in his house. But these disturbances are caused by something that strikes much closer to home.

With Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford as leaders, and Robert Zemeckis as a director, critics had no choice but to blame the script for the film’s few flaws. The plot does a great job of misleading its audience. Unlike most movies in its genre, it dwells on character development instead of jumping from one jump scare to the next. The protagonists give good, solid performances, and a ghost story that doesn’t involve a teenager or a child is quite refreshing.

From Hell (2001): Rated 57% on Rotten Tomatoes

Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) tracks down Jack the Ripper as he targets prostitutes in 19th century London.

Many critics chose to reject this film because the plot was not based on fact. It was based on a conspiracy theory surrounding Prince Albert and an illegitimate child he had with a prostitute. Although this theory has been proven wrong by historians, there is no denying that it is a great story. Others disagreed with the casting of two Americans in British roles, Depp as Abberline and Heather Graham like Mary Kelly, one of the prostitutes. Depp’s portrayal of the Inspector as a depressed, opium-addicted widower brings even more darkness to the film’s already dark atmosphere. Although her British accent leaves something to be desired, Graham is convincing in her role.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003): 37% on Rotten Tomatoes

Five young friends are on a road trip to see a concert when they meet a young woman on the road. She looks traumatized. Seeking help, the group runs into the murderous Hewitt family. They find themselves running for their lives as Thomas Hewitt wielding a chainsaw (Andrew Bryniarski), Leatherface, pursues them.

The fact that the main criticism of this film was its gore despite the words “chainsaw” and “massacre” in its title is puzzling. Several members of the original film crew, including the cinematographer Daniel Pearl, went back to work on this one. His disturbing camera angles heighten the sense of dread and entrapment throughout the film. The cast gave good performances, but R. Lee ErmeySheriff Hoyt’s interpretation was troubling.

RELATED: Every ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Movie, Ranked

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005): rated 44% on Rotten Tomatoes

Emily Rose (Jennifer Charpentier) is tormented by a demon who has possessed her. His family hires a priest, Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), perform an exorcism which fails and leads to the death of Emily Rose. Father Moore was then charged with negligent homicide. Erin Bruner (Laura Linney), the lawyer representing him, puts his career on the line and lets his client tell his story by putting him on the stand.

Based on the tragic true story of Anneliese Michelfans of The Exorcist hoping to be served the same recipe were quite deceived by this film. The possession scenes, while disturbing, contain neither gore nor vulgarity. The story is told in flashbacks during the gripping courtroom scenes. The presence of the demon looming around Father Moore and his lawyer serves to maintain the feeling of dread throughout the film. And although it’s a horror story, the ending leaves the audience wondering about the nature of human suffering.

The Amityville Horror (2005): Rated 23% on Rotten Tomatoes

The Lutzes are looking for a new home. They buy a nice house on Long Island for a bargain, despite knowing that an entire family was murdered inside. Shortly after moving in, the Lutzes begin to experience disturbing events.

Even though the movie strays from the real stories of the Defoes and the Lutzes, this remake is worth watching if only for the cast’s gripping performances. In particular, the subdued and chilling interpretation of Ryan Reynolds like a possessed George Lutz. Although a bit overzealous, the gory scenes are effective, and the director (Andrew Douglas) does one last unexpected scare to leave the audience shaken as the credits roll.

The Messengers (2007): Rated 11% on Rotten Tomatoes

A young family looking for a fresh start moves into a dilapidated old farmhouse. Unbeknownst to them, the previous owners were murdered by an unknown assailant and now haunt the property.

This film was criticized for its slow pace and its borrowings from previous horror films. But the Pang Brothers‘ Choosing long pauses helps build tension and makes scary scenes more impactful. While some of the tropes have already been seen, the plot is supported by a strong cast of actors, with a young Kristen Stewart playing the teenage daughter in a remarkable unwavering performance.

The Eye (2008): Rated 22% on Rotten Tomatoes

Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) lost her sight as a child. Years later, she regains the ability to see after a corneal transplant. But along with the gift of sight, these corneas also bring the curse of seeing ghosts.

Criticized as just another non-original Japanese remake, the US version sticks close to its source material. Alba gives a steady and unassuming performance maintaining the film’s tension throughout. Ghostly apparitions serve their purpose in their spooky character. While the ending is a little underwhelming, the surprising plot twist when Sydney finally sees a photo of herself redeems this film entirely.

RELATED: Must-See Ghost Movies

The Ruins (2008): Rated 49% on Rotten Tomatoes

A group of tourists on vacation in Mexico visit ancient Mayan ruins. They are immediately confronted by Mayan villagers who force them up into the ruins. Trapped at the top, the young tourists soon realize that the vines that surround the ruins are thirsty for blood.

This unique plot, written by Scott Smith and based on his bestselling novel, was a refreshing option at the time among ghost and slasher films. The story wastes no time putting its protagonists in immediate danger and doesn’t shy away from the gory scenes it depicts. The plot twist is terrifying, and Smith always manages to give his film a somewhat gratifying conclusion.

The Strangers (2008): Rated 48% on Rotten Tomatoes

A young couple spending the night in an isolated house are terrorized by three masked intruders who have chosen them as victims.

Loosely based on Tate Murders, this film plays with its protagonists and its audience until the decisive end. Hailed by scathing reviews for its lack of character development, the film makes up for it with some genuine psychological horror. Scenes where the audience is aware of the intruders inside the house but the protagonists are not are exceptionally well crafted and effective in creating tension and instilling a terrible sense of foreboding.

Friday the 13th (2009): Rated 25% on Rotten Tomatoes

A group of friends camping near Abandoned Camp Crystal Lake are slaughtered by Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears). Six weeks later, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) shows up in town to look for his missing sister. He encounters a group of friends heading to a cabin near Crystal Lake, and Jason is quick to track them down as well.

Those expecting a remake of the original were unhappy with this new film. However, this reinvention has its merits. Jason’s movies were never meant to elicit sympathy for his victims. It’s all about the murders and the originality with which Jason commits them. Jason is a fast killing machine in this version, making every scene he’s in a tense scene. And the unexpected plot twist does something few slasher movies have done; make the public feel sympathy for the killer.

NEXT:10 Not-So-Scary Horror Movies For Those New To The Genre

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