Top 10 Best Modern Horror Movie Franchises

Written by David Medhurst

Horror films have been popular for decades in Hollywood, but of all the new movies coming out today, which will truly stand the test of time? WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Modern Horror Movie Franchises. But what will take the top spot on our list? Insidious, The Conjuring, or Saw? Watch to find out!

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It’s hard enough to create one terrifyingly successful horror flick – but a whole series? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for top 10 best modern horror movie franchises.

For this list, we’re focusing on horror franchises that began in the year 2000 or later, and are basing our choices on their popularity, box office success and how effectively they scare the bejesus out of us. We should also mention that some scenes you’re about to see are pretty disturbing, while others might feature spoilers. You have been warned.

#10: “Hatchet” franchise (2006-13)

Starting off with the most basic of killing implements, “Hatchet” chops into the #10 spot with all the gore you’d expect from such a title. What’s more, it features some of your favorite horror tropes: deformed and bullied child-turned-psycho killer, plus tragic deaths and a group of fun-loving teens all add up to your standard horror franchise mayhem – with a modern twist, of course. With genre icon Kane Hodder starring as the ax-wielding psychopath Victor Crowley, butchery ensues in the Louisiana swamps, near his haunted family shack. Alright, it may not be the most original plotline, but the victim disposal methods do get more inventive as the trilogy progresses.

#9: “V/H/S” franchise (2012-14)

“V/H/S” technology may be out-of-date, but don’t think that makes the scares in this series obsolete. With a POV approach, this anthology horror trilogy takes the viewer through a series of what looks like found footage home movies, which – as you can expect – eventually lead to a variety of nasty demises. With several shorter tales in each film, there’s sure to be something to freak you out, while jump scares and general creepiness will keep you on the edge of your seat. Although the handheld camerawork can be a little hard on the senses, the filmmakers did find a new and interesting way to string together a group of small vignettes into a franchise of entertaining films.

#8: “[REC]” franchise (2007-14)

The Spanish zombie horror franchise upon which the American “Quarantine” series is based, the original “[REC]” also uses the handheld camera method of telling the story. The series of four films begins by following a reporter and her cameraman as they enter a building with an emergency response team, and get a response they could’ve lived without – literally. The claustrophobic settings and religious undertones up the tension in these films, as we’re treated to a first person experience of a zombie-infested nightmare. Dark lighting, jerky camera movement and maniacs trying to feast on your throat make for four films of terrifying intensity.

#7: “Final Destination” franchise (2000-)

Prophetic visions and fate are the topics of choice in this franchise. Throughout the five films so far in this series, precognitive teens try to cheat death and save themselves from their own untimely and predicted demises. The Grim Reaper, however, has other plans, and attempts to thwart their efforts with series after series of outlandish coincidences that, when successful, lead to over-the-top gore and messy ends. This series brings the horror to the viewer in a way that may be beyond bloody, but is also extremely entertaining (in a gross way). You’ll never listen to John Denver the same way again…

#6: “The Purge” franchise (2013-)

Imagine a country where any and all crime is legal for a 12-hour period, once a year. Now imagine that a murderous gang has targeted your house specifically. NOW imagine what your next 12 hours will be like. That’s the basic premise of the first film in “The Purge” franchise, which grossed $89.3 million on a $3 million budget. And believe it or not, the films only got more successful from there, with each new entry exploring the concept through an ever-widening lens. With tension you can taste, this dystopian action franchise forces you to ask yourself “what would YOU do?”

#5: “28 Days Later” / “28 Weeks Later” franchise (2002-07)

This is the film series that made running from zombie-like creatures much tougher than it used to be, as the two-part franchise pits humanity against some speedy infected beings in the race to survive. Some well-meaning animal activists accidentally release the Rage virus upon mankind, and when the first film’s protagonist awakes from a coma four weeks after the event, he finds the world deserted – with the minor exception of the crazed infected hordes. Well-developed characters and a fresh approach to the zombie genre help bring the viewer into these films, which don’t fail to deliver on the zombie gore and post-apocalyptic scares.

#4: “Paranormal Activity” franchise (2007-15)

If a thing going bump in the night is your scare of choice, you’ll want to check out the films in this supernatural horror series. The “Paranormal Activity” franchise has six films to its credit to date, and each one has its fair share of chills, thrills and jump scares. Captured in a found footage style by home movie and security cameras, the seemingly normal surroundings in the film instantly become frightening, as decidedly nasty presences make themselves known. How the hapless victims become aware of the evil is a step-by-step lesson in terror. And how they deal with that evil will scare your pants off with tension.

#3: “Insidious” franchise (2010-)

Things start to get really nasty as the “Insidious” series does its very best to keep you scared. The barrier between our reality and the spirit world may be thinner than you think, and these films show us just how close they really are. Yes, there are plenty of jump scares to keep the popcorn flying, but it’s the quieter moments in between, when you’re waiting and thinking and dreading what’ll come next, that really get to you. With four films as of 2017, the “Insidious” series will get under your skin as effectively as any demon.

#2: “Saw” franchise (2004-)

You don’t want to have to solve the puzzles in our next franchise. First hitting the theatres in 2004, “Saw” has gone on to spawn six more movies so far, as well as countless sleepless nights for viewers. The series’ original antagonist Jigsaw and his successors take killing in a creative direction, as countless victims are put into situations that require gruesome solutions, in order to escape with their lives. If you can handle the gut-wrenching tension of watching someone sawing off his own foot, seeing someone split open like a butterfly or extracting a pound of flesh from him or herself, then this grisly modern horror series is one you will definitely want to check out.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a couple of honorable mentions:
- “Sinister” franchise (2012-15)
- “The Grudge” franchise (2004-09)

#1: “The Conjuring” franchise (2013-)

You can’t beat the scares that come from movies that claim to be based on true events, feature characters based on actual paranormal investigators and boast enough shocks to keep you awake for a good long time. James Wan, the same director who brought us “Insidious,” applies his terrifying talents to these films with great skill. And the ghosts, demonic possession, and nasty surprises around every corner are only a tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for films that will chill you to the bone and scare you senseless, then look no further: “The Conjuring” franchise – and its spinoff series “Annabelle” – will deliver everything you ask for – and maybe a little more.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Modern Horror Franchise? For more killer Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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