Eli Roth is a director, screenwriter, producer, and actor most prominently associated with horror. His acting career began as an uncredited extra in 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and his directing, writing, and production career began in 2002 with Cabin Fever, when he was responsible for all three of those jobs and had an acting role in the film. Roth wrote, produced, or did both on 2005's 2001 Maniacs, 2010's The Last Exorcism, 2012's Aftershock and The Man with the Iron Fists, 2013's The Last Exorcism Part II, 2014's Clown and The Stranger, 2016's Cabin Fever remake, and 2019's Haunt.
When it comes to directing, he's directed nine movies with two more in the imminent pipeline – and it's Roth's directorial career we'll be focusing on in this piece. This list features all of Eli Roth's movies ranked from best to worst.
1 – Fin (2021)
Fin is a feature-length documentary movie following Roth and a team of scientists, researchers, and activists on a worldwide journey exposing the criminal enterprises contributing to the tragic extinction of various shark species.
There's some serious star power behind this one, as Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the executive producers, and the support of organizations such as Oceana, Sea Shepherd, and Wild Aid adds a lot of oomph to it. Fin is an eye-opening, insightful, and upsetting look into a dark truth plaguing our oceans. Roth undoubtedly has a passion for the subject, and that shows. It's a challenging but essential watch, embellished with some gorgeous shots.
2 – The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)
The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a fantasy comedy movie based on John Bellairs' 1973 novel. It's about a young orphaned boy who gets sent to live with his uncle in a creepy old house where he discovers an evil warlock used to live.
It stars Jack Black as Jonathan Barnavelt, the uncle and warlock, Cate Blanchett as Florence Zimmerman, Jonathan's best friend, a witch, and Owen Vaccaro as Lewis Barnavelt, the young boy. The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a refreshing, child-friendly change of pace for Roth and thoroughly entertaining. Aided by a talented and enthusiastic cast, this film is funny with enough creepy elements to entertain horror fans.
3 – Cabin Fever (2002)
Cabin Fever is a horror comedy movie inspired by Roth's real-life experience of developing a skin infection in Iceland. It's about a group of college graduates renting a remote cabin in the woods and falling victim to a flesh-eating virus.
It stars Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, and a game cast of supporting actors who perform well. Cabin Fever is far from the best horror movie set in the woods – look to 1981's The Evil Dead, 2012's The Cabin in the Woods, or 2017's The Ritual for that level of quality – but it has plenty of peril and gore to satisfy Roth's core audience and finds a decent balance between dread and dark humor.
4 – Hostel (2005)
Hostel is a torture horror movie about a group of tourists backpacking across Europe who end up in Slovakia, where they get kidnapped one at a time by an organization that allows people to torture and kill others in exchange for a large sum of money.
It stars Jay Hernandez as Paxton Rodriguez and Derek Richardson as Josh Brooks, respectively, brilliantly conveying the sheer terror of their situations. Hostel is deliciously gory and wildly entertaining, with plenty of tension, though it's sometimes hard to watch. However, Slovakia's people were utterly outraged by the film due to its portrayal of their country.
5 – Hostel: Part II (2007)
Hostel: Part II is a torture horror movie that follows female art students in Rome who take advice to head to a Slovakian village where they suffer a similar fate to the previous film's characters, getting kidnapped and taken to a facility where wealthy clients pay to torture and kill other people.
Lauren German stars as Beth Salinger, with an energetic supporting cast. Jay Hernandez briefly reprises his role as Paxton Rodriguez, and his gruesome early demise sets the tone for an even gorier viewing experience than Hostel. Hostel: Part II is a step up in production value for the franchise, but it is too ludicrous and not fresh or imaginative enough to be considered a better film overall.
6. Grindhouse: Thanksgiving (2007)
Grindhouse is a double feature movie comprising Robert Rodriguez's horror comedy Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino‘s action thriller Death Proof. Roth's contribution to the film is a fictitious trailer for a movie called Thanksgiving, a horror-themed slasher about a serial killer who carries out murders dressed in Pilgrim's clothing.
While Grindhouse is arguably the best film on this list, it's getting positioned on the merit of Roth's contribution. Thanks to its adult themes, the Thanksgiving trailer is great fun and almost earned Grindhouse an NC-17 rating. It stars Jordan Ladd, Jay Hernandez, Michael Biehn, and Roth. Its short runtime limits it – and it would be weird putting it too high on this list – but it's a novel contribution to the film, and the idea has spawned a real movie that will release at the end of 2023.
7 – Thanksgiving (2023)
The real Thanksgiving film had so much hype and promise, thanks to its incredible Grindhouse trailer. Sadly, as we stated in our review, it didn't meet those expectations.
“Thanksgiving overflows with gross-out violence and corny one-liners. The film expands the formerly fake Grindhouse trailer and plays almost exactly as advertised but offers little tasty entertainment. The dialogue grates the nerves, and the characters play as one-dimensional and entitled imbeciles.”
8 – The Green Inferno (2013)
The Green Inferno is a cannibal horror movie and a homage to classic Italian cannibal films, particularly Cannibal Holocaust from 1980, which features a film-within-a-film titled The Green Inferno. In this one, a young woman joins an activist group on a trip to the Amazon rainforest, where they come into contact with a cannibalistic tribe.
Lorenza Izzo and Ariel Levy star as Justine and Alejandro, respectively, and they do an okay job leading the film. The Green Inferno is a good throwback experience that's predictably gory and relentless in forcing viewers to clench. However, It doesn't offer anything new, and its creators should have known better about the stigmas it would reinforce against indigenous people.
9 – Knock Knock (2015)
Knock Knock is an exploitation thriller about a family man and devoted father whose kind gesture turns into a potentially fatal seduction and horrifying game of cat and mouse when he assists two stranded attractive young women who knock on the door of his home.
There's plenty of talent here, as Keanu Reeves plays Evan Webber, the family man, and Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas play Genesis and Bel, who turn up at his house. The core trio do just fine – Reeves, in particular, is excellent – but Knock Knock suffers from an overly campy tone and a repetitive story. It offers some good satire and mildly scary moments but is disappointing, given its cast.
10 – Death Wish (2018)
Death Wish is a vigilante action thriller, a remake of the 1974 movie, and a reboot of the eponymous franchise. It's about a Chicago doctor who embarks on a revenge mission to punish the men who attacked his family, resulting in his wife's death and his daughter getting put into a coma.
Bruce Willis stars as Dr. Paul Kersey, and the supporting cast includes Vincent D'Onofrio, Elisabeth Shue, Dean Norris, and Mike Epps. For a film with such an impressive cast, it's incredibly disappointing. Its biggest problem is that it lacks everything good about the original movie. It's less gritty, intense, and has far less conviction. Death Wish is also a stark reminder of the problem with American gun culture and even glorifies it, and that's far from being a good thing, regardless of how you look at it.
Upcoming and Unranked: Borderlands (2024)
Deleted: Borderlands will be a sci-fi action comedy movie based on Gearbox Software's video game series. It will occur on the abandoned fictional planet of Pandora and follow a group of people searching for a mysterious relic.
Deleted: The impressive cast will include Cate Blanchett in the lead role as the outlaw Lilith, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Borderlands has a lot to live up to, as the video games are top-rated, but we have high hopes for it and can't wait to see Roth's cinematic take on the franchise.