EJ Moreno lists his favourite horror movies of the year…
2022 was a year filled to the brim with amazing horror films. If anyone ever doubted the state of the genre, we’ve collected ten films to prove why horror was in a better shape than any other year in recent memory.
You will find ten films from all over the world and from different studios; some picks may even surprise you as well. There’s something for everyone here, and you’ll likely be delighted to see your favorite make it.
Below, you can check out our list and our video. Make sure to let us know which of these picks stands out as your favorite from the year…
– Bodies, Bodies, Bodies
Werewolf by Night
Like many, I was surprised that Marvel Studios attempted an actual horror film this year. It was a letdown to see Sam Raimi explore the genre in fleeting moments with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and now more than ever, it feels like Marvel has peaked. But Werewolf By Night surprised everyone by not only being one of Marvel’s better projects this year but also working as a near-perfect homage to classic horror.
A group of monster hunters comes together in a competition to see who can possess the powerful Bloodstone. When it turns out that one of the hunters is a monster himself, all hell breaks loose in a gory and artful horror feature. The black-and-white rating helps not only hide the graphic violence from the censors but brings you back to a time when Universal Horror was all the rage. Director Michael Giacchino added such a needed flair to the MCU and werewolf movies, which desperately needed a makeover by 2022.
Many people will scoff at a Marvel movie being placed on a top ten horror list, but don’t let comic book movie bias keep you away from one of the year’s most delicious genre experiences.
Even with the legendary Wes Craven gone, it’s still possible to make an entertaining Scream movie. As the year went on, I appreciated Scream 5, oddly titled just Scream, a bit more. Seeing other entries in popular long-running slasher franchises become polarizing messes or ignored by the mainstream, you begin to see that Scream tried to bring back to life the franchise.
We focus on a new group of young stars this time, but the franchise favorites are still there to offer up all the goodies. David Arquette does much of the heavy lifting for the legacy characters, but Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox do not disappoint. But shoutout to new standouts like Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, and Jack Quaid, who all captured the meta-horror styles of Scream so well.
Radio Silence will never replace Wes Craven as the master of slashers or even the Scream franchise, but they make a reasonable claim at the modern horror crown. With Ready or Not and Scream 5 already in the bag, they have to knock Scream 6 out of the park to prove themselves as genre juggernauts.
One of Sundance Film Festival’s early darlings, Watcher, had rode its momentum to an early Summer release. Written and directed by Chloe Okuno, you must see this exciting and anxious feature as it depicts such a current mood. The film lacks any real twists or turns, but you feel comfortable in the hands of Okuno, who has a confident grip on the material.
Aside from the stellar direction, lead actress Maika Monroe is the real reason to see this chilling film. Her work with co-stars Karl Glusman and Burn Gorman is superb, especially the more tense moments with Gorman’s terrifying Daniel Weber. Monroe plays a woman stalked by a dangerous man and seeing those around turn up missing, yet no one bats an eye at her fear. Watcher plays into those real feelings with a Brian De Palma-like laser focus in an era where women still feel unheard and overlooked.
Sundance had quite a few noteworthy films that could’ve taken this spot: Resurrection and You Won’t Be Alone come to mind. Those films lack the clear vision and real must-see quality that Watcher brings.
For what many thought would be one of the year’s most straightforward horror experiences, Smile surprisingly took things up a notch. The film changes things from its typical spooky jump scare-filled peers; the scares come at a cold and calculated pace, making sure you feel every haunt. We also have another solid performance from Sosie Bacon, who is slowly joining her father in horror icon status.
Where Smile surprised was at the box office, dominating the October season. Along with another entry on this list, it helped take a lot of the steam out of Halloween Ends and cemented itself as this Halloween’s must-see horror movie. With a budget of just $17 million, it’s gone on to gross almost $200 million worldwide. Just in the states alone, it made nearly 100 million dollars, which shows the powerful word of mouth and hunger for fun scares. Smile gave Paramount another win for the year, alongside horror sibling Scream and the dominant Top Gun Maverick.
If it’s a moneymaker or a scare giver, we saw a true horror hit this year in Smile. Again, for a movie many people wrote off as more of the same, it proved to be just the right amount of wacky magic to work.
At the time of writing, Sissy is the best-reviewed film on this list. It sits at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a reasonably average audience score. Reviews don’t make a great horror film, but they show that Sissy made a splash upon release. Directors Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes should be proud to turn this minor indie horror into a great moment for the genre.
Much like Bodies, Bodies, Bodies also from this year, Sissy is one of the better horror films to capture this generation. Once we meet our twisted characters, the slasher mayhem begins, and you are invested in every twist and turn. Poking fun at wellness influencers and social media as a whole, you get a lot of commentary from the film, but it doesn’t lack the absolute horror we all crave as well. Also, a shoutout to actress Aisha Dee for her commanding screen presence, adding more weight to her role and the film overall.
