10 Great Horror Movies From the 2000s That Choose Subtlety Over Gore

10 Great Horror Movies From the 2000s That Choose Subtlety Over Gore
Image credit: Legion-Media, Magnolia Pictures

No jumpscares. No gore. Just good ol’ harrowing suspense that will leave you clawing at your own arms, increasingly terrified.

10. It Comes at Night (2017)

If it’s not a zombie apocalypse movie, it’s rare to see the “Earth is devastated by a pandemic of a highly contagious disease” as a horror movie premise, but It Comes at Night does it — and does it beautifully. In this movie, it’s the suspense that gets you, as a family barely surviving alone in the lost world is joined by another young couple. Watch It Comes at Night on Max, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

9. The Endless (2017)

It’s hard to look best at one’s past when it’s terrifying, but two adult brothers decide to do it. As kids, they escaped a bizarre UFO death cult, but years later, they receive a tape inviting them back and decide to check in with their old “family.” But soon, they learn that no one of the cultists sent them the tape. Something else is at play…

Watch The Endless on Apple TV and Prime Video.

8. The Sacrament (2013)

The best part of any horror or thriller story is when you see that “based on real events” mark. The Sacrament largely reenacts the horrifying events at the Eden Parish cult, following a team trailing a man who decided to join the cult. The slow-burn, painfully unnerving pace keeps on the edge of your seat as you watch.

Watch The Sacrament on Apple TV and Prime Video.

7. A Dark Song (2016)

The occult often goes hand-in-hand with the ignorant, but not this time. A grieving mother specifically calls upon an occultist to enact a months-long ritual and contact her deceased son from beyond the veil. The house is sealed, and there’s no turning back from the ritual. Claustrophobic and filled with terror, this film is a slow killer.

Watch A Dark Song on Apple TV and Prime Video.

6. She Will (2021)

The best horror movie is the one that almost doesn’t feel like one, or something to that effect. It’s not trying hard to scare you. She Will falls under this category perfectly: the film follows an aging movie star who learns about the witch burnings at the place of her retreat and realizes she can tap into their generational painful power.

Watch She Will on Hulu and Prime Video.

5. We Are What We Are (2013)

No one trusts extra-reclusive folks, and rightfully so. The Parker family avoids contact with their neighbors for the most part and is known to follow some ancient orders. The townsfolk are content with the status quo of not interacting with them, but once a torrential downpour uncovers the family’s secrets, they must act quickly.

Watch We Are What We Are on Prime Video.

4. The Awakening (1980)

The choice between duty and love can be harrowing in itself, but accompanied by a chain of blood-chilling murders turn it into the cinematic horror experience of a lifetime. The Awakening follows an archeologist whose young daughter gets possessed by an ancient evil — and now he has to kill her or let the world burn.

Watch The Awakening on Prime Video.

3. Session 9 (2001)

You know you’re in for a ride when at the start of a movie, you follow an asbestos cleaning crew into a genuinely terrifying abandoned psychiatric ward. When they begin experiencing unsettling phenomena and finding tapes of the ward’s insane patient revealing the events that once transpired there, you better breathe slowly.

Watch Session 9 on Apple TV and Prime Video.

2. The Orphanage (2007)

Happy memories keep many of us afloat, and it’s always nice to return to them. Years later, a woman returns to the orphanage she grew up in with her husband and son and plans to restore and reopen it. But soon after their arrival, the kid claims he found a new friend: a ghost of a boy who lived here before… A very weird boy.

Watch The Orphanage on Netflix and Prime Video.

1. The Others (2001)

World War II has finally ended, and a woman and her kids await the return of their soldier daddy. To stay safe from the war, they remain in an old house on an island, and that house is always dark: the kids are extremely photosensitive. Everything seems good, but as time passes, the woman grows convinced that they aren’t alone in the mansion: in its ever-dark corners something else is lurking.

Watch The Others on Netflix and Prime Video.