4. Cloverfield (2008)

The severed head of the Statue of Liberty in Cloverfield 2008

Matt Reeves’ feature directorial debut, Cloverfield, is one of the decade’s many found footage horror movies. Though the particular subgenre it belongs to isn’t overly well-loved, Cloverfield stands out not just among its contemporaries but among all of the horror movies of the ’00s. As much a disaster movie as a horror, Cloverfield is a tense and powerful film that really conveys the sense of fear vulnerability of its characters.

Set during a disaster/colossal monster attack that effectively levels a significant part of New York, Cloverfield follows a small group of 20-somethings as they try to reach safety. The found footage format helps to keep the scope of the monster movie small, lending Cloverfield a personal touch that really amplifies its scariest elements. By keeping the perspective up close and personal, the sheer scale of Cloverfield‘s horror is one of its biggest assets.

The film itself is something of a statement on America after 9/11, and captures the atmosphere of fear and helplessness that results from major disasters. Cloverfield was so popular that it spawned a franchise of loosely-related but equally powerful movies, 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox. It’s an excellent horror/disaster movie that makes rare good use of the found footage format, and it’s by far one of the best horror movies of the ’00s.