36 Best Zombie Movies of the 21st Century

Looking for the best zombie movies of the 21st century so far? From Dawn of the Dead to Shaun of the Dead, here are the essentials.

Dawn of the Dead 2004

15. Juan of the Dead (2011)

Juan of the Dead

Director: Alejandro Brugués

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

A recurring theme with modern zombie movies is not taking the zombie apocalypse all that seriously, which is exactly the charm of the Spanish-Cuban Juan of the Dead. After the undead outbreak, the chosen Juan decides to start up his own ethically unsound zombie-killing business with differing results.

Equal parts slapstick comedy and political allegory, this is a smart and heartfelt effort, which isn’t too bad a result considering it’s viewed as the first Cuban zombie film ever made.

 

14. I Am A Hero (2016)

I Am A Hero

Director: Shinsuke Sato

WATCH: Rent

Based on the manga of the same name, I Am A Hero is an unusual movie in that it is completely unapologetic about its weirdness. Its zombies are infected with ZQN and are able to talk and even jump really high, but it all depends on what they were like in their normal life.

It’s certainly an unconventional time, but not one that you will struggle to be endeared by. I Am A Hero is one of the best Japanese horror imports in years, so it’s such a shame that it’s so hard to find in the West, the UK in particular.

 

13. The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

TGWATG movie
Source: IMDb

Director: Colm McCarthy

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

I don’t know whether I loathe or love The Girl With All the Gifts; I tend to flit between both depending on my mood. When I’m in a good mood, I appreciate its performances and the constant tension, but while I’m in a bad mood, its awful final third tries its best to make me smash my head through a window. Still, its first third is a masterclass in suspense and mystery that reveals that not is all as it seems.

 

12. Cargo (2017)

Cargo movie

Director(s): Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling

The slow-burn and lack of buckets of blood may turn some zombie movie fans away from Cargo, but it really shouldn’t. It feels like the evolution of Maggie: a look at the dynamic between a father and daughter with the same arid landscape as The Dead and the hook of Colin to boot.

If that sounds convoluted, Cargo is anything but. It’s a simple story of love and sacrifice beautifully told that you shouldn’t overlook on Netflix.

 

11. Ravenous (Les Affamés) (2017)

Les Affames

Director: Robin Aubert

By all accounts, the zombie craze is over. Mention a new undead movie in passing to someone and the best you can hope for is an eyeroll. It was a big surprise, then, that Ravenous somehow managed to make zombies feel like a threat again.

Admittedly, a lot of the added tension might have come from reading the subtitles while also trying to keep an eye out for the jumpscares, but this is still a taut and highly enjoyable trip to Canada that’s minimalism leaves a lasting impact.

 

10. Rammbock (2010)

Rammbock

Director: Marvin Kren

WATCH: DVD | Rent

A German horror that might have flown under the radar for many, Rammbock is a tense yet mercifully brisk affair that sees a jilted boyfriend trying to reconnect with his ex, only to become embroiled in the outbreak of a rage virus.

Set in an apartment block, our unlikely hero must remain calm – literally. The virus takes over quicker if people become enraged, which gives Marvin Kren’s movie a welcome and interesting twist.

 

9. Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse

Director: John McPhail

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

If the words “zombie musical set at Christmas” make you feel uneasy, Anna and the Apocalypse really may not be for you. That being said, you try to listen to just a few of its songs and not bop your head along to it without a care in the world after the third or fourth listen.

While its final third definitely lets it down after such a promising start, Anna and the Apocalypse is another novel twist on the zombie subgenre that has plenty of heart, laughs, and one or two guts to show. Expect the lead, Ella Hunt, to be a big name within the next few years.

 

8. Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow

Director: Tommy Wirkola

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

Continuing the trend of smart, exciting foreign zombie movies comes Dead Snow, or Død Snø in its native Norwegian. When you combine Nazis, zombies and a dash of comedy for good measure, you will only ever been onto a winner and that’s exactly the case here. Dead Snow is smartly shot, fantastically paced and doesn’t fall into the same old tropes that hamper so many similar films.

