Time to get scared.
October is almost upon us, so we can finally begin celebrating the spooky season. And what better way to honor our collective love for chills and thrills than watching some great horror movies? So before we get flooded by the dozens of horror movies set to be released this October, it’s time to look back and find out what are the best horror movies of 2022. This list will surely become more populated as the year passes, but we already have many films that deserve praise for how they breathe new life into beloved franchises, create unique stories, or remind us why we are afraid of the dark.
For the purpose of this list, we are only considering films that got a wide release in 2022, either in theaters, streaming, or digital. Of course, some great horror movies are circling in film festivals right now, but there’s no fun recommending a film that not everyone can watch. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the best horror movies of 2022 (so far).
2022 began strong for horror with the revival of the beloved slasher franchise created by the late Wes Craven. Without Craven to supervise the next chapter in the Scream franchise, some of us feared that SCREAM would slash away what we love the most about these meta-horror movies. However, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett found a way to take the franchise in a new and exciting direction while also honoring Craven’s work. That’s why SCREAM is all about legacy, Hollywood’s exploitation of fan-favorite franchises, toxic fandom, and the last decade’s rise of elevated horror. Craven developed the first Scream as a fun slasher that plays with horror tropes and discusses how our passion for the genre can be dangerous. SCREAM perfectly updates that message by exploring the changes in the horror landscape ever since the release of 2011’s Scream 4. And it does that while still being one of the most entertaining movies released this year. – Marco Vito Oddo
Few directors can claim to be as successful as Jordan Peele. With his third movie, NOPE, Peele solidifies his position as one of the leading voices in horror, delivering another theatrical spectacle loaded with social commentary. After exploring structural racism with Get Out and political extremism with Us, Peele is now concerned with discussing how Hollywood is a predatory industry that devours innocent lives to stay alive. And that discussion becomes very literal once an eye-shaped alien starts to torment the small town of Agua Dulce, California. NOPE is all about people doing everything they can for fame and finding a bloody fate instead. But even without all the subtext, NOPE is still one heck of a crowd-pleaser, featuring a fantastic creature that has already carved its name in the history of most iconic monsters in cinema. NOPE is just as weird as it’s impressive, and it is impossible not to be mesmerized by Peele’s most ambitious film yet. – Marco Vito Oddo
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes for everyone to understand where Speak No Evil is going. In the movie, a Danish family meets a Dutch couple during their vacation in Italy, spends a great time together, and decides to keep in touch. A few weeks later, the Danish family is invited to spend a weekend in the Netherlands, hosted by their new friends. Of course, the house is located in the middle of the woods, with bad phone reception and no one to call for help. There’s little surprise in Christian Tafdrup's third feature film, but where Speak No Evil shines is how it develops its somewhat straightforward story. Speak No Evil is all about the masks we put on in public and how we let minor offenses slide in the name of being friendly and polite. It’s also a very uncomfortable experience of increasing tension. Little by little, the family’s vacation becomes more sinister, but the changes occur so slowly that they only realize the full extent of the horrors they’ll meet when it’s too late. Speak No Evil also has one of the bleakest endings in the history of cinema, leaving a lasting bad taste in the audience’s mouth. After watching Speak No Evil, it takes some time to recover, and that alone should underline how this is a fantastic horror movie. – Marco Vito Oddo
Barbarian is one of those films that everyone says is best to go in with no prior knowledge of. I don't know if that is necessarily true – the story is bonkers no matter what. What starts out as an Airbnb mix-up gone astray goes deeply, deeply off the rails and strays so far from that premise that it's barely what the film is about at all. There are moments of hilarity, moments of horror, and moments of "what the fuck?" which make for a great horror film, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and also: there is a scene where a guy has his arm ripped off, then is beaten with it. That is always cinematic gold to me. – Alyse Wax
While Ti West already had a very successful horror career, X is without question the most impressive feature he has ever released. Filmed in secret during the pandemic, X came out of nowhere and left us all in awe. Following a group of young people trying to get famous by shooting a porn movie, X is a masterful homage to the slasher genre and a clever study of sexuality. The story takes place in the late 1970s, the same decade when Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween were released, leading to Hollywood’s mass production of slashers. And just like those movies, X will follow teenagers being brutally murdered by a bloodthirsty villain. However, while West knows precisely what to rescue from the glory age of slasher, X is also a subversion of the genre’s rules. During the 1980s and even today, slashers tend to punish teenagers for their supposedly immoral actions, mainly the use of drugs and premarital sex. No teenagers are more "sinful" than X’s porn crew, but instead of just killing them for the thrill, West chooses repression as the enemy, turning his slasher into a surprisingly sex-positive feature. X is brutal, fun, and sexy. What else could we hope for in a horror movie? – Marco Vito Oddo