What makes this all work is watching our protagonist become truly triggered by the things around her, unleashing the film’s twisted sense of humor and including some of the year’s most brutal practical effects.
Shudder pumps out so much stellar horror content a year. From shocking films to must-see television, you can always rely on the horror streamer to provide some goodies. Take Mad God, for example. The experimental stop motion animated horror film feels like a fever dream, something filmmaker Phil Tippett wholly wanted from his feature.
Produced over thirty years, Mad God isn’t for the faint of heart. This is extreme horror by way of fantastic animation. You get a bit of David Cronenberg, Terry Gilliam, and Tim Burton from watching this, but Tippett’s masterpiece still feels original. As we follow The Assassin down to a hellish world, descending via a diving bell, we see what sick sights our filmmaker has to offer, and you can see why this took so long to get perfect. Each layer we know, you’re shocked at what Tippet can conjure with his wild imagination.
In one of the year’s most wildly disturbing films, Mad God is a must-see for horror fans, especially those who feel they’ve seen it all. There is bound to be one thing from this film you’ve never thought could happen, and the Mad God that is Phil Tippett cooked it up.
If you want to experience Barbarian properly, go into the piece with little to no knowledge. Even for this write-up, I am worried I’d say too much and spoil the twisted delight. Many will feel like they know where the movie is heading, and the director knows that. Zach Cregger is fully aware that the first act is filled with a horror set-up, you think, you know, and the brilliance happens when the film slams into the second act.
Every little twist and turn here works; the shock factor constantly slaps you in the face, which is rare when dealing with fans who’ve seen it all. Credit to Cregger for his direction, but it’s all on the incredible actors who brought it to life. Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård deserve all the credit for setting it up perfectly and delivering everything they needed. Another special shout to an actor who will be kept a secret. If you’ve seen the film, you know the deliciously horrible person I’m talking about, and if you haven’t seen it, prepare for the Movie Asshole of the year.
Horror is about doing new things but with a familiar formula. That’s a perfect way to sum up Barbarian; there’s something so recognizable about it, but it finds a way of keeping itself fresh.
It doesn’t seem fair to put these two together, as they are different films, but the Ti West doubleheader works so well as a pair. What one lacks, the other makes up for; giving X and its prequel Pearl a perfect one-two combo. While I enjoyed Pearl and its golden-era Hollywood nostalgia, X is equally great at capturing its perfect 70s style.
We can just name this entry The Mia Goth show, as both films highlight the actresses’ incredible talent. If the Academy Awards didn’t have such a bias against horror, we could easily see Goth earn a nom for her work here. Her work in X, playing two roles, was masterful and proved her range as a performer. But we had no idea what she had in store for us with Pearl, giving her the best career performance. Equal parts heartbreaking and horrifying, Pearl could be one of the year’s best performances.
X delivers on the authentic slasher experience more than Pearl and also features a better supporting cast than the prequel. But the craftsmanship Ti West showed in Pearl was unlike anything he’s done before.
Terrifier 2 is a true moment for horror in 2022, going from a small indie horror fest to a box office powerhouse. With only a budget of $250,000, Damien Leone’s sequel took home nearly $9 million. Given its extreme gore and obscure cult status, it’s impressive that this little slasher could make it so far. Many doubted the success, but it shows you that true horror fans will pick their hits.
With Terrifier 2, the twisted Art The Clown returns for bloody mayhem. As far as classic slasher sequels go, this could’ve easily wound up in the Halloween 6 or Friday The 13th Part 6 territory, but Leone knew how to avoid lousy sequel tropes and deliver the goods. The kills are somehow more brutal than the previous entry, Art is even wackier, and the films ups the ante with a supernatural edge. Also, a special shoutout to Lauren LaVera for becoming one of the best modern final girls in the genre; she owns the role and makes us clamor for more.
While the film won’t be for everyone, seeing a smaller film like this get a significant moment in the mainstream is refreshing. From Tiktok challenges to scaring the local news stations, Terrifier 2 entered pop culture with brute force.
At the time of writing this, I’ve seen Nope four times. While horror is usually a rewatchable genre, there’s something Nope that becomes addictive. You uncover new things each viewing, with certain story elements making more sense as time passes. From the Gordy murder spree to the epic final confrontation, you get many great horror moments from a film that bends genre.
As with most of Jordan Peele’s films, there’s some obvious pushback. This does take a page from Jaws and ditches its horror roots for a more action-adventure final act, but the love for the genre never leaves. Peele turned the tired alien horror movie on its head and delivered one of the year’s best films, regardless of genre. What also helps is the brilliant acting, especially from our three central actors, Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun. They make Nope much more unique and give the film much-needed weight.
In one of the year’s most notable projects, a group still doubts the film’s powers. Watch the terrifying scene of what happens at Jupe’s farm and tell me this horror film about spectacles isn’t a traumatic viewing.
What are your favorite horror movies of 2022? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…