The Best Halloween Movies to Watch in 2022 – Scary Horror Films – Harper's BAZAAR

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From gory escape rooms to nightmare Zoom calls, we’ve got you covered.
While horror movies were once reserved for Halloween, it’s now acceptable to watch them at pretty much any time of year. And whether or not you’re a fan of scaring yourself silly with creepy content, it doesn’t hurt to start preparing for the holiday that’s spawned a million franchises. Perhaps you don’t know how Michael Myers got his start or why Freddy Krueger haunts people’s dreams. Maybe you’re in the mood for some gruesome feminist horror, or you want to watch films set on Halloween itself. Whatever you’re in the mood for, we’ve rounded up some of the spookiest Halloween movies around.
John Carpenter turned Jamie Lee Curtis into the original scream queen when he cast her in 1978’s Halloween, which was also her first movie role. Set on the creepiest night of the year, Halloween introduces us to Michael Myers, who seems intent on making the holiday memorable after escaping from an institution. The film has spawned a slew of sequels, some successful, some cringe-worthy. But it’s undeniable that 1978’s Halloween remains an iconic moment in American cinema that’s guaranteed to creep you out.
Throughout the years, Michael Myers has evolved. With 2018’s Halloween, director David Gordon Green reset the timeline, making this movie a direct sequel to Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, who has been living with the trauma of Michael’s attack for 40 years. When he manages to escape (again), she’s ready. Follow this up with 2021’s Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends, due in October 2022.
Directed by Nia DaCosta, with a screenplay co-written by Jordan Peele, 2021’s Candyman breathes new life (and bee stings) into the iconic franchise. If you grew up fearing the legend, the Candyman reboot will tap into your terror by expanding the universe. Visually terrifying, Candyman explores themes of gentrification, race, and the demonisation of Black victims. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Anthony McCoy, an artist with an unhealthy Candyman obsession, who needs to find out what really took place at Cabrini-Green.
Set on Halloween in 1968, this horror anthology is packed with strange and frightening tales. A group of kids discover a mysterious book written by a young girl who committed suicide after being accused of witchcraft. From hulking scarecrows waking up to spider bites spawning millions of tiny spiders, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an unusual addition to any Halloween.
2013’s The Purge started a sprawling franchise, and serves as a stark indictment of what can happen when power and corruption meet. The premise is simple: on one night of every year, all crime is legal, even murder. In this first instalment, Ethan Hawke plays a family man profiting off of his supposedly purge-proof security systems. Three sequels, a prequel, and two seasons of a TV series have followed.
Hocus Pocus has been delighting audiences for three decades already, and a sequel is set to arrive in October 2022. The original Halloween-themed horror comedy stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as three witches who are accidentally resurrected on Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. If you’re not in the mood for serious scares, revisiting Hocus Pocus is the perfect compromise.
Ethan Hawke stars as a true-crime writer looking for his next story, who relocates his family into a house where some mysterious deaths occurred. He soon discovers a collection of Super 8 videos showing a series of increasingly grisly murders, and it’s not long before his entire family is at risk.
Jordan Peele’s Us stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke as a couple confronted by their (extremely violent) doppelgangers. What follows is an extremely fast-paced and bloody film filled with unguessable twists. Unmissable horror.
Part slasher, part horror comedy, Happy Death Day follows college student Tree as she relives the worst day of her life, literally. Just like in Groundhog Day, Tree realizes she’s stuck in a time loop, which forces her to try to identify a killer stalking campus in a Babyface mask. A sequel followed in 2019.
Florence Pugh delivers the performance of her career (so far) in Ari Aster’s sunny horror movie. Following a family tragedy, Dani (Pugh) travels to Sweden to attend a famous midsummer festival with her boyfriend and his friends. What the group doesn’t realize, though, is that they’ve walked into the clutches of a Scandinavian pagan cult.
Maybe you’re a fan of escape rooms, but for some of us, the idea of being locked in a room and forced to solve a series of puzzles sounds like hell. Escape Room is based upon this very premise, except each room ends up being deadly for at least one player. 2021’s Escape Room: Tournament of Champions takes the concept even further. Rather than attending an escape room this Halloween, just stay home and heed this film’s warning instead.
There’s a reason why Megan Fox considers Jennifer’s Body to be one of her proudest moments. Written by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body stars Amanda Seyfried as Needy, whose childhood friend, Jennifer, is possessed by a demon and can’t stop killing boys. The perfect feminist comedy horror for any day of the year, tbh.
