Somebody, somewhere, right now, is making a zombie movie.
Give or take, there are about 10 good zombie movies worth checking out each year. That should satisfy fans of this sub-genre of horror—the modern zombie that George A. Romero introduced in Night of the Living Dead (1968) is a marketing wonder that spawned hundreds of films. Surprisingly, this one-trick pony of dying and coming back to life has evolved through the years. From slow zombies, we now have fast ones. You have vampire zombies on one side and Frankenstein zombies on the other. There are zombies resurrected by aliens, mutated by chemicals, engineered by science, and even raised by the devil. And zombies are just everywhere in pop culture and their movies seem to multiply each year.
What to watch and where even to start? We handpick the best zombie movies of this decade to feed your appetite.
One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Directed by Shin'ichirô Ueda
The "skeleton" crew of a low-budget Japanese zombie horror movie are shooting in an abandoned water filtration plant when out of the blue, a real zombie apocalypse ensues. The highly-motivated director of the movie thought it would be insane not to seize the moment of authenticity and decides to include the "real" living dead in the production. What follows is a historically wild, hilarious and insanely creative one long, single take--thus, the title. The movie premiered worldwide in 2019, the same time as Sam Mendes' 1917--that other movie that's supposedly one long take, but this zombie movies just happens to be more brain-sanity genius.
The Girl With All the Gifts (2016)
They're just trying to survive.
Directed by Colm McCarthy
In a post-apocalyptic Earth, a fungus has turned humans into zombies. Melanie (Sennia Nanua), one of a special breed of children who are zombies, but could think rationally, holds the answer to a cure. When the research facility she is in, is overrun, Melanie along with a small group of soldiers, a doctor (Glenn Close) and a teacher (Gemma Arterton) must try to survive and unlock the cure to save humanity. The Girl With All the Gifts is that rare zombie film with a lot of brains—in the best way. It is an intelligent story with stunning performances, and the setting feeds all your post-apocalyptic fantasies. By far, the best zombie film of this decade.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)
I’ve seen a thousand zombie movies and this is not in any of them. You created a whole new genre here, man.
— Daniel, Zombie Squad
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
The sequel to the cult horror-comedy hit from Norway. It follows immediately the events of the first movie, Martin (Vegar Hoel), the lone survivor of a group of students vacationing in a snowy cabin, who were attacked by Nazi zombies, continues to flee his undead pursuers. Along the way, he finds allies in a trio of American amateur zombie hunters and a horde of resurrected Soviet POWs. The Commies fight the Nazis in an ultra-bloody showdown for the ages, and yes, they have a tank. Dead Snow 2 is the best fun you’ll ever have in the zombie genre.
World War Z (2013)
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight.
— Jurgen Warmbrunn, Director of Mossad
Directed by Marc Foster
UN agent Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family get caught in the middle of a sudden worldwide zombie outbreak with a virus that spreads almost instantaneously. Able to put his family out of harm’s way, Lane must now help the military find a cure that will take him across the globe starting from its origin. Based on the title of Max Brook’s book, World War Z features the most aggrandized version of the fast zombie resulting in unparalleled intensity and claustrophobia. The operating word here is global—the massive scope of the movie makes for one entertaining experience. And don’t mind the critics.
Juan of the Dead (2011)
I’m a survivor. I survived Mariel. I survived Angola. I survived the special period and that thing that came later, and I am going to survive this.
Directed by Alejandro Brugues
In Cuba, Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas), a 40-something all-around handyman, decides to take advantage of an ongoing Zombie holocaust to offer his services of killing and disposing of the undead in exchange for the mighty Cuban peso. Together with his faithful sidekick Lazaro (Jorge Molina) and a crazy bunch of misfits, they clean the streets of the so-called “dissidents.” But, when things go from bad to worse, their only chance of living is fleeing the island. If you think Shaun of the Dead is the funniest zombie movie ever, then welcome to Cuba. Juan of the Dead is a laugh-out-loud slapstick of another kind. A social satire with enough in-jokes to launch an invasion. Not to be missed…dead or alive.
