10 Scariest British Horror Films Of This Century | Best British Horror Movies
The horror genre found itself in an odd spot around the turn of the century. The late 1990s were overrun by copycats after Scream revitalized the genre with its innovative spin on the classic slasher tale. While there were some excellent sequels (I Know What You Did Last Summer) and fantastic variations on the premise (Final Destination), nothing could match Wes Craven’s masterpiece.
While the United States struggled to find its place in the post-Scream world, the United Kingdom rose to the occasion and began producing original horror stories. Before The Walking Dead sparked the zombie craze, this UK horror invasion was particularly powerful in the early to mid-2000s. If Netflix’s horror section is looking a little bare, here are eleven current British horror masterpieces to keep you awake at night (and leave you in stitches).
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28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later, a very important film, is credited with helping to resurrect the zombie genre. Set in London, twenty-eight days after a virus has decimated the country, bicycle courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) emerges from a coma. When Jim learns that the virus has turned its victims into rage-filled killers, he joins forces with a small number of survivors to find a safe haven.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film’s depiction of an abandoned Britain overrun by a viral outbreak has been re-evaluated. Due to recent events, scenes of survivors traversing deserted city streets hit home much strongly.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
28 Weeks Later had a lot to live up to as the sequel to one of the most critically praised horror films of the 2000s. Fortunately, the film is a solid sequel that, in the opinion of some fans (including this author), outperforms the original. The film follows a second wave of the virus that engulfs the putative safe zone six months after the previous infection ravaged Britain.
28 Weeks Later is a bigger and bolder sequel with an ensemble cast that includes Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Idris Elba, Imogen Poots, and Robert Carlyle.
Attack the Block (2011)
Attack the Block is a film about a young gang who is forced to defend their house from a swarm of alien invaders. It is set in the ethnically varied council estates of South London. Attack the Block is more of a Sci-Fi action comedy than a straight-up horror picture, but it still manages to shock as the residents combat the extraterrestrials.
To appropriately reflect the South London region, director Joe Cornish recruited largely young, unknown performers. Before their roles in Star Wars and Doctor Who, respectively, Attack the Block helped launch the careers of John Boyega (in his feature picture debut) and Jodie Whittaker.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Werewolves have yet to have their day in the cinematic sun, often being considered as second-class citizens to zombies and vampires. Dog Soldiers follows a small group of British soldiers as they conduct a training exercise in the woods and come into contact with the vicious canines.
The soldiers seek refuge in a nearby cottage, where they join forces with a local farmer in order to make it through the night. With its horrific practical effects, the picture harkens back to classic horror films like The Evil Dead, while its siege scenario evokes John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, but with more fur and teeth.
Eden Lake (2008)
Eden Lake is easily the most melancholy film on this list, following a young couple (Kelly Reilly and a pre-Hollywood Michael Fassbender) on a vacation to the lonely countryside. They run into a group of teenagers who torture the couple with homicidal intent while they’re there.
Eden Lake is a difficult film to see. The brutality is realistic and frequently done on individuals who do not deserve it, demonstrating that even the most heinous monsters are human. Eden Lake is a well-made and well-acted picture that any prospective horror enthusiast should see. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to shower afterwards.
Host is a brilliant concept that was released at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film follows a group of friends as they stage a séance using the Zoom web service. It gets more horrifying than a Monday morning work call once an evil spirit enters the gathering.
Due to forced social separation, each actor set up their own cameras, lighting, and stunts, making the picture a technical wonder. The video moves at a fast pace as the pals are taken out one by one in about 56 minutes.
Saint Maud (2019)
After failing to save a patient’s life, Katie (Morfydd Clark), a young nurse, converts to Catholicism and relocates to a coastal village. Katie becomes enamored with the other lady while working as a private caregiver for a former dancer in order to rescue her soul.
As the supposedly humble Katie’s preoccupation progresses from caring to sinister, intervening in her patient’s life in the name of God, Clark is terrific in the starring part. The audience is torn between pity and anxiety for the unpredictable protagonist, culminating to a dramatic conclusion that will stay with you for a long time.
Severance is a wonderful horror-comedy that combines the terror of being compelled to attend on a business team-building retreat with the threat of deranged murders. Severance, described as a cross between The Office and Friday the 13th, works by establishing its characters before the slaughter begins.
Gordon (Andy Nyman), the quintessential employee who gets on everyone’s nerves by being overly exuberant, and Richard (Tim McInnerny), the inept boss with no self-confidence, are among the noteworthy members of the cast. Severance is plenty of humor and a perfect choice for a group movie night, despite some graphic sequences.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is arguably the greatest horror comedy of all time, as well as the best British horror film of the twenty-first century. When the zombie apocalypse strikes Britain, slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) is forced to become the hero as he tries to win back his ex-girlfriend while dodging the hordes of the undead with his couch-surfing best pal Ed (Nick Frost).
The film launched filmmaker Edgar Wright’s career as well as those of Frost and Pegg, who co-wrote the picture with Wright. The screenplay is brilliant, full of hilarious situations and cunning references to previous scenes, allowing the picture to strike the perfect mix between gut-busting chuckles and true terror.
The Descent (2005)
The Descent, the follow-up to Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers, is a claustrophobic nightmare. Sarah is persuaded by her friends to join a cave-exploring expedition after the sad deaths of her husband and little daughter. The women are forced to flee the cannibalistic creatures that reside within the soil after becoming trapped inside the undiscovered cave system.
At a time when women were frequently misrepresented in the horror genre, the picture was unique for having an all-female cast. The film’s central topic is female friendship, as the gang is forced to rely on one another while they strive to return to the surface.