EJ Moreno looks at overly-hated 2000s horror movies…
For horror fans, the 2000s was a decade we often like to forget about. It’s far from the 80s heyday and still trying to find its unique voice within the genre. It felt like all we had were gory torture-filled movies or Platinum Dune-era remakes. But it’s not all doom and gloom when looking at horror in the 00s, especially when you look at some overly hated movies.
We’ll look at seven underrated horror films that deserve a second chance in this new generation. We’ve included films that all have negative scores on Rotten Tomatoes and but have gained a cult following in recent years. Make sure to share your favorites after checking out our picks below…
Alien vs. Predator
Putting together two of the most iconic space horror franchises shouldn’t work, and in a few ways, Alien vs. Predator is too messy for its good. But when you look back at it now, this has more enjoyable moments than we’d see from either franchise.
By 2004, both Predator and Alien needed a makeover, and this offered something fresh instead of failed attempts at recapturing the original magic. We got to see a more anti-hero position from the Yautja, and the Xenomorphs felt terrifying after years of feeling like bugs. Sadly, the human characters lack depth, and the action isn’t as decisive as you’d hope. But by the end, you’ve seen so many excellent practical effects and hilarious WTF moments that you overlook a lot.
Following Freddy vs. Jason from a few years earlier, you’d think we would’ve got more of these bad-ass mashups. But we can enjoy the wild 00s trend while it lasted.
It’s easy to call this writer a Paul Verhoeven apologist; the filmmaker understands what I want to see in a movie. And in his first full attempt as a horror filmmaker, he offered a wholly overlooked bad-ass movie with Hollow Man, starring Kevin Bacon.
The Invisible Man by way of Verhoeven should’ve been a massive hit, but the general public’s interest in the filmmaker began to slip by this 2000 release. Roger Ebert gave it a 2 out of 4 stars but noted the film’s impressive visual effects. Again, this film has all the makings of a classic but settled on a cult classic. With impressive VFX and a deliciously hammy performance from Bacon, you can easily see why there’s at least something to appreciate here.
Hollow Man wasn’t winning any awards, even though it was nominated for Best Visual Effects, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate Verhoeven’s only genuine horror attempt.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
It’s hard for me to praise 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre because I know the trend would later start with countless remakes. Still, looking at the film with its own merits, it’s a remake that earnestly attempts to honor the original but keep it modern.
The most divisive aspect, especially amongst horror fans, is the graphic nature of the film. You may remember the original Texas Chain Saw as a brutal film, but it’s most implied violence and a perfect tone. The 2003 remake is nasty and gory, which can throw off a lot of diehard Leatherface fans. But this is post-9/11 horror, so everything needed to be intense. Given its time period and slasher peers, it’s a miracle this is even a watchable horror film.
Somehow, the movie is more than watchable; it’s a graphic remaining of one of the most iconic slashers done well and finally gives fans a Leatherface to fear.
Stay Alive director William Brent Bell is a guilty pleasure filmmaker of mine. He’s come into his own, helming the wonderful underrated Orphan: First Kill, but looking back at his first feature shows his growth. Still, this is more fun than people remember.
Stay Alive takes the premise of “you die in a game, you die in real life” and puts the film through a very 00s lens. It suffers from a very 2006 aesthetic in terms of pop culture and filmmaking, but that almost makes it nostalgic to look back on now. What I really enjoy about the film is its “warm blanket” quality; it’s a comfort movie for many of its fans. It may not be perfect, but it’s one of the films that instantly finds a place in the heart of its viewers.
If you miss the toxic gamer bro culture most of us grew up on, this is one of those oddly hilarious revisits; you also get the bonus of fun kills with that.
This spot could’ve gone to any Rob Zombie film, someone easily nominated for the most over-hated horror filmmaker of all time. But we’ll focus on Halloween, Zombie’s remake of the slasher classic and one of his most divisive works ever.
We were at the height of remake mania in 2007, and Rob Zombie had the daunting task of tackling John Carpenter’s beloved original. The Blumhouse requels proved that it’s nearly impossible to recapture the original magic, which makes the Zombie version a bit fresher in retrospect. It is not perfect, but it feels like the best way to mix the original story with a newer point of view. We also got more of Michael Myers’ backstory, and the idea of more time with The Shape isn’t bad.
The sequel in 2009 doesn’t hold the same solid work this possesses, but that’s another movie that’s a bit overly hated. As mentioned earlier, we could make a list of just underrated Zombie movies.
In 2008, The Ruins was one of those films that took the internet horror community by storm. While it didn’t have the same shock factor as some of its peers, the film still packed a punch and gave fans some real WTF moments.
Looking back, props to the casting department for supplying the film with a solid group of actors. Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, and Shawn Ashmore all overperform in the low-budget horror film, adding a sense of absolute terror to the overall project. Along with some killer gore, especially one scene in particular, you got a memorable viewing experience. It also helps cliches and tropes of the genre don’t weigh down The Ruins; it’s a film that can work whenever.
Of all the films included here, I believe The Ruins is ripe for a revisit. It would almost fit in well with the A24 and Blumhouse era we have now, and the scares still work.
Nothing reeks of the 00s more than starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in an action horror film. And surprisingly so, it’s a great rewatch today.
To bring up another of Ebert’s iconic reviews, he surprisingly enjoyed Van Helsing, the 2004 film from criminally overlooked Stephen Sommers. The film does rely too much on its VFX, as Ebert states in his review, but it’s also safe to say it helps the film deliver on its monster-mash promises. You want a movie where the titular monster hunter fights some of the most iconic Universal creations, and you get just that. Also, say what you want, but I loved seeing that Wolfman vs Dracula fight.
As much as Universal keeps trying to push out these Universal Horror icons, it’s safe that nothing has come close to this outside of 2020’s The Invisible Man.
What are your favorite underrated or overheated 00s horror movies? Is there a film that deserves a critical revaluation? Share your thoughts and picks by reaching out to Flickering Myth’s social channels @FlickeringMyth…