October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article about the best horror remakes of the 2000s is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
Horror cinema in the early 2000s has a very distinct flavor. It’s garish, it’s weird, it’s horny, and damn, is it a good time. One of the big trends from this era was the remake. No franchise was safe from a ’00s reboot involving women in crop tops, dudes in cargo shorts, and a reimagining of the killer that may not always hit. And while seeing iconic series reimagined was frustrating for some, this era marked the beginning of a new generation of horror fans.
I was a teenager during the mid to late-2000s and I wasn’t raised on classic horror films. Instead, these remakes were my entry points to series such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Friday the 13th. They were also my, and many other’s, way into loving Japanese horror. Sure, the remakes may not always be as good as their original, but they still brought something new to the table. And my young horror heart is grateful for that.
So get those Von Dutch hats and low-rise jeans ready, we’re about to jump in a time machine and head backwards to revisit some of the best 2000s horror remakes of the time, as chosen by Brad Gullickson, Chris Coffel, Jacob Trussell, Rob Hunter, Anna Swanson, Meg Shields, and myself.
10. The Grudge (2004)
Just as The Ring gave us seven days, The Grudge gave us a horrible, guttural throat sound that signified certain death. The film is told in three parts, focusing on a Japanese family, an American family, and an American nurse, all of whom have lived in this house, which is haunted by something angry. A young boy who screeches like a cat will appear at the top of the stairs, and a young woman is seen spider-crawling down the stairs, terrorizing whoever resides in the home.
What’s unique about The Grudge is that Takashi Shimizu directed both this and the original Japanese film, Ju-On: The Grudge, and he was able to adapt his own film for American audiences. And yet, there is still something lost in translation with the use of an American cast to be more relatable to Western audiences. Regardless, we get Sarah Michelle Gellar working a white turtleneck with a hand coming out of her hand, Clea Duvall as a lonely wife struggling to navigate life in a new country, and one of the best 2000s horror remakes. (Mary Beth McAndrews)
9. Thirteen Ghosts (2001)
As my brother and father entered a theater to see David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, my mother and I sat down for Thirteen Ghosts. As much as I love Lynch’s film, I made the right choice that day. Ok, yes, sure it was my parent’s choice but they rolled the dice on two R-rated films and even though Mulholland Drive is arguably “the better movie,” I think about Thirteen Ghosts far more often.
It hits the same nostalgia buttons that also make me miss the pixelated graphics and hokey voice acting of old PS2 survival horror games. Yeah, it’s not “high art,” but between the spectral specs, the gore, and the cadre of creative monster designs? Fuck, what more could a thirteen-year-old want from a movie called Thirteen Ghosts? Excuse me, sorry, that should read Thir13een because, like all of us, I too can pronounce the number one like the letter T.
Even if production company Dark Castle failed to craft their own unique horror stories after peaking with Thir13een Ghosts, this remake elevates William Castle’s original by both paying tribute to, and elaborating on, what the godfather of immersive experiences built way back in 1960. (Jacob Trussell)
8. My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Patrick Lussier‘s My Bloody Valentine 3D may very well be the perfect encapsulation of aughts horror. It’s a remake, which, as evident by this list were very much in at the time, and it takes advantage of the 2000’s 3D boom. Surprisingly, it succeeds with both those elements. Jensen Ackles stars as Tom Hanniger, a young man returning home to his small mining town after his father’s death. There is never an ideal time for a parent to die, but the timing here is especially awful as it lines up with the anniversary of a bloody murder spree carried out by a pickaxe-wielding maniac. Lussier takes things in a slightly different direction than the original, making the story more of a mystery, but still delivers copious amounts of blood. The 3D is cheesy and gimmicky, bringing the over-the-top horror action straight into the face of the audience. The cherry on top is the added thrill of Tom Atkins. (Chris Coffel)
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The vibe and aesthetic of Tobe Hooper‘s 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre are unmistakable. It is a dirty, disgusting, grimy film that makes you feel like you need to take a shower once the credits roll. Hooper caught lightning in a bottle with his horrifying tale of a family of cannibals living in the middle of nowhere, which is why the idea of remaking it would seem mad to some. But, the 2003 adaptation, directed by Marcus Nispel and starring Jessica Biel, knows that it can’t be the original.
So, instead, he pays homage while also making the IP his own. What Nispel especially nails is that grimy aesthetic as sweat drips down faces, necks, backs, and arms. Everyone is glistening with a thin layer of sweat; the smell of perspiration practically flows from the screen. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is cruel in the way that only a 2000s horror movie can be, and Biel really holds her own as the film’s Final Girl making this one of the best 2000s horror remakes. (Mary Beth McAndrews)
6. The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
Kim Jee-Woon’s horror comedy The Quiet Family (whose ridiculous cast includes Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho), tells of a family who has just purchased a lodge in a remote mountain range. When their first customer commits suicide, the family decide to bury the corpse to avoid scaring away future guests. Then, in a morbid twist, more guests merely lead to more and more bodies. It is an excellent, thoroughly delightful, and hilariously dark film, and there is literally no reason to remake it.
Enter: Takashi Miike, who clearly took one swift look at this perfectly normal horrorshow about an accidentally murderous family and thought “huh, this should be a musical.” We will never understand how Miike’s mind works and maybe that’s for the best. You know how people look at remakes of great films and say things like “this was redundant” or “this didn’t need to exist”? Well all such wrist-wringing is pointless in the case of 2001’s The Happiness of the Katakuris.
Technically the film tells the same story: a loveable family who have opened a remote guest house accidentally wind up with a steadily growing body count when their guests keep dying on them. But the way The Happiness of the Katakuris tells that story is unlike, well, anything else. There’s Claymation, there’s a karaoke sing-along scene, there’s a musical number where the bloated, fetid corpses emerge from the sloughing earth to burst out into song. There is no way to prepare for The Happiness of the Katakuris… not even by watching The Quiet Family (which you should still absolutely do). (Meg Shields)
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