The 10 Most Heart-Stopping Films of the Last 10 Years

Since the days of, say, the Halloween movies, it seems like the stylish way to scare the audience is with grimy, nearly-realistic scenarios, rather than the traditional blood, gore, and ridiculous terror worlds. We’re creeped out by the dirty, grungy worlds and the long, chilly suspense game, but what’s going on with the good old horror movie?

Maybe Sweeney Todd used up all of the fake blood, or maybe filmmakers are trying to say too much about the future, but the thriller world has found itself lacking. So what’s been good this past decade?

Red Art Posters

  1. Django Unchained (2012) 

Fans of Tarantino don’t get a jump out of his work often, we owe our gratitude to the man who carries that torch, who shares a first name with one of the most big-time prisons for some of the most notorious criminals. Once you mix slavery, everybody’s favorite Nazi, and Samuel L. Jackson under Quentin Tarantino’s watchful eye, however, you can rest assured that you’re in for some intensely physical, violent, and bloody drama.

David Fincher's Gone Girl

  1. Gone Girl (2014) 

This one was interesting because it maintained some of the roots of the graphics, explicit horror genre while playing with the psychology twist that audiences really like these days. It seems like most of the gore happens just in the premise, but it’s good to be suspicious of a movie that opens with Ben Affleck describing the base of a skull.  It’s probably not going to be a typical drama after that monologue.

Freeway Killer (2010) 

  1. Freeway Killer (2010) 

It was scary because it’s true.  Freeway Killer recounts the insanity of William Bonin, the serial killer who was active in Southern California in 1979 and 1980, with twenty-one counts of murder to his conviction and another fifteen probable kills. His M.O. included sexual assault, torture, and beating victims to death before dumping them along the freeway. When Hollywood works with material like that, that in-your-face thriller style re-emerges.


  1. The Cabin in the Woods (2012) 

When Joss Whedon’s name shows up in the writing credits, you know the film is going to hurt you and that you’re going to love it. The story follows a simple idea that everyone can connect with, but that also tends to put people on their guard a bit- the isolated vacation spot. By balancing every little flavor of the horror genre, Cabin in the Woods makes you feel like you’re the person being terrorized.


  1. Nightcrawler (2014) 

Does it get more or less grotesque when the story becomes the passive observation of realistically gruesome scenes? Is the camera lens a choice for protection from atrocity or a weapon to inflict all the consumer guilt and pain on the mind? Either way, it makes me feel bad for the LAPD and LAFD if their nights are ever half as busy as those in this flick. And it really makes me think twice about clicking on all of the sensationalized news reports.


  1. Zombieland (2009) 

Because sometimes the apocalypse is more fun with the double-tap. Plus, who doesn’t want to meet zombie Bill Murray? So maybe comedy isn’t  “heart-stopping,” but the refreshing twist on the grimy world in ruins offered by Zombieland deserves a nod and a slot in the movie marathon.

dead snow

  1. Dead Snow (2009) 

While audiences were in stitches over Zombieland, a slightly obnoxious but complementary movie made its way onto the scene in that same year. If you want to find out how medical students, AKA young adults with career aspirations in the grotesque, handle near-hypothermia and Nazi zombies, then this is the movie for you. If that’s never crossed your mind, (1- good, and 2-) you should still watch it and appreciate the dance between Sharknado-level “WTF” and the good ole’ “ew.”

Stephen King's IT

  1. It (2017) 

Thanks to its release year, its budget, its author, and the proven fact that clowns should be outlawed for being too creepy, It is still raking in both critical acclaim and fan praise. The real “screw you, Stephen King” is in the clown look- it perfectly fits that new mold of dirty everything that has you wondering how many hours the costumers spent rolling everything in mud puddles. Because clean, normal, not-undead clown aesthetics just wouldn’t keep viewers up at night the same way.

100 Movie Facts

  1. District 9 (2009) 

I’ll admit- at first I thought this one was kind of going to be a flop. It started out at only the normal levels of unsettling, nothing like the intensity the reviews portrayed. District 9 played the long game, though, and it won critical success and another fan for its trouble, as well as some momentum to put real, dedicated thrillers back into the box office mix.


  1. Carrie (2013) 

If you’re a fan of the thriller, you will know her name.  She is practically synonymous with the genre, and perhaps the one true bright spot in the traditional horror genre this past decade. The moviemakers knew their jobs and updated all of the old favorite tropes to re-engage audiences who needed a reminder of how it’s really done. At any rate, it really forces the viewer to jump out of their skin.

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