50 Best Zombie Movies of the 21st Century – Cultured Vultures

In the 1980s, the zombie onslaught was everywhere: on our televisions, adverts and music videos, which led to an eventual lack of interest from the public and a whole lot of meh. Once there were dancing zombies in Michael Jacksons Thriller, being scared by them ever again seemed liked a hard task. When it comes to the best zombie movies of the 21st century, youre almost spoilt for choice for scares.

Zombies almost completely disappeared from our media until 2004 when the both excellent Shaun of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead were released, with the latter doing a lot to introduce fast zombies to a new modern audience. Replacing shuffling, sometimes laughable slow zombies with sprinting lunatics did a lot to revitalise the perception of the undead as legitimate monsters once again.

Lets take a look at some of the best zombie movies of the 21st century whether they feature slow zombies, fast zombies, or something else entirely so far.

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Looking at the cast alone, which features the legendary Bill Murray along with Adam Driver, youd expect The Dead Dont Die to rank much higher. Despite some good jokes, its perhaps too offbeat for its own good.

Struggling in its pace and tone, The Dead Dont Die throws a few too random, meandering bits into the mix, making for an overall missed opportunity. Still, if its Bill Murray and zombies you want, this is a decent alternative to the obvious that well discuss much later.

Director: Zach Lipovsky

Dead Rising is one of the most popular zombie game franchises around and one that should make an easy transition to the movies. Just make Dawn of the Dead but much less grim and a little silly and your job is done.

Unfortunately, Watchtower tries to be less obvious and ends up being slightly generic as a result. Jesse Metcalfe is surprisingly inoffensive in the lead role, which somehow isnt Frank West and just a guy called Chase Carter instead. They really could have been onto a straightforward winner here, but theres still some fun kills and action to be had.

Director: Bo Mikkelsen

Scandinavian horror has a reputation for being oppressively dark, and thats certainly the case with What We Become. Telling the story of a family in the middle of a zombie outbreak in their neighbourhood, its not what you would call a chirpy time.

Perhaps too slow going for its own good, What We Become offers creeping tension as the family figure out whats happening around them. Light on zombies themselves, stick with this one and you could be pleasantly surprised.

Director: Jeff Baena

What would you do if your dead girlfriend came back to life? Youd probably be pretty happy, right? Okay, so what if that same girlfriend possesses freakish strength and a desire for human flesh?

A movie of two halves, Life After Beth starts pretty strongly with a load of charm before it fades away significantly in its latter stages. Things fall slightly flat as its unconventional pacing kills its momentum, though theres still a good amount of fun to be had as Aubrey Plaza gives it her all.

Director: Alexander Witt

Probably the closest Resident Evil movie to the games in terms of storyline faithfulness, Apocalypse is one of the better popcorn zombie movies around, it offering empty-headed escapism that makes you feel like youre holding a game controller.

Set during the outbreak in Raccoon City, Apocalypse features some truly terrible Russian accents and a tone thats too close to a nu-metal music video at some points, though its still a great excuse to put your brain on ice and laugh at its wonderful nonsense.

Director: Jonathan Levine

I was in two minds whether or not two include Warm Bodies on this list of the best zombie movies, purely because its so Disney-fied. Compared to other undead offerings, its incredibly tame and marketed towards a teenage audience its like a better version of Twilight but with zombies.

Still, it has some great moments and Nicholas Hoults zombie friend is a standout, and, though it might not do it for gorehounds, the central romance is admittedly charming. If youre looking for something to watch with a squeamish partner, Warm Bodies is a safe pick.

Director: Marc Forster

World War Z is a movie that gets dramatically worse with every watch. At the cinema, I thought it was quite the ridiculous but fun spectacle. After watching it a few times since, how out of touch it is with its source combined with the troubled production coming through at some points sent it down in my estimations.

Plus, that Pepsi scene was gross. Watch it once when youre drunk, maybe, and pray to God that the cancelled sequel from David Fincher is brought back and does the book justice.

Director: Max Groah

Yeah, its dumb. You should kind of get that almost immediately from its name. But Bong of the Living Dead is still a lot of fun. A low-budget zombie movie, what Bong lacks in terms of technical quality, it makes up for it in terms of laughs and unexpected scares.

When a group of stoners light one up and start discussing the zombie outbreak, exactly that happens. Dont go into it expecting the second coming of Romero and you will have a lot of fun.

Director: David Freyne

As derivative of the BBCs criminally under-watched In The Flesh and the actually just bad The Returned as The Cured may be, its still a tense and emotional time that tries its best to create parallels with modern times and terrorism.

When a cure is found to return zombies to their human state and back into society, its not all smooth sailing as one of the cured returns to his family home harbouring a dark secret.

Featuring some great performances, particularly from Elliot Page, The Cured asks some potent questions but just labours under the weight of it being too similar to what preceded it. A worthwhile watch all the same.

Director: Rod Blackhurst

Here Alone starts off strongly with plenty of intrigue as a lone woman makes a simple living for herself in the woods. The tension is always bubbling and threatening to boil over in the post-apocalypse, leading to plenty of anticipation for the reveal of the zombies, who areterrible.

