Spooky-tide is upon us, and nothing makes me feel more alive than the annual heyday of the undead. Below, I’ve listed (in no particular order) some of the best horror movies 2022 had to offer.
Some, I’ve seen. Some, I haven’t. All of them, for better or worse, Diddy Bop atop my Interest Button — and likely, yours.
Writer: Jordan Peele, Director: Jordan Peele
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “Two siblings who run a California horse ranch discover something wonderful and sinister in the skies above, and the owner of an adjacent theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon.”
Jordan Peele has not only redefined the horror genre, but he also managed to successfuly mix westerns, sci-fi, and horror with Nope. Also, this cast is incredible, with Keke Palmer CONSISTENTLY killing it and Daniel Kaluuya’s once-in-a-generation talent showing its versatility yet again. Aliens. Unscrupulous entrepreneurs. Existential dread. Sounds like the aptest representation of our post-pandemic zeitgeist.
If you want to dive deeper, check out our video essay about the meaning behind Jordan Peele’s Nope.
Bodies Bodies Bodies
Writers: Sarah DeLappe/Kristen Roupenian/Chloe Okuno/Josh Sharp/Aaron Jackson, Director: Halina Reijn
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “When a group of rich 20-somethings plans a hurricane party at a remote family mansion, a party game goes awry in this fresh and funny look at backstabbing, fake friends, and one party gone very, very wrong.”
Seeing Amandla Stenberg, Lee Pace, and Pete Davidson in the same movie is a little like getting yogurt and honey on my bacon at brunch — not quite what I would have asked for, but I absolutely do not hate it. Plus, spoiled rich kids getting slasher’d is a lot more fun and efficient than bringing back the guillotine.
Writers: Joshua Hull/David Ian McKendry/Todd Rigney, Director: Rebekah McKendry
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “A heartbroken man finds himself trapped in a bathroom with a strange voice who says he may be the only hope in stopping a terrible event.”
From True Blood to Dead Silence (which was WAY scary, thanks very much, haters) — it’s safe to say Ryan Kwanten deserves to be treasured as a Scream King. Public restrooms are terrifying on many levels. This film is sure to have the next generation of Horror movie fans making sure they go at home.
Writer: Patrick Aison, Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, ‘Prey’ is the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior. She has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters who roam the Great Plains, so when danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.”
As our protagonist Naru, rising powerhouse Amber Midthunder steals the show from an extraterrestrial legend — with lovable Dakota Beavers bringing up the rear. Midthunder is the heiress to a quiet storm of a Hollywood dynasty. And her ability to carry this film, mostly on her back alone, shows us that her reign was written in the stars.
Writer: Carlota Pereda, Director: Carlota Pereda
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “With the summer sun beating down on her rural Spanish town, Sara hides away in her parent’s butcher shop. A teenager whose excess weight makes her the target of incessant bullying, she flees a clique of capricious girls who torment her at the town pool, only to stumble upon them being brutally kidnapped by a stranger, who drives off with them in his van. When the police begin asking questions, Sara keeps quiet. Intrigued by the stranger — an interest that’s mutual — she’s torn between revealing the truth and protecting the man who saved her.”
Being “big-boned-ed-ed” myself, I can absolutely understand the appeal of this film when talking about creative catharsis. Messy-and-Complicated™ heroine Sara is giving “Carrie White With A Tighter Alibi” in this revenge-by-proxy flick. It also doesn’t shy away from some philosophical questions, which always makes Horror a little juicier.
Writers: Ben Collins/Luke Piotrowski/David S. Goyer, Director: David Bruckner
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “A new take on Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic in which a young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.”
The original Hellraiser is one of the films that scared the marshmallow fluff out of me as a young padawan — and I know I am not alone in that. This reboot is exciting in the way it embraces a more grimly gorgeous side of the macabre. Sumptuous design elements add a subtle allure to the “violent delights” these neo-Cenobites have to offer.
Writer: Alex Garland, Director: Alex Garland
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, Harper (Jessie Buckley) retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside, hoping to have found a place to heal. But someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread becomes a fully-formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears in visionary filmmaker Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation) feverish, shape-shifting new horror film.”
Alex Garland has the whole Subtle Horror thing in the bag. With work chock full of intelligent commentary, it’s easy to make it a point to just stay up-to-date on his releases. Besides, this seems like the quintessential example of Gaslight Horror since — well — Gaslight. (RIP, Angela Lansbury).
Writer: Ti West/Mia Goth, Director: Ti West
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “Filmmaker Ti West returns with another chapter from the twisted world of X, in this astonishing follow-up to the year’s most acclaimed horror film. Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl finds her ambitions, temptations, and repressions all colliding in this stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X’s iconic villain.”
When considering Pearl over its same-year prequel, X, there are a couple of factors working in the follow-up’s favor — mainly that this one stars a Philadelphian. As well, there’s just something about the setting and tone of the origin story which makes me wonder if it was the overall point of the franchise all along. Maybe Mia Goth’s creative partnership is the secret sauce here, but this one makes me want to watch the films in the opposite order.
Writer: Parker Finn, Director: Parker Finn
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.”
This one goes out to every individual who has ridden a train across from Creepy McSlasher-Smile. If you ever wondered what producers mean when they say they’re seeking a “high concept project”— it’s this. Smiles are canceled indefinitely.
The Black Phone
Writers: Scott Derrickson/C. Robert Cargill/Joe Hill, Director: Scott Derrickson
Rotten Tomatoes Logline: “Finney, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.”
Who doesn’t want to see a brilliant kid Escape Room his way out of a hell-cell? Joe Hill’s original short story by the same name definitely lays the groundwork for this riddle-ridden magic. But Cargill and Derrickson are a dynamic duo to be reckoned with. And as someone who’s had the distinct honor of reading oracle cards for Scott — I can personally say, the guy is ascended AF.
Happy hauntin’, Horror movie fans!
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Author: Chris Courtney Martin