Train to Busan (2016)
Don't go. Please, don't go.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho
Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), a workaholic father accompanies his daughter Soo-an (Kim Soo-an) on a train to see her mother when a sick woman aboard turns into a zombie and begins infecting the other passengers. After the initial panic, Seok-woo works with the other survivors to hold the zombies at bay and discover that a big part of the country is in peril. South Korea’s Train to Busan was a smash hit not just because of its scary scenes and the effective interactions of its characters, but largely in part to its emotional father and daughter story. Do you dare cry in a zombie movie? You just might.
There’s no need to shit. We’ve got nothing to eat.
Directed by Marvin Kren
In this German-made horror movie, Michael (Michael Fuith) arrives in Berlin to patch things up with his girlfriend Gabi (Anka Graczyk) when a zombie epidemic suddenly breaks out. He doesn’t find Gabi and instead, gets trapped inside her apartment with a teenage boy (Theo Trebs). Together, they plan with the other tenants to try and secure the compound and stay alive. When Gabi did show up, Michael discovers something about her that could be worse than a zombie bite. The premise is so simple it should’ve been just an average movie but there’s something in it, a kind of glaring passion, a strength in the human spirit, that elevates it to more than just a zombie movie.
Warm Bodies (2013)
Say something human, say something human, say something human. How are you? Nailed it.
Directed by Jonathan Levine
The story’s narrator is “R” (Nicolas Hoult), a zombie who wanders around the city with his best friend “M” (Rob Corddry) and their horde, doing what typical zombies do, kill and eat brains—which, in doing so, they momentarily absorb the victim’s memories. R talks about his lackluster zombie life until he meets a beautiful human, Julie (Teresa Palmer) and it's love at first sight—which to his surprise, starts to make him human again. Vampires are not the only ones who could make a romcom. Warm Bodies, would you believe, is not missing in the heart department, and its the simple use of narrative that makes it a convincing and enjoyable love story, and buddy movie, too (thanks to Rob Coddry).
The Battery (2012)
You wake up and realize this is how it is right here now. Nobody's gonna flip the switch back on.
Directed by Jeremy Gardner
Two former baseball players Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), try to survive the zombie apocalypse by taking the safer back roads of the Connecticut countryside, scavenging for food and whatever they can use, bickering along the way and in their spare time, play some ball. This is a walkabout movie about friendship, the impact of loneliness and the desperate attempt to keep one’s sanity. A little indie wonder, introspective zombie buddy movie.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse (2014)
I don’t know what’s it all about, but I’m glad I wasn’t there.
— Nick, Ship IT
Directed by Jaume Balaguero
The last (but, possibly not the final) of the [REC] movies, continues the storyline of the original. Angela (Manuela Velasco), the news reporter, is saved by the police and later wakes up in a ship controlled by armed mercs of the Vatican. With them is a doctor (Hector Colome) who is developing a retrovirus and testing it on infected test monkeys that eventually escape and infect the crew. A ship in the middle of the ocean, infected passengers ran amuck, people turn on each other, you know how it all works. [REC] 4 is designed as a non-stop action thriller and that’s how it delivers.
The forecast for tonight is cold.
Directed by Miguel Angel Vivas
In a post-apocalyptic zombie world that has been ravaged by a deadly winter and killed all the undead and almost all of the population, Patrick (Matthew Fox) and Jack (Jeffrey Donovan) with his daughter Lu (Quinn McColgan) live just across from each other but the two sides have never spoken in years. Now, the zombies have returned, mutated to adapt to the cold environment, and Patrick and Jack must reconcile if they are to survive. A harrowing prologue segues to an interesting setup of a no man’s land and the ongoing drama happening between the two parties. Its a great character study with its share of action and thrills. The ending provides plenty of zombies to kill by way of an Alamo stand-off.
Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012)
Those things are vampires! We need crucifixes, garlic, silver, holy water, and Christopher Lee!
