Pillars of Horror V: 2000s


An iconic scene from the first Paranormal Activity where Katie and Micah experience a haunting. Photo credit: Image credit: Blumhouse Productions/Paramount Pictures

Rafael Magana

Hello, and welcome back to Pillars of Horror!

Each week we will be looking at a different decade of horror movies and examining what made them so iconic.

This week, we’ll be delving into the new millennium, and be taking a look at some of the most impactful horror movies of the 2000s.


The 2000s were a period of definite change in the United States. Bush was inaugurated as president in 2001, the internet was starting to become a thing that many households were becoming adjusted to, and towards the end of the decade, Obama became the first African-American president.

This was also the decade where horror movies began to evolve into the type of horror that we’re familiar with now. There’s two that are primarily responsible for this: Saw and Paranormal Activity.

The iconic "Bear Trap" trap from the first Saw movie. Traps like this are part of the appeal of the movies for many.
The iconic "Bear Trap" trap from the first Saw movie. Traps like this are part of the appeal of the movies for many. Photo credit: Image credit: Twisted Pictures/Lionsgate Films


To call Saw influential would be an understatement. Released in 2004 and directed by James Wan, the story follows two men who are chained in a dilapidated bathroom who are ordered to kill each other by the Jigsaw Killer.

The film is the first in a long series of films which all follow similar premises. This film is also notable for not being as graphically violent as the ones that precede it, yet it did help popularize the “torture-porn” subgenre of horror that grew ever so popular in the following years.

Saw was also our first look at the Jigsaw Killer, John Kramer, who is played by Tobin Bell. The Jigsaw Killer is one of the most iconic horror villains in recent memory, and one cannot think of Saw without Billy the Puppet either, who still haunts audiences with his trademark laugh.

Paranormal Activity:

Following in the footsteps of movies like The Blair Witch Project before it, Paranormal Activity influenced a whole generation of “ghost type” horror movies that would follow in the years that followed. Directed by Oren Peli and released in 2009, the film follows a couple who believe that they are being haunted by a supernatural entity.

The film utilized a similar “found footage” type of method that was used in Blair Witch, but this time took the action in the home of the main characters. The film was also notable for the fact that it was produced on a very low budget and grossed a high amount of box office income.

This was the first in a long-running series of movies under the Paranormal Activity name, many of which failed to capture the initial success of terror and wonder that the first one did so marvelously.

That’s it for this week’s installment of Pillars of Horror! Join us next week when we’ll look at the 2010s and the movies that defined that decade: The Conjuring and Get Out.