shaun of the dead
Shaun of the Dead

50 Best Zombie Movies of the 21st Century

From Dawn of the Dead to Shaun of the Dead, here are the essentials.

25. #Alive (2020)

#Alive
#Alive

Director: Il Cho

Timed a little too perfectly in the 2020 movie release window, Il Cho’s #Alive focuses on a young, almost comically inept Korean who is stranded in his family’s apartment during a zombie outbreak. With food running out and his mind going to troubling places, the movie takes an unexpected turn.

While #Alive features a tonne of somewhat slapstick moments, it’s when the going gets tough that it really starts to shine. Ah-In Yoo puts in a great performance as the hapless zoomer with the movie bolstered by a strong emotional core throughout. Try this on Netflix if you haven’t already.

 

24. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Zombieland

Director: Ruben Fleischer

It was always going to be difficult for Double Tap to succeed in the same way Zombieland did ten years after the original’s release, but those wanting more of the same will be left delighted. The gang’s chemistry is still infectious, especially the banter between Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee and Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus.

Following a similar pattern to the first movie, Double Tap doesn’t hold any pretences of being a deep movie whatsoever, allowing for an absolutely gigantic and bombastic final battle that’s right up there with some of the best action sequences in any zombie movie.

 

23. Planet Terror (2007)

Planet Terror

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Probably the last good thing Robert Rodriguez touched before Alita: Battle Angel, Planet Terror is a romp from start to finish that plays up the best of trashy exploitation cinema from the 70s.

As part of the admirably throwback Grindhouse series with Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez released a camp, silly but still stylish zombie movie back in 2007 that featured some of the greatest one-liners in film history. “I’m gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge” is the first thing I say to all my new friends.

 

22. Fido (2006)

Fido 2006

Director: Andrew Currie

Hands up if you knew that Billy Connolly was once a zombie. Putting in a great performance as the titular “hero”, Connolly anchors one of the first interesting spins on zombie legend to come out in the 21st century.

Taking place in a world where the flesh eaters have become domesticated, Fido is a unique zombie film that might have passed many people by on initial release. It’s definitely worth picking up for cheap now, if not for Connolly’s brilliant performance, but for the movie’s unique 1950s vision.

Sale
Fido
814 Reviews

 

21. The Horde (2009)

The Horde Movie

Director(s): Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher

Going on poster art alone, The Horde would be one to swerve. It’s by no means perfect, but this Belgian release is a pleasant surprise, especially if you base your preconceptions on its dodgy cover.

Don’t expect the Citizen Kane of zombie movies (that will always be 1978’s Dawn of the Dead) and you will have a lot of fun with the machismo of dumb police officers who fail to understand where to shoot zombies.

Imagine The Raid with zombies and you aren’t a million miles away.

 

20. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

Wyrmwood

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner

Judging from its first few scenes, you might think Wyrmwood will be a difficult slog and definitely not one of the best zombie movies you’ll have seen in a long time. It’s full of cheese and totally unbelievable, but as the film progressed, I found myself being charmed.

Wyrmwood has plenty of influences that it isn’t afraid to hide, so much so that it feels like one long homage to an entire genre. It’s a B-movie done absolutely right for a modern audience with just enough seriousness to keep you invested.

 

19. Land of the Dead (2005)

Land of the Dead

Director: George A. Romero

George A. Romero’s long-awaited return to his classic zombie series might not rank as his best, but it still has a strong political undercurrent which sets it apart from similar fare.

America’s War on Terror is a big inspiration for events here and contributes towards a smarter, more accessible effort than 1985’s Day of the Dead that still ends up as an arguably inferior but great watch nonetheless.

Dennis Hopper also steals the show in one of his last great roles.