— Eric, an old chap
Directed by Matthias Hoene
In order to save their grandfather’s retirement home from being demolished, East London brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway), gather their crew to rob a bank. But, their plans are thwarted by an unexpected zombie outbreak. They make their way to save the old folks and try to head out to safety. This Brit horror-comedy is kind of like two-movies-in one: a bumbling group of bank thieves vs. zombies, and old people vs. zombies. Both have their zany charms and together, they serve a funny, inspired zombie movie.
We cannot turn against each other right now. That's exactly what the beavers would want.
Directed by Jordan Rubin
In this horror comedy, a group of college kids are attacked by zombie beavers…okay, “zombeavers” that were mutated by toxic chemicals. They get trapped inside a cabin where the zombeavers surround them, slowly moving in for the kill. The jokes aren’t super funny, the situations not as gross as it should be, and the usual tropes hardly kept it amusing, but there is a wild, novelty about the movie (and these include the animatronic beavers) that make it a fun watch. You know that the creators weren’t totally serious when they made this, and that’s exactly the mindset for watching it. Have some beaver fever for a change.
The Rezort (2015)
If we could treat the dead like meat, then who’s to say the living won’t be next?
Directed by Steve Barker
On the aftermath of a Zombie pandemic, a resort was built on an island where tourists could hunt and kill zombies for sport. Among the new batch of visitors are a veteran (Dougray Scott), a couple (Jessica DeGouw and Martin McCann), two teenagers, and an activist, Sadie (Elen Rhys) who hacks into the resort’s computer causing a malfunction in the security system. As zombies overrun the resort, the group scramble to safety before the military bombs the island. Simply put, this is like Jurassic Park with zombies for dinosaurs—a capable action survival story that picks up towards the end.
State of Emergency (2011)
It couldn't be worse than the nightmare we're having right now
Directed by Turner Clay
A chemical plant has exploded releasing a toxic that transforms humans into rabid zombies. Jim (Jay Hayden) and his wife try to flee to safety but during the course, the wife gets injured and dies. Alone, Jim hides inside a barn before joining a small group of survivors in a nearby warehouse where they hole up hoping for military rescue. This is B-movie grade budget, not a lot of resources, and totally unknown actors, but the director is able to create suspense, especially in the early scenes and lets his seemingly one-dimensional characters develop. There’s a little romantic melodrama on the side which provides an emotional background story and a thoughtful ending.
The Returned (2013)
Promise me something. Before things speed up and get out of control, you’ll do it.
Directed by Manuel Carballo
In the near future, a miracle drug called “Return Protein” prevents humans who survived a zombie attack not to turn, but must inject themselves every 36 hours. Kate (Emily Hampshire), a doctor who works at the return clinic is secretly living with a returned, Alex (Kris Holdein-Reid). When the supply of the protein runs low and anti-return groups apply pressure, they must find a way to find more before time runs out. Unlike your usual zombie movie, The Returned is an emotional roller-coaster—a thriller rather than a gore fest, and what counts as horror is not with the undead creatures but in human nature.
In this series:
- The Best & Scariest Horror Movies of the Decade (201...
A definitive list of the scariest horror movies of this decade
- The Best War Movies of the Decade (2010-2017)
The best war movies of the decade (2010-2017). Here are recommended watch for the avid war movie fan.
- The Best Vampire Movies of the Decade (2010-2017)
The vampire genre is still alive. Here's a list of the best vampire movies of the decade (2010-2017).
- The Best Foreign Language Films of the Decade (2010-...
The best of world cinema from 2010-2017. These are movies we recommend highly and should be on everyone's must-watch list.
- The Best Animated Movies of the Decade (2010-2017)
The best animated films of the decade (2010-2017) from Pixar, Walt Disney, Studio Ghibli and many more.
- The Best Giant Monster Movies of the Decade (2010-20...
From King Kong to Godzilla, here are the best giant monster movies from 2010-2017.
Ryan from Louisiana, USA on June 16, 2017:
A lot of these I haven't even heard off. Will definitely have to check these out. Thanks for sharing.