If we’re going by outdated critical opinions, which IMO is a bit of a cop out - The Shining would be on my list. It won Razzies. It’s now today in the argument for best horror film of all time.
Vertigo was once considered a flop, but is now regarded as the greatest film of all time.
Both The Shining and Vertigo were revolutionary films that came out before their time because the cultural paradigm at the time wasn’t really ready for those types of films. Of course, you had people thinking “Whoah! This is (one of) the best film(s) I’ve ever seen!” And they eventually won out over the critics and popular opinion.
The Shining and Vertigo are both in my top 25 at least (Vertigo is arguably my #1), so those would be my picks of films where the critics originally got it wrong. As for horror, I think the one I like best currently is Hereditary - but so many great horrors have been coming out in the past decade or so. Insidious really kicked off a revolution.
If I would pick a film that is, granted, a bit dated today, that I really liked that a lot of people didn’t: The Grudge (2004). I thought this one was fantastic in how it used tension and execution. It also had the Sam Raimi budget, production, and time for Shimizu to really craft a great horror film for the era. I appreciate the others, but found the tension and pacing fell flat in a lot of the time. When I think of horror films from this era, that’s the one that sticks out. But when I saw The Grudge, it was probably the first time a horror film really frightened me since childhood. I mean, late 90s stuff wasn’t even trying to be scary, it was just making fun of the blatant formulaic slasher film that had dominated the genre since the early 80s. At least for my generation, the slasher genre was seen as more of a comedy sub-genre than anything, like our version of slap stick + dark humour. The Grudge was a big change for that.
The other one from that era is the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and while I like that film, and really liked Sarah Polly’s acting (wish she was in more things, as she had loads of potential), it suffers massively by comparison to the original Dawn of the Dead which is a much grittier and more grand scale film - while both have the mall setting, you’re talking a few days for the remake compared to about a year or more for the original - and with the original you follow the characters preparing their sanctuary while watching the rest of the world collapse around them as the days and months pass… unfortunately, the remake just focused on the characters, had little references to the original, and had some interesting ideas. Still, Dawn of the Dead 06 (or was it 05) was a good film for its era. Bust don’t compare it to the original Dawn of the Dead, which is an all time mega classic.
There is also The Butterfly Effect, which I remember stood out in this era. I don’t have much to say about it as I haven’t seen it in a long time.
Of course, and this is just my opinion, but Insidious revolutionized horror, and the era since has been the best of all time, IMO, finally beating that late 70s/early 80s era. It’s a bit hard to look back at the pre-Insidious era and talk about it with praise given James Wan has REALLY stepped it up with tension and execution for those style of horror films. I have yet to see one that has given me goosebumps more than Conjuring 2 did. But films like Hereditary really show the impact that The Shining had on the genre. And like the late 90s, there are too many horror films to watch, I love the feeling of missing something and discovering it has a cult following, and being surprised at how great it was - knowing there’s a bunch of hidden gems out there.
I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.