 

18. Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland
Source: Bloody Disgusting

Director: Ruben Fleischer

The more I watch Ruben Fleishcer’s zomedy, the more I notice its flaws. It’s still a worthwhile look into the end of the world via zombies that’s helped out a lot by our lord Bill Murray’s hilarious cameo, as well as fantastic chemistry between all of the main protagonists.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, take your brain out of your skull, put it in a bag of frozen peas and allow yourself to enjoy some honest whimsy. Just don’t try to explain to me the sense in going to a theme park in an apocalypse.

Zombieland
18,529 Reviews

 

17. Juan of the Dead (2011)

Juan of the Dead

Director: Alejandro Brugués

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. It’s not amazing from a technical perspective, but there’s something about Juan of the Dead that just works incredibly well.

 

16. I Am A Hero (2016)

I Am A Hero

Director: Shinsuke Sato

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.

 

15. The Girl With All The Gifts (2016)

TGWATG movie
Source: IMDb

Director: Colm McCarthy

Following a young girl who was born while her mother was infected with the virus that has plagued the world, The Girl with All the Gifts is equal parts social commentary and nerve-jangling action that isn’t quite like anything else out there.

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.

 

14. Zombie For Sale (2019)

Zombie For Sale
Zombie For Sale

Director: Lee Min-Jae

South Korean filmmakers really know how to make zombies work, to keep putting interesting spins on what is by now a very cramped market. In Zombie For Sale, the senior residents of a town think they’ve discovered the cure for ageing — a zombie bite.

With a great cast of characters and some undeniably funny moments, Zombie For Sale is like Warm Bodies mixed with a Wes Anderson movie, except if The Royal Tenenbaums had buckets of blood. Zombie For Sale keeps up its whimsical fun right up until its final, suitably silly scene.

 

13. 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. Martin Freeman gives this one his all, but the supporting performance from Simone Landers more than matches him.

 

12. 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 eye roll. 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 in this unusual horror film 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.

 

11. Rammbock (2010)

Rammbock

Director: Marvin Kren

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.

 

10. Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse

Director: John McPhail

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.

 

9. Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow

Director: Tommy Wirkola

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 be 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. It’s also gory as all hell, as well as being a deeply silly time that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

 

8. One Cut of the Dead (2017)

One Cut of the Dead
One Cut of the Dead

Director: Shinichirou Ueda

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.

 

7. REC (2007)

REC 2007
REC 2007

Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Few movies have perfected found footage horror quite like Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s REC, even Hollywood. While Quarantine, the American remake, had some frights, you can’t quite match the pulse-pounding terror of REC.

A slow burn that rises to an almost unbearably tense final fifteen minutes, REC follows an apartment lockdown when one of the residents is discovered to have contracted some unique strain of rabies. The tension slowly creeps upwards until its chilling final scene, which will probably make you question ever going in your attic again.

 

6. 28 Weeks Later (2007)

28 Weeks Later

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

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. In fact, with performances from Imogen Poots, Rose Byrne, and the aforementioned Renner all before they hit the big time, 28 Weeks Later is a more important movie than a lot of people realise.

28 Weeks Later
4,810 Reviews

 

5. The Battery (2012)

The Battery movie

Director: Jeremy Gardner

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.

Despite some rough edges due to the non-budget, The Battery is essential viewing.

 

4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead

Director: Edgar Wright

Following a thirtysomething layabout whose life is going nowhere fast, leading his long-time girlfriend to dump him, Shaun of the Dead follows the titular Shaun as he tries to play the hero — usually to disastrous effect.

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?

Shaun Of The Dead
10,811 Reviews

 

3. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead 2004

Director: Zack Snyder

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 doesn’t have anything in the way of social commentary or much substance, though it’s an absolute thrill ride that doesn’t let up.

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.

Who brings a chainsaw onto a moving vehicle? Really now.

READ NEXT: Best Modern Horror Movies

 

2. 28 Days Later (2002)

28 days later

Director: Danny Boyle

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. Isn’t it about time we had a third movie?

 

1. Train To Busan (2016)

Train To Busan

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

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, as well as Romero-esque social commentary.

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.

Train to Busan
7,290 Reviews

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