The Most Underrated Sci-Fi Horror Movies Of The 2000s

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Vote up the early 21st-century movies that need more love.

There are numerous classic storylines associated with sci-fi/horror. Space travel gone horrifically wrong. Monstrous creatures created by the abuse of science. Nightmarish post-apocalyptic landscapes. All of these plot descriptions likely bring to mind iconic sci-fi horror films from the recent past. But the titles below probably aren't the ones that first come to mind when thinking of this hybrid genre. These underrated releases from the 2000s trade in many of the same narrative ideas, but received far less attention upon release. They may have had low box office numbers, negative reviews from critics, or poor word of mouth from audiences.

Whatever the reason, none were as successful as they could have been in their initial release. At best they may have received cult status, while many are still considered outright failures. For one reason or another, each merit reevaluation. Which of these 21st-century films do you believe are worthy of a second chance? Vote up the films you think deserve more love.


  • 1
    1,359 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: When a commercial spaceship transporting a dangerous convict named Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) is forced to crash land on an alien planet, the survivors find it is home to predatory creatures that hunt in the dark. Despite the planet’s three suns keeping it in perpetual light, they discover a month-long eclipse will soon bring the alien species out to hunt.

    Horror Payoff: The reptilian-looking alien creatures initially have the upper hand on the humans unlucky enough to land on their home planet, able to pick them off with ease in the dark. Regardless of the initial suspicion of Riddick, the survivors must rely on his surgically enhanced eyes to see in the dark and protect them from the threat.

    Why It’s Underrated: Pitch Black was actually a sleeper hit, making more than twice its budget and leading to several spin-off sequels centered on the Riddick character. But many critics at the time had a negative response, complaining about its use of “the same tired generic conventions." It may be time for reevaluation.

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  • 2
    973 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: The Cell centers on an experimental technology created by scientists for psychologist Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) to enter the mind of coma victims, with the intention of coaxing them back to consciousness.

    Horror Payoff: When serial killer Carl Rudolph Stargher (Vincent D'Onofrio) is discovered in a comatose state before authorities can question him to find the location of his latest target, the FBI persuades Deane to use her revolutionary methods to enter his mind. Deane discovers a nightmarish landscape in the mind of the psychopath, losing touch with who she is and how to get back to reality.

    Why It’s Underrated: While The Cell performed well at the box office, critical reception was mixed. Amy Taubin called it “summer's silliest cinematic experience.”

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  • 3
    731 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: In the year 2019, a decade after a plague caused by an infected bat transformed a majority of the world’s population into vampires, there is a dwindling number of humans remaining. With vampires reliant upon human blood as their food source, Dr. Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) works for a pharmaceutical company attempting to develop an artificial blood supply when he stumbles on a possible cure for vampirism.

    Horror Payoff: In traditional vampire narratives, the blood-sucking creature must remain hidden in the shadows to survive. Daybreakers revises this formula by making the vampires the majority of the population, which simultaneously makes them less monstrous. The horror in the film comes from the vampires deprived of a blood supply, which transforms them into feral and mutated versions of the monsters.

    Why It’s Underrated: Daybreakers more than doubled its budget in ticket sales and had an adequate critical response, but failed to connect with audiences. The film received an average "C" rating from audiences polled by CinemaScore. The middling reception may have been hurt by an oversaturation of vampires in popular culture following the success of the Twilight book series and subsequent big-screen franchise.

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  • 4
    578 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: When Earth’s natural resources are depleted in 2174, an ark-like spaceship is sent into deep space in search of a distant new home planet. Because the journey will take over 100 years, passengers are put into hyper-sleep, and the crew awakens in shifts to keep the craft on course. Engineer Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid) wake to find much of the crew missing - and the ship in chaos.

    Horror Payoff: The film’s title is a fictional slang term for a type of psychosis resulting from deep space travel, which many of the passengers are suffering from after having their hyper-sleep interrupted. The psychosis paired with an enzyme accelerating the evolution of mankind turns the passengers into cannibalistic mutants sensitive to sound.

    Why It’s Underrated: With a budget of $33 million, Pandorum only earned $20 million, half of which came from international markets. In addition to being a financial failure, critical reception was largely negative.

    578 votes

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  • 5
    800 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: When a virus is unleashed inside a secret research facility run by the Umbrella Corporation, the staff of scientists is infected and become mutated. The artificially intelligent computer running the lab shuts down the facility to prevent the virus from spreading, trapping a security guard named Alice (Milla Jovovich) inside.  

    Horror Payoff: Resident Evil is based on a video game credited with creating a new genre of horror survival, as well as reinvigorating zombies in popular culture. The released virus mutates humans and animals into zombie-like creatures, which hunt Alice as she struggles to escape the facility.

    Why It’s Underrated: Resident Evil saw a franchise-building level of box office success, but a majority was made in foreign markets. Additionally, reviews from critics were generally unfavorable.

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  • 6
    573 VOTES

    Sci-fi Premise: In 2057, a team of international astronauts accept a mission to reignite Earth's dying sun with a nuclear device, following the disappearance of the first spaceship sent on the mission. Their task is complicated when the team receives a distress signal from the missing ship and must take a detour to rescue possible survivors.

    Horror Payoff: Even slightly unfiltered exposure to the sun is revealed to cause madness in crew members, who then do their best to sabotage the others from accomplishing their mission. Elements of body horror are also present because exposure to the sun disfigures victims along with turning them psychotic. What begins as a traditional sci-fi premise devolves into a survival horror film set in space.

    Why It’s Underrated: With a budget of $40 million, Sunshine earned less than $35 million, a large majority of which was made internationally. Even with generally positive reviews from critics, the film failed to find an audience when it was given a limited release in the United States, opening in only 10 theaters across the country.

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