There’s still a lot of knee-jerk indignation every time a remake is announced for a classic horror movie. While distaste regarding Hollywood cash-grabs is understandable, and the lack of original ideas within the industry is disconcerting, there’s nothing inherently wrong with reboots. Foreign films, for example, will find a wider audience; also, remakes of forgotten gems can introduce stories and characters to a new generation of aficionados.
Sure, some horror remakes have been abominable, but for every The Thing (2011) and Fright Night (2011) there’s something that hits it out of the park. As the found-footage craze that defined the horror landscape in the 2000’s looks to have finally run its course, expect more filmmakers to look to the past for the next big hit. In 2017, reboots for Flatliners, Halloween, The Bride of Frankenstein, and It are just a few fans can look forward to. Below, in no particular order, are the best horror remakes of the 21st Century so far. If these films can’t persuade you that remakes are often awesome, then nothing will. Enjoy!
Evil Dead (2013, Directed by Fede Alvarez)
There was a time when remaking Sam Raimi’s exemplar of the “cabin in the woods” subgenre of horror would have been considered sacrilegious, but Fede Alvarez’s 2013 reboot was fantastic. It honored its source material while making original contributions to the film’s legacy. The success of Evil Dead absolutely reinvigorated fan love for the franchise and paved the way for the TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead on Starz.
Official Synopsis: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.
Dawn of the Dead (2004, Directed by Zack Snyder)
While zombie purists were irked by Zack Snyder’s fast/rabid zombies (obviously influenced by Danny Boyle’s seminal virus horror 28 Days Later, released in 2002), the remake of George A. Romero’s apocalyptic epic has been extremely well received. Dawn of the Dead was part of a zombie reminiscence that kicked off around the turn of the century, eventually spawning the AMC series The Walking Dead, which brought the undead into mainstream living rooms worldwide.
Official Synopsis: A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman, and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006, Directed by Alexandre Aja)
As one of the most prominent contributors to the New French Extremity film movement, Alexandre Aja brought chilling nihilism and intense violence to his remake of The Hills Have Eyes. This brave and unflinching approach to storytelling made for a compelling and deeply disturbing reboot of Wes Craven’s early classic.
Official Synopsis: A suburban American family is being stalked by a group of psychotic people who live in the desert, far away from civilization.
The Crazies (2010, Directed by Breck Eisner)
Breck Eisner’s remake of The Crazies is more popular that George A. Romero’s original (released in 1973) ever was. The film felt timely, emerging after America’s paranoia over the possibility of a “dirty bomb” or chemical attack. The Crazies exists in that nebulous area in between the zombie and virus subgenres of horror. Watching a picturesque small town in the Midwest descending into chaos is unnerving and devastating.
Official Synopsis: About the inhabitants of a small Iowa town suddenly plagued by insanity and then death after a mysterious toxin contaminates their water supply.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, Directed by Marcus Nispel)
While there was, initially, a lot of resistance to this film (especially from original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen), Marcus Nispel’s remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a hit with established and new horror fans alike. The film made precious few changes in terms of major plot structure, and was anchored by a strong script and an immensely talented young cast. It absolutely reinvigorated the franchise, leading to 2 additional follow-ups with a 3rd, Leatherface, hitting theaters next summer.
Official Synopsis: After picking up a traumatized young hitchhiker, five friends find themselves stalked and hunted by a deformed chainsaw-wielding killer and his family of equally psychopathic killers.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009, Directed by Patrick Lussier)
While the original My Bloody Valentine (Directed by George Mihalka, released in 1981) was great, it was filmed on a shoe-string, resulting in somewhat poor production quality. 2009’s reboot gave the classic story the big budget it needed to make a lasting impression. Even without the 3D element, Patrick Lussier’s remake is a quality upgrade with a fantastic cast.
Official Synopsis: A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine’s Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer’s order and people start turning up dead.
The Ring (2002, Directed by Gore Verbinski)
Vast cultural differences, especially regarding the supernatural, can make Asian horror movies especially difficult to remake for American audiences. While The Grudge and Shutter handled this issue by taking place overseas, The Ring is the most successful Eastern reboot to take place entirely in America. The ghostly antagonist Sumara (played by Daveigh Chase), has become an iconic horror villain scary enough to go toe-to-toe with the worst of them. A sequel, Rings, is slated for release this October.
Official Synopsis: A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.
Last House on the Left (2009, Dennis Iliadis)
While nowhere near as gut-wrenching as Wes Craven’s controversial original, Dennis Iliads’ remake of Last House on the Left contains some vicious black comedy elements that were completely buried in the 1972 version. The success of this remake may have ushered in a bevy of home-invasion themed horror movies (with a turning-of-the-tables twist) that were especially popular in the first half of the 2010’s.
Official Synopsis: After kidnapping and brutally assaulting two young women, a gang unknowingly finds refuge at a vacation home belonging to the parents of one of the victims: a mother and father who devise an increasingly gruesome series of revenge tactics.
Carrie (2013, Directed by Kimberly Peirce)
I’m not saying 2013’s Carrie is better than Brian de Palma’s classic (released in 1976), but it’s not a contest. Still, Kimberly Peirce’s version gets to the heart of characters and their motivations in a way that really connects with the film’s audience on an emotional level. Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore play Carrie and Margaret White respectively, and their chemistry is engrossing and unnerving. At its core, Peirce’s Carrie is a consummate underdog story.
Official Synopsis: A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.
Quarantine (2008, Directed by John Erick Dowdle)
While making a shot-for-shot remake turned out to be a bad idea for Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (1998), it was the perfect choice for John Erick Dowdle’s version of the Spanish horror movie [REC]; the director’s ability to capture the frenetic energy of Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s original is phenomenal. The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for 2011’s sequel Quarantine 2: Terminal, which effectively ended what might have been a popular American franchise.
Official Synopsis: A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC, after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.
What are your favorite horror movie remakes of the 21st Century? Sound off in the Comments section!