"X is the most impressive feature [Ti West] has ever released." Says the man who has yet to see Pearl. Pearl, though a prequel to X, and shot even more secretively than X, is less a horror movie and more an ode to classic cinema itself. Set in 1918, we follow Pearl, the antagonist of X, as a young woman, left alone with her overbearing mother and her handicapped father when her husband goes to war. Pearl dreams of becoming a star, running off to become an actress or a dancer – anything to get her out of her small-time farm life. The film itself is shot like it is in Technicolor, with vivid colors permeating every inch of the screen in an almost surreal fashion. Mia Goth's performance is truly outstanding, with some amazing long takes that would guarantee her an Oscar, were this not considered a horror film. – Alyse Wax
There’s a guilty pleasure in gore-based horror movies, as it can be amusing to see bodies ripped apart in creative ways. The Sadness is well aware of that, as it pushes gore to its limit by delivering the most brutal movie of 2022. By far! Every death in The Sadness happens in front of our eyes, with no cuts or camera tricks to spare us from the violence. Besides that, since The Sadness does a wonderful job with makeup and practical effects, we can truly feel the weight of every murder. And there are hundreds of murders happening in The Sadness, as the movie follows a virus outbreak in Taiwan. On that note, The Sadness must also be praised for how it updates the zombie genre, creating some of the creepiest infected ever. Instead of turning humans into brainless animals, The Sadness virus only overloads our instinctive desire to destroy and procreate. The end result is zombies that can speak freely and still have human-like intelligence but are entirely driven to rape and kill everyone they meet. The most disturbing aspect of this virus is that the infected are still conscious of their actions, with tears frequently pouring from their eyes despite an evil grin on their faces. No wonder the movie is called The Sadness. – Marco Vito Oddo
Returning to the basics, Prey finally explains why the Predator franchise is so often disappointing. The first Predator remains one of the best action-horror movies of all time, following the deadly game of cat and mouse between an alien carrying wondrous technology and a man fueled only by his wits and rage. Further sequels try to amp up the action by giving the Predator’s new victims more resources to work with. But while every Predator sequel is more explosive than the original, none is so gripping. Prey, however, does the opposite, taking us back to 1719. By uniting the Predator franchise with a period piece, director Dan Trachtenberg recreates everything that made the original story so enticing. Amber Midthunder shines as a young Comanche warrior, using all her knowledge to get whatever vantage she can get to beat an adversary that’s obviously more skilled and better equipped. At the same time, Prey features the scariest version of the iconic monster, making the Predator less human and more feral than previous iterations. Thanks to Prey, we can now be excited about new Predator movies instead of wondering why they are developing another entry of a quasi-dead franchise. – Marco Vito Oddo
Glorious has one of the most curious concepts of the year. What if you found a Lovecraftian Elder God in the most unlikely place? Let’s say, a glory hole in the bathroom of a rest stop by the side of the road? Glorious is well aware of the absurd situation it presents, and that self-consciousness is what allows it to be as funny as it is. There are real stakes in Glorious, as a random man discovers he might be the key to saving the universe from total obliteration. But Glorious is ready to laugh about the idea of finding purpose in the most disgusting place in the world. And while the movie is mainly a horror-infused comedy, Glorious understands perfectly well what makes Lovecraftian creatures so scary by hiding enough information so we can fill it with our most terrible nightmares. On top of everything, J.K. Simmons dubbing an Eldritch monster is almost too good to be true. – Marco Vito Oddo
Hellbender does a beautiful job of updating witchcraft mythology by introducing the new titular creature. A mix between a witch and a demon, a Hellbender's power comes both from innate abilities and precise rituals. That choice allows directors John Adams, Zelda Adams, and Toby Poser to freely explore well-recognized occult symbols and new images unique to their movie, with a result that’s nothing less than stunning. Besides presenting a new creature in a genre where repetition is the rule, Hellbender tells a soul-crushing coming-of-age story as mother and daughter struggle to define their identity as powerful and dangerous creatures. Finally, Hellbender is also infused with metal energy, as the film’s title is also a reference to a fictional band created for the feature, whose original songs result in one of the year's best soundtracks. – Marco Vito Oddo
