Underrated Quiet Horror Movies From 2000-Present That Trade In Thrills For Chills

Over 3.2K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Underrated Quiet Horror Movies From 2000-Present That Trade In Thrills For Chills
Voting Rules
Vote up the films that subtly unnerve you.

While gory, shocking horror films will always have their place in theaters (and living rooms) around the world, there's something to be said for the quiet horror that disguises itself like a trickster spirit, reels you in, and worms its way under your skin. A jumpscare will raise your heart rate, make you jolt in your seat, or maybe even scream; quiet horror slips in unnoticed and undetected, unnerving you even hours or days after your viewing.

Don’t let the title's “underrated” fool you. While any horror film buff is likely champing at the bit to proclaim their favorite film is “underrated,” this list isn’t just about the underrated; instead, we’re celebrating films that made the conscious decision to sacrifice easy scares for a more existential, subtle fright - and were overlooked as a result.

  • 1
    3,585 VOTES

    The Others perhaps isn’t as much underrated as it is misunderstood. Critically, the 2001 film was a huge success and took home plenty of awards and accolades, but many early reviewers felt the twist wasn’t earned or that it traded substance for a dreamy atmosphere.

    The film did, however, leave enough of a cultural footprint to be parodied in the ill-conceived Scary Movie films, though after that, it seemed to simply fade away.

    The film focuses on mother Grace Stewart and her two young children, who live in a remote country house in the British island country of Jersey. Unexplained occurrences lead her to suspect there are unseen “others” in her home.

    In case you somehow haven't seen it yet, we’ll save the twist; but suffice it to say, The Others is a stunning tableau of gothic supernatural horror, gauzy at the corners of each frame, and inviting you to dive in and explore its longing dread and quiet, unexpected scares.

    3,585 votes

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  • 2
    1,172 VOTES

    The Orphanage, or El Orfanato, goes all in on gothic supernatural horror that centers around creepy children. After watching this delightfully frightening Spanish film, it’s easy to detect why director J.A. Bayona’s longtime friend Guillermo del Toro was called in to help with production and budget.

    In the film, orphan Laura García Rodríguez returns with her husband and sickly son to the now-decayed orphanage where she grew up in order to restore it for disabled children.

    During an era in which horror was built on cheap scares and predictable pay-offs, The Orphanage chose a quieter, more atmospheric approach with minimum blood. The film is a masterclass in long-standing dread and anticipation, rarely delivering real scares - but when it does, they're incredibly well-earned for such an emotionally charged story.

    1,172 votes

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  • 3
    1,074 VOTES
    Session 9
    Photo: USA Films

    This underrated psychological horror film from 2001, Session 9, was already set up for maximum unease from the start. Session 9 follows an asbestos cleaning crew as they begin experiencing unexplained phenomena at a frankly horrifying abandoned asylum.

    Much of the film's horror is tied to the discovery of nine audio-taped sessions that were recorded with Mary Hobbes, a past patient who suffered from dissociative identity disorder.

    The best part is that, compared to the film's contemporaries, Session 9 reveals very little; instead, learning about Mary’s heinous crimes of possibly supernatural origin and watching the cleaning crew mentally (and physically) fall apart gives you plenty to sweat over.

    Between the real-life location of the allegedly haunted and crumbling Danvers State Mental Hospital and being inspired by real murders, this film truly capitalizes on making the viewer uneasy for an unrelenting 100 minutes.

    1,074 votes

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  • 4
    653 VOTES

    Set in the 1920s, The Awakening follows published author and rationalist Florence Cathcart, known for helping police expose fraudulent spiritualists. After being approached by boarding school teacher Robert Mallory to investigate and debunk his school’s haunting, Florence travels to the private-estate-turned-school and gets to work.

    She begins investigating reports of the spirit of a recently deceased student and begins having her own ghostly experiences.

    Despite the setting's obvious Edwardian touches, The Awakening truly shines in its use of Spiritualist themes for a subtle, dreamy type of horror that seeks to disturb more than scare. The atmosphere of an austere, sprawling manor that once housed a family, now repurposed into a posh boy’s boarding school, does a lot of the heavy lifting.

    Jump scares aren’t needed when the film works so hard to draw you in emotionally through subtly clever but effective scares.

    653 votes

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  • We Are What We Are, a 2013 remake of the 2010 original Mexican film, is ostensibly a religious horror featuring cannibalism, although portrayed in a way that defies expectations at every turn.

    The Parkers are a reclusive, very religious family who performs ritual cannibalism every year but are reeling from the recent accidental death of their mother. Two teenage daughters now suddenly have grisly religious duties thrust upon them by their domineering father as - thanks to torrential rain - evidence of their family’s crimes begins to literally surface.

    The film employs a serious and somewhat reverent tone that instantly reads as disturbing, often in a way that’s initially hard to describe. We Are What We Are has no need to rely on jump scares or tasteless gore to get under audiences' skin - the brooding, escalating anxiety in the film’s cinematography, score, and performances handles all of that for you.

    369 votes

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  • 6
    358 VOTES

    It’s always a delight when a horror film's protagonists knowingly and gleefully step into occultism; all too often, main characters are ignorant to such influences and, worse yet, resort to impersonal pearl-clutching at the mere thought.

    A Dark Song commits to its occultism as a grieving Sophia Howard enlists grouchy occultist Joseph Solomon to a rented house to perform a laborious, months-long rite from the Book of Abramelin. Sophia hopes to summon her guardian angel and request to speak with her deceased 7-year-old son - a premise perfectly designed to go terribly awry.

    Shockingly, A Dark Song scraped by with a budget of only $50,000 and seemed to, if anything, flourish under its financial constraints. Not only was the portrayal of an existing lengthy occult ritual pretty darn accurate, but the lack of a special-effects budget forced the filmmakers to build fear in other ways.

    The film is claustrophobic, mainly taking place in a set of suffocating rooms that only seem to grow smaller when events began to escalate. While the movie does eventually deliver some admittedly crazy visuals, they feel earned by the time you get there, thanks to the steady and subtle swell of spookiness throughout its runtime.

    358 votes

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