Rolling Stone dubbed 28 Days Later, which starred Murphy and Brendan Gleeson, as the scariest movie since the turn of the millennium.
The zombie movie is credited with bringing the Cork actor to Tinseltown attention — with roles in Batman Begins and Red Eye following his portrayal of a bike courier pursued by the living dead in a post-apocalyptic London.
The film, helmed by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle, came in at the top of their poll of the 50 Greatest Horror Movies of the 21st Century.
“As with many great horror movies, Danny Boyle’s eviscerating zombie thriller grew out of real-world terrors”, said Rolling Stone.
“28 Days Later, in which a handful of survivors including Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris try to stay a step ahead of unstoppable hordes of rampaging undead. In the wake of 9/11’s jolting tragedy, this prescient horror film also spoke to unconscious anxieties about a world in which simmering tensions and seething paranoia felt like a terrible new normal.”
Murphy’s role brought him to the attention of Hollywood and helped him land the role as evil Dr Crane in Batman Begins and later in The Dark Knight.
28 Days Later also starred Gleeson as warm father figure, Frank, who desperately tried to protect his young daughter, and Harris, also in a breakthrough role, as gutsy survivor Selena.
Rolling Stone said there was stiff competition: “Zombie-apocalypse tales, things-that-go-bump-in-the-psyche ghost stories, retro-slasher flicks, neo-giallo nuggets, J-horror, K-horror, French extreme and Hollywood franchise films that have spooked us, shook us and scared us shitless since 2000.”
Shaun of the Dead makes No 8 on the list; while The Others starring Nicole Kidman is also one of the top horrors of the century.
Irish actresses Fionnuala Flanagan and Elaine Cassidy bagged starring roles opposite the Australian A-lister in the film which centres on a woman living in a darkened house with her light-sensitive children.
Horror’s top 10
¦ 1. 28 Days Later (2002)
¦ 2. Let the Right One In (2008)
¦ 3. The Babadook (2014)
¦ 4. The Conjuring (2013)
¦ 5. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
¦ 6. Pulse (2001)
¦ 7. The Witch (2009)
¦ 8. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
¦ 9. The Descent (2005)
¦ 10. Under the Skin (2013)