Infused in body horror, the Finish horror movie Hatching reuses the old doppelgänger trope to deal with repressed emotions, family expectations, and the pressure to look perfect on social media. The story follows Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), a young girl who wants nothing more than to impress her rigid mother, who, in turn, is determined to build the perfect family she wants to show the world through her social media accounts. Things turn dark when the girl finds an egg, decides to hide it in her bedroom, and inadvertently hatches a gruesome creature that looks more like her each day. Hatching is not trying to be subtle, and it reveals quickly how the creature manifests all the anger and sorrow Tinja keeps locked inside while trying to please her mother. That doesn’t prevent Hatching from being a highly-effective cautionary tale about the dangers of raising a child to fit the internet’s twisted idea of perfection. Lastly, Hatching is an ode to the lasting horror of practical effects, shining even more in an era where digital creatures are shoehorned in most movies. – Marco Vito Oddo
Orphan has such a lasting effect on horror culture because of the surprise at its end and the brilliant performance of Isabelle Fuhrman. A prequel, then, sounds like a cash-grab when we are all aware of Esther’s secret, and there’s nothing else that could shock us. Fortunately, Orphan: First Kill proved us all wrong by delivering another thrilling serial killer movie with a big twist that takes the story in a whole new direction. As a prequel, Orphan: First Kill helps to flesh out Esther, played again to perfection by Fuhrman. However, the movie stands as its own self-contained tale of psychopaths doing whatever they need to get what they want. While it starts as a classic prequel, Orphan: First Kill takes Esther on a rollercoaster ride as the story twists and turns unexpectedly. In itself, that’s already a feat deserving praise, but the fact that Orphan: First Kill is so entertaining allows Esther to remain a relevant horror icon. – Marco Vito Oddo
Trauma can be more haunting than any supernatural force, and What Josiah Saw does a fantastic job showcasing how past tragedy can completely unravel people’s lives. The movie follows the story of three siblings, each scarred by a traumatic childhood. Using a chapter structure, What Josiah Saw explores the current life of each sibling while slowly revealing the horrors that shattered their souls when they were still children. Uniting the three stories, there is Josiah (Robert Patrick), the strict father who’ll make the whole family reunite after experiencing a religious revelation. What Josiah Saw has its fair share of supernatural elements, but its strengths lie in the way it explores the damage family can do to us. What’s more interesting about What Josiah Saw is that there are no absolute heroes or villains, and while some characters are more reprehensible than others, the film serves as an honest and raw exploration of the chaos that is living. What Josiah Saw burns slow, but the payoff is well worth it. – Marco Vito Oddo
Mimi Cave’s directorial debut is a delicious story about a cannibal and the victims he keeps in his basement. Fresh starts just like a romantic comedy, and those unaware of what they are watching might be surprised when the movie turns into a full-blown horror movie filled with people-eating scenes that will challenge your stomach. That’s just one of the reasons Fresh is so enticing, as Cave already shows a rare domain over genre and style that elevates a movie that otherwise could crumble under the trope of the girl in the basement. Besides telling a disturbing story, Fresh is also a movie about modern dating, women's objectification, and the social power structure that allows men to get away with the horrific things they do. While Fresh mostly balances subtext and story, the third act gets a little clumsy as the movie tries to ensure people will understand its message. Even so, Fresh remains a tasty entry for horror-hungry people looking for a movie that subverts expectations. – Marco Vito Oddo
With Men, Alex Garland explores misogyny and how women can feel threatened in a world ruled by men. Not surprisingly, Men cannot entirely escape the male gaze while telling its anti-sexism story, which can be somewhat problematic. Even so, Men is a weird and chaotic cinematic experiment that conjures some of the strangest and most disturbing images you’ve ever seen. The feature is also brutally honest, as Garland raises more questions about sexism than it can answer, bringing his own doubts to the screen. Men is not as clean and straightforward as Ex-Machina or Annihilation. But even when its story doesn't hold, it’s still a fascinating movie overflowing with style. The ending sequence, in particular, will leave a mark on anyone willing to give Men the opportunity to scar their brains with maddening imagery. – Marco Vito Oddo
Mad God is an experimental stop-motion animated horror movie that’s more concerned with form than substance. In other words, Mad God is a challenging movie that will leave more viewers confused than satisfied. Those looking for a linear story and explicit references will be disappointed with Phil Tippett’s stop-motion horror. Still, the feature is a technical wonder that deserves all the praise it gets. With Mad God, Tippett pushes the limit of what someone can do with stop-motion, creating a nightmarish landscape where hundreds of individual pieces are moving to the will of animators, frame by frame. It’s a unique spectacle that can enthrall those who let their minds give up the need to make sense of each frame and accept they are being bombarded with hellish flashes of holy terrors. Mad God can be too demanding for some people, and that’s absolutely fine. But for lovers of the weird, Tippett’s is an achievement like no other. – Marco Vito Oddo
Marco Vito Oddo is a writer, journalist, and amateur game designer. Passionate about superhero comic books, horror films, and indie games, he works as a Senior News Writer and Features Writer for Collider.
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Best Horror Movies of 2022 (So Far) Include Pearl and Glorious – Collider
Time to get scared.