Unlike action films that have loud villains and fancy backdrops, serial killer movies take place in the here and now, camouflaging the killer behind the makings of an average Joe. Playing on this trope, the 2000s saw a boom in serial killer movies from across the globe, giving fans much to think of in terms of plot and context.
From introverted torture artists to sexually-frustrated predators, the 2000s saw an abundance of serial killers drenched in blood and gore. That being said, get some popcorn, fix yourself a drink, and get ready to be sucked into a world full of shock and horror with the greatest serial killer movies of the 2000s.
10 No Country For Old Men (2007)
Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh is the embodiment of spine-tingling, bone-chilling, horror. The crazed psychopathic killer is a force of nature, almost operating like an evil spirit, alien to pleasure or pain.
The Coen Brothers’ filmdoesn’t play out like a conventional serial killer film, where the killer is being pursued by authorities. It rather flips the narrative on it’s head and follows Chigurh as he leaves behind a trail of blood and bodies to recover a suitcase full of cash.
9 Surveillance (2008)
In a crime-festered world full of smoke and mirrors, Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond star as two caffeinated FBI agents tracking a serial killer with the help of his three would-be-victims. Directed by David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer Lynch, Surveillance is atmospherically creepy, tense, and features oddball characters that look like they belong in the Lynch Universe.
8 Monster (2003)
Denver & Delilah Films
Having been known for her beauty and grace, Charlize Theron is completely unrecognizable and unbelievable in Patty Jenkins’ biographical crime drama about sex worker-turned-serial killer, Aileen Wournos. Considered by many to be the gold standard of acting, Theron’s performance completely embodies Wournos’ persona as her arc goes from being prey to predator.
7 Identity (2003)
Sony Pictures Releasing
Identity is more of a “whodunit” than a slasher/horror film, as it follows the fate of 10 strangers stranded inside a motel during a storm. As the random group of strangers gets acquainted with each other, they soon realize there’s a killer among them. Racing against time, the group must figure out the identity of the killer, before becoming his/her next target.
Set against the backdrop of a creepy motel, Identity is a fast-paced thriller wonderfully aided by Phedon Papamichael’s bleak cinematography and Mark Friedberg’s multi-layered production design.
6 From Hell (2001)
20th Century Fox
Loosely based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel about the Jack the Ripper murders, From Hell is a terrifying period drama that has Johnny Depp play the role of an opium-huffing clairvoyant detective, Frederick Abberline. Despite being very entertaining and gripping, From Hell isn’t entirely accurate in its portrayal of what actually went down in history.
5 Insomnia (2002)
Warner Bros. Pictures
Set against the bleak backdrop of an Alaskan town, Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia is powered by a dual engine of Al Pacino and Robin Williams. In a testament to his multifaceted approach to acting, Robin Williams plays the role of a local crime reporter Walter Finch, who’s soft and simple on the surface, while being sadistic and twisted from the inside.
Investigating the murder of a teenage girl, the closer detective Will Dormer (Al Pacino) gets to solving the case, the more unsettled he gets mentally.
4 The Chaser (2008)
Na Hong-jin’s The Chaser is one of the darkest and most gripping thrillers to come out of Korea in recent years. Playing out as a thriller in the first half and a police procedural in the next, Hong-jin’s film revolves around an eccentric pimp that realizes some of his girls have gone missing. As he digs deeper, he realizes and identifies the serial killer behind their disappearance and has 12 hours to find evidence to back up his claim.
Kim Yoon-seok’s and Ha Jeong-woo deliver two of the greatest performances in modern Korean cinema as Yoon-seok’s selfish pimp is pitted against Jung-woo’s eerily cool and conniving serial killer.
3 American Pyscho (2000)
Lions Gate Films
American Psycho is one of the rare few films that uncover the inner workings of a serial killer by shedding light on their huge sense of insecurity. In another interesting take on the genre, Mary Harron’s film aims at revealing filth and insanity in the last place one would think of finding it, the pristine world of the rich and wealthy.
This atypical combination between an investment banker and a deranged killer told with a satirical tone of farce and black comedy is a refreshing take on a somewhat parched and bleak genre.
2 Zodiac (2007)
Based on the true story of the Zodiac Killer, Fincher’s film explores one of the most infamous manhunts in U.S. history. A case study in atmospheric tension, Zodiac is a rollercoaster ride that’s operated at the mercy of the Zodiac killer, twisting at turning throughout its course. Often considered to be one of Fincher’s best works along with Seven and Gone Girl, Zodiac is a creepy film that’ll have you suspiciously look over your shoulder for days.
1 Memories of Murder (2003)
Memories of Murder is arguably one of the greatest serial killer films of the 2000s. The film is based on Kim Kwang-rim’s 1996 play, Come to See Me, and tracks South Korea’s first confirmed serial murders that rocked the city of Hwaseong in the late ’80s.
After a little over two hours and 10 minutes, Bong’s film ends on a cliffhanger, being suggestive of the killer without identifying him completely, a decision that’s in line with the historical accuracy of the case. It was only in 2019 that the killer’s identity was revealed when a man named Lee Choon-jae admitted to all the nine killings, sending shock waves down the country’s spine.