Ever since George A. Romero brought zombie horror to the mainstream some fifty years ago, many writers and many directors have turned to it in a bid to scare and gross out their audiences, some with better results than others. Whilst it’s become a little over-saturated in recent years, there have been some outstanding additions to the genre in the last twenty, so here are the top seven zombie films in the last twenty years.
7. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The first entry on the list of top seven zombie films in the last twenty years is a remake of George A. Romero’s classic, this version leaned more heavily into the campness and stupidity of humans in this sort of dire situation. Helmed by Zack Snyder, who later went on to create another zombie film in Army of the Dead, this updated remake sees a new type of zombie, one more intelligent, cunning, and devious than the average walking dead shambler we usually get.
6. Dead Snow (2009)
The first comedy horror zombie film on the list, the Norwegian Dead Snow is in part Nazi film, part zombie, and all campy schlock. A group of friends go away for a weekend of relaxation to a remote ski lodge, before coming across a battalion of Nazi soldiers that have long since been dead, and are entirely focused on taking out their newest prey. Lots of blood and gore, some improvised kills and some fun performances make Dead Snow one of the better zombie films in recent years.
5. REC (2007)
Not to be confused with the less than impressive American remake from the following year, the original Spanish version directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, this threw zombies into the found footage mix with a dose of terror. A poor reporter ends up in a locked down apartment complex, along with his cameraman, and in their attempts to follow the story, we end up with some visceral deaths and not always predictable jump scares.
4. Zombieland (2009)
Starring Jesse Eisenberg as the dopey and lovable Columbus, Zombieland starts with the zombie apocalypse well in the swing of things. With his multiple rules – most of which are sensible – and his almost unwavering following of them, we follow Columbus as he tries to make his way in the new world, whilst avoiding zombies, making new friends, and conquering his own fears. Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee is a major plus-point to the film, with his inventive and fun kills going a long way to making this a memorable entry in the top seven zombie films in the last twenty years.
3. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
In the first English film to make this list, Edgar Wright directs a cast of actors including the now household name Simon Pegg and his regular co-star Nick Frost in their attempt to survive the end of the world, in their own, typically British way. Trying to save his recent ex, his mother and his father-in-law whom he doesn’t get along with, Shaun of the Dead is equal parts hilarious and surprisingly gruesome. For every one-liner or callback to an earlier scene, we see some amount of bones and guts.
2. Train to Busan (2016)
The most recent entry on the list, Train to Busan is everything you’d want in a zombie film. A confined space, an end goal for freedom, fractured relationships, and plenty of zombie-killing fun. Set entirely on a train as it heads to Busan (funny that), a father and his daughter are going to visit her mother when all hell breaks loose. With improvised kills, graphic deaths of the main cast, and a few scenes of a stacked Ma Dong-Seok fist fighting zombies, you won’t regret giving this foreign language film a chance.
1. 28 Days Later (2002)
Number one on the list of top seven zombie films in the last twenty years, 28 Days Later is set in London well into the zombie wave of death, it follows a young Cillian Murphy’s Jim as he wakes up in a hospital, with no idea what’s happened or what to do. In another entry in the list where something new is introduced, the ‘zombies’ are able to run, leap, and are incredibly fast and mobile, making the threat of getting eaten all the more real and dangerous.
What films did I miss on this list of top seven zombie films in the last twenty years?