As soon as their weak designs appear on-screen for the first time, the whole thing bottoms out. Its all downhill from that, featuring some terrible plot advancement and some very ropey sequences, but if you could bottle the first half an hour of Here Alone, you might have a small zombie movie gem on your hands.

Director: Steve Barker

Is The Rezort a good movie? Not particularly. Does it do anything different to what weve seen a hundred times already? Well, its Jurassic Park with zombies. You may not think you want that, but this movie could surprise you.

When you boil down its premise to just that succinct little tagline, its clear that this isnt a movie you should take too seriously. Sure, it looks cheap at the worst of times and some of the acting veers into melodrama, but as a zombie movie, its effective escapism that might take you by surprise.

Director: Lars Damoiseaux

A Shudder exclusive, Yummy is one of the bloodiest zombie movies of recent memory, it bringing to mind Peter Jacksons Braindead/Dead Alive in terms of the amount of shlocky gore being chucked around the screen at once. Its not deep, but it sure is a lot of fun.

When a woman visits a shady plastic surgeon with her meek boyfriend, a science experiment is let loose and the deaths arent far behind. Its not quite a zombie comedy, but theres a decidedly tongue-in-cheek attitude to Yummy that makes it a light-hearted albeit incredibly viseral zombie flick that is sure to crack some dark smiles.

Director: Kim Sung-hoon

Compared considerably to Netflixs excellent Kingdom show, Rampant features swords and zombies in an epic yarn between an exiled prince and the Joseon Minister of War in ancient Korea. Whereas Kingdom balances the undead horror with its drama, Rampant is guilty of preferring the latter to the former.

Really, the main thing that goes against Rampant is its format: it would be better suited to a long-form show to give itself more time to grow. Still, if its South Korean horror you want with decapitations and hordes of the undead aplenty, Rampant is great, often intense fun.

Director: Abe Forsythe

Is there a case to be made that Lupita Nyongo is the new queen of horror? As well as turning in a fantastic dual performance in 2019s Us, she also played the part of a preppy teacher in the midst of a zombie outbreak in Little Monsters remarkably well.

During a school trip to Pleasant Valley Farm, Miss. Caroline must not only contend with the advancing hordes and keeping the children safe, but also the advances of a man-child whos tagged along. Often funny and packed with heart, Little Monsters seems to have passed by a lot of people, so give it a chance when you can.

Director: Yeon Sang-ho

Lets get this out of the way: Peninsula doesnt hold a candle to its predecessor, which you will find much higher on this list of the best zombie movies. It doesnt have quite the same heart, but as far as high-octane action goes? Its just a tonne of dumb fun.

Following the events of Train To Busan, survivors travel back to South Korea for a big payday. Its not long before gangs, families and the zombies themselves make their job a lot harder. Despite a couple of throwback moments, you could easily see Peninsula as a completely separate zombie flick.

Director: Dominique Rocher

After a depressing night at a party, a man wakes alone in an apartment building in an even more depressing situation. The infected have ravaged France overnight, leaving him completely isolated and one of the last remaining people alive in the world. He only he has himself (and an infected stuck in an elevator) for company, but he cant even trust his own thoughts.

The Night Eats The World attempts plenty of unique twists on the subgenre, which includes almost completely mute zombies you get the impression that this will cause some people terror and others to just laugh. Its definitely a slow burner with a twist that is completely obvious, but if its an unusual zombie movie you want, The Night Eats The World is it.

Director: Henry Hobson

A popularly conflicting movie, Henry Hobsons Maggie is a fascinating look into the deterioration of a young girls humanity as she gradually becomes one of the undead. Her father, played spectacularly by Arnold Schwarzenegger, does everything in his power to keep her safe and away from the inevitable.

Not one for action fans, Maggie is instead an introspective look at love and what it means to be human, though it does have its pacing issues. Still, if you want to catch Arnie in one of his most underrated roles, its one that pulls at the emotions.

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson

This movie (and even the franchise) could have been so much better if it had stuck closer to the games it was based upon, that would have been a start. The fact that they spend the most fleeting amount of time above ground in the Spencer Mansion feels like the ultimate tease.

Despite dispatching of most of its cast in the feeblest way possible instead of making them undead chow, Resident Evil has a few good moments of zombie action. Shame the rest of it is such a bizarre hodge-podge of nu-metal music videos and slow-motion, then, but theres still a lot of enjoyment to be had.

Director: George A. Romero

Just before the found footage subgenre reached its peak, the late, great George A. Romero released his spin on things with Diary of the Dead, which, somehow took place in the same timeframe as Night of the Living Dead.

Featuring plenty of memorable moments (Amish farmer, anyone?) but a lack of consistent quality, Diary of the Dead is certainly watchable but nowhere near the top of Romeros zombie filmography. Still, its one of the better found footage movies out there.

Director: Gregg Bishop

Dance of the Dead is a modern zombie movie that is dumber than Harry and Lloyd rolling around in nuclear waste talking about creationism.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing as Dance of the Dead doesnt make the mistake of taking itself seriously for even a second. A light-hearted effort centred around a zombie outbreak during a high school prom and you can fill in the blanks about what happens next.

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50 Best Zombie Movies of the 21st Century - Cultured Vultures

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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