 

7. One Cut of the Dead (2017)

One Cut of the Dead

Director: Shinichirou Ueda

WATCH: Shudder/a>

One Cut of the Dead is one of those modern zombie movies that you just want to talk and talk about, but to do so beyond the basics would be to inevitably spoil what makes it so special.

When a film crew’s B movie production is suddenly overcome by actual zombies, a crazed director compels his cast to utilise the situation for better performances. A funny, unusual zombie yarn, One Cut of the Dead is worth a Shudder subscription all on its own.

 

6. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

The sequel to Danny Boyle’s cult classic found itself in a similar status shortly after release. 28 Weeks Later may not be quite as essential as the movie which helped to reignite the interest in the genre, but where it lacks in brains it more than makes up for it with a serious amount of blood and guts.

That helicopter scene is every gorehound’s dream, plus Jeremy Renner steals the show.

 

5. The Battery (2012)

The Battery movie

Director: Jeremy Gardner

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

A film which I cannot espouse enough, The Battery appeared in a period of fantastical, ridiculous zombie movies to do something that so many simply fail to do: tell a story.

As a low-budget affair, this allows first-time director Jeremy Gardner to explore the mental toil of a zombie apocalypse on two begrudging baseball players who were thrown together through necessity rather than choice when the world went to shit. Essential viewing.

 

4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead

Director: Edgar Wright

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

It would almost be easier to just copy and paste a load of memorable quotes from Edgar Wright’s now famous romzomcom than to actually write anything about it. If you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead yet, get your life together and turn on ITV2 right now because the zombie comedy will invariably be playing on there as we speak.

How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

 

3. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead 2004

Director: Zack Snyder

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

A film that I make an effort to watch at least once a year, Zack Snyder’s remake of the classic original is a breathless action film which only shares the location (a shopping mall) with its source material.

It’s not the thinking man’s zombie movie, but I will be damned if it isn’t the most entertaining, set up perfectly by a relentless opening sequence. There may be too much stupidity from people for you to handle, though.

READ NEXT: Best Modern Horror Movies

 

2. 28 Days Later (2002)

28 days later

Director: Danny Boyle

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

It may look seriously rough around the edges (the monkey intro in particular) these days, but Danny Boyle’s Infected are just as terrifying as they’ve ever been.

While not technically an out and out zombie movie, it shares a lot of DNA with older efforts in the genre with the result being a social commentary that’s only downfall is a patchy final act.

Still, 28 Days Later is an absolute ride and Cillian Murphy has gone on to be a huge name since.

 

1. Train To Busan (2016)

Train To Busan

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

WATCH: BR | DVD | Rent

From the outside looking in, Train To Busan may just come across like a Korean version of 28 Days Later. Look closer, however, and you will find that it’s much more than that, delivering its blood and gore with just as much heart.

Set, weirdly enough, on a train going to one of the last vestiges of safety after an outbreak wipes out civilisation, it’s a breathless and exhilarating movie that should really be the first of the best zombie movies on this list that you check off your watchlist.

UPDATE (05/03/17): The Dead, Wyrmwood, The Rezort enter the list.
UPDATE (03/11/17): 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Train To Busan, Rammbock, Resident Evil, Diary of the Dead enter
UPDATE (01/01/17): Here Alone, The Girl With All the Gifts enter
UPDATE (04/03/18): Ravenous builds a weird tower to make it onto our list. 
UPDATE (12/04/18): Warm Bodies, World War Z, and Bong of the Living Dead enter.
UPDATE (22/05/18): Cargo drops in.
UPDATE (13/11/18): I Am A Hero high jumps its way into our hearts. 
UPDATE (11/04/19): Anna and the Apocalypse has a song to sing. </em

MORE HORROR:
The Best Horror Films of All-Time
The Best Horror Games
70 Best Modern Horror Movies of the 21st Century

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