We’re celebrating 25 years of Rotten Tomatoes with a look back on some of the most celebrated genre movies of each year, since 1998! Right now we look at horror, with each title selected using our recommendation formula, a calculation based on the Tomatometer that prioritizes titles which stood out among critics and fans, combined with a pinch of curatorial love from our editors.
The guide begins with 1998’s The Ring, whose 2002 remake kickstarted a rash of Japanese and horror adaptations in America. And Asian horror overall is well-represented, as critics and audiences aligned on Audition, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Host, and Train to Busan.
The top 2000s horror movies are almost an exclusively international affair, with a swath of countries representing, like Spain (The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage), United Kingdom (28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, The Descent), and Sweden (Let the Right One In).
America starts to make a comeback with 2009’s Zombieland and the satirical The Cabin the Woods, before launching into blockbuster territory with the classic-styled The Conjuring. Since then, horror has had a resurgent decade, with low-budget sensations (The Babadook), social thrillers (Get Out, His House), and sci-fi (A Quiet Place).
Adjusted Score: 99363%
Critics Consensus: Ringu combines supernatural elements with anxieties about modern technology in a truly frightening and unnerving way.
Adjusted Score: 85875%
Critics Consensus: An audacious, unsettling Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike, Audition entertains as both a grisly shocker and a psychological drama.
Adjusted Score: 91378%
Critics Consensus: The strong female cast and biting satire of teenage life makes Ginger Snaps far more memorable than your average werewolf movie — or teen flick.
Adjusted Score: 97177%
Critics Consensus: Creepily atmospheric and haunting, The Devil’s Backbone is both a potent ghost story and an intelligent political allegory.
Adjusted Score: 94817%
Critics Consensus: Kinetically directed by Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later is both a terrifying zombie movie and a sharp political allegory.
Adjusted Score: 86573%
Critics Consensus: Restrained but disturbing, A Tale of Two Sisters is a creepily effective, if at times confusing, horror movie.
Adjusted Score: 99493%
Critics Consensus: Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit.
Adjusted Score: 92585%
Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film.
Adjusted Score: 98578%
Critics Consensus: As populace pleasing as it is intellectually satisfying, The Host combines scares, laughs, and satire into a riveting, monster movie.
Adjusted Score: 93499%
Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood.
Adjusted Score: 105126%
Critics Consensus: Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Adjusted Score: 98842%
Critics Consensus: Wickedly funny and featuring plenty of gore, Zombieland is proof that the zombie subgenre is far from dead.
Adjusted Score: 96619%
Critics Consensus: Similar to the original in all the right ways — but with enough changes to stand on its own — Let Me In is the rare Hollywood remake that doesn’t add insult to inspiration.
Adjusted Score: 103527%
Critics Consensus: The Cabin in the Woods is an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary — frequently all at the same time.
Adjusted Score: 89506%
Critics Consensus: Director Ben Wheatley and writer-stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram deliver a wicked road trip movie that successfully walks the line between dark comedy and horror.
Adjusted Score: 94487%
Critics Consensus: Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares.
Adjusted Score: 107474%
Critics Consensus: The Babadook relies on real horror rather than cheap jump scares — and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.
Adjusted Score: 103919%
Critics Consensus: Green Room delivers unapologetic genre thrills with uncommon intelligence and powerfully acted élan.
Adjusted Score: 100460%
Critics Consensus: Train to Busan delivers a thrillingly unique — and purely entertaining — take on the zombie genre, with fully realized characters and plenty of social commentary to underscore the bursts of skillfully staged action.
Adjusted Score: 126225%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Adjusted Score: 115217%
Critics Consensus: A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that’s as original as it is scary — and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Adjusted Score: 124834%
Critics Consensus: With Jordan Peele’s second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.
Adjusted Score: 107222%
Critics Consensus: Featuring genuine scares through every corridor, His House is a terrifying look at the specters of the refugee experience and a stunning feature debut for Remi Weekes.
Adjusted Score: 108020%
Critics Consensus: A nerve-wracking continuation of its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II expands the terrifying world of the franchise without losing track of its heart.
Adjusted Score: 103664%
Critics Consensus: A fresh spin on the classic slasher formula, X marks the spot where Ti West gets resoundingly back to his horror roots.