There was a lot to take issue with during the 2000s. Low-rise jeans, Hot Topic as a cultural phenomenon, the rise of reality TV, and such a dearth of quality programming that we thought Avatar was something. It was a post 9/11 world, and no one had the rules for how we were supposed to do things in the new normal. For some, the answer was to make a lot of lousy sequels to classic 90s monster movies, like Anaconda 2 and 3. But there were also a lot of classic monster movies that deserve a re-watch even two decades later.
#8 The Cave
There was a whole mess of cave movies in the aughts, capped off by Sanctum in 2011. This one takes the classic approach of explorers searching for answers but find giant monsters. It’s a tried-and-true monster movie formula; cramped spaces, overwhelming darkness, and creepy creatures who evolved away from air and light.
#7 Silent Hill
It’s debatable whether Pyramid Head counts as a monster because he’s so humanoid, but the whole town is, I guess, technically the monster. The scene where Pyramid Head rips the skin of a townswoman, and Dark Alessa rising to the surface are both forever-haunting.
#6 King Kong
Riding high off his LotR success, Peter Jackson went on to direct Adrien Brody, Jack Black, and Naomi Watts in a classic monster movie re-make. It got off to a slow start on release. Eventually, it became the fourth highest-grossing film in Universal Pictures history. The giant bug scene is one of the creepiest monster sequences on film.
Talk about kicking off the aughts with a bang. In Evolution, David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, and Julianne Moore team up as community college professors fighting fast-evolving alien DNA with their under-achieving students. It’s hilarious, if stupid, and a fun re-watch if you want to relive the decade’s better relics.
#4 The Descent
Of the many, many cave movies of the aughts (were we going through something as a country?), The Descent was an instant classic. There’s intrigue, betrayal, and some genuinely terrifying cave monsters. Among the most brutal scenes is when the main protagonist, Sarah, has to kill her wounded friend to save her from being eaten alive.
#3 The Mist
This movie didn’t get enough credit for being an exceptional re-make of a boring monster movie. The ensemble cast has some real treats, like Marcia Gay Harden as a religious zealot who garners an obedient following, and Andre Keith Braughner. Walking Dead fans will delight in Melissa McBride as a pre-Carol badass.
#2 The Host
The West still slept on South Korean films, even after this smash-hit. But anyone familiar with The Host wasn’t surprised by the success of Parasite a decade later. The plot doesn’t pull its punches, and it defies most of the typical monster tropes.
Remember, this was before we all got sick of shakycam being synonymous with low-budget-trying-to-look-high-production. It was a revolutionary way to shoot a CGI-heavy monster film. Cloverfield’s plot took a bold stance by (spoiler alert) leaving no survivors behind–in some brutal ways. The monster sat in the perfect center of the scary/weird/gross Venn diagram.