Since 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger hasn’t stopped haunting our dreams. Robert Englund, who recently appeared in Season 4 of Stranger Things, portrays Krueger, the iconic boogeyman with the clawed glove. Many sequels have followed, but Wes Craven’s initial Elm Street outing remains the best.
Carrie might not be set on Halloween, but its aesthetic oozes October 31. Adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Sissy Spacek plays the titular character, an awkward teenager with secret telekinetic abilities and an overbearing religious mother. When Carrie is unexpectedly invited to prom, she decides to attend, not realizing what some of the students have in store for her.
Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris, a photographer who gets invited upstate to meet his girlfriend’s very white family. After unsettling interactions with the property’s Black staff members, Chris suspects something strange is going on. A fateful hypnotherapy session to cure his smoking introduces Chris, and the audience, to the “Sunken Place.” Thanks to Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, the horror genre and pop culture in general are forever changed
This little horror anthology didn’t get enough love upon its release, but a growing cult of fans have made up for that in the years since. An eclectic cast including True Blood‘s Anna Paquin and Succession‘s Brian Cox makes Trick ‘r Treat eminently watchable. The movie tells four separate stories, all which feature burlap-sack-wearing trick-or-treater Sam, who appears whenever someone breaks a Halloween tradition.
Parodied in just about every spoof, 1973’s The Exorcist is the very definition of a horror movie classic. If, like me, you avoided the film as a kid, for fear of being possessed like the main character, you can rest assured that The Exorcist is gentler than its reputation might suggest. However, from its jaw-dropping practical effects to the eerie ambience throughout, there’s never a bad time to revisit The Exorcist.
Japanese horror movie Audition, directed by Takashi Miike, focuses on Shigeharu, a widower staging fake auditions to meet a new partner, at the behest of his son. However, when he meets Asami Yamazaki during the process, he has no idea what she actually has in store for him. Much like The Exorcist, Audition has become a film of legend, that is not for the faint of heart.
Forget the reboot. Directed by horror god Wes Craven, with a script from Dawson’s Creek‘s very own Kevin Williamson, Scream literally changed the game by sending up the very genre its a part of. From its acerbic dialogue to Mr. Ghostface’s iconic costume to Drew Barrymore’s unforgettable appearance, 1996’s Scream is impossible to recreate.
After Kristen (Liv Tyler) rejects James’ marriage proposal, the pair spend a tense night in his childhood home following a friend’s wedding. When James goes to buy cigarettes, strange things start happening around the house, and it’s unclear if there’s a supernatural element to the disturbances or not. A shocking denouement reveals all. Follow it up with the equally brutal The Strangers: Prey at Night, starring Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson, released in 2018.
You may have seen the 2002 remake of The Ring, starring Naomi Watts, which is also very good. But if you’re yet to explore The Ring‘s creepy origins, you should definitely seek out Ringu this Halloween. 1998’s Japanese adaptation follows a reporter investigating a video tape that seemingly kills its viewers after seven days. Forget Samara—Sadako will give you nightmares.
Paris Hilton makes a rather fateful appearance in this 2005 remake of 1953’s House of Wax. In fact, the Simple Life star’s screen time led marketing execs to create the now legendary “See Paris Die!” ad campaign. Chad Michael Murray and Elisha Cuthbert star as teens stranded in an abandoned town featuring an intricate and eerily realistic wax museum.
Much like Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween, 1980’s Friday the 13th kickstarted a hugely successful franchise. Even though Jason Voorhees and that hockey mask are missing from the first instalment, it remains an important entry in the teen slasher genre. After 20 years, a group of camp counselors return to Camp Crystal Lake to prepare for its grand reopening. Unfortunately for them, the “death curse” they’ve been warned about by locals is all too real.
Attending an “extreme” haunted house on October 31 sounds like a fun idea, right? Wrong. When a group of friends step through the doors of an abandoned warehouse, they think they’re in for a night of fun scares and costumed ghouls. However, it soon becomes clear that the violence taking place behind locked doors is very real. And the final twist should make anyone audibly ask, “WTF?”
While Death Becomes Her is more of a black comedy than a horror movie, it’s the perfect romp to watch on Halloween. Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn star as women warring over Bruce Willis. However, when they both drink a “magic potion” touting eternal youth, the side effects are pretty wild.
Featuring a series of found footage shorts by the likes of Ti West (2022’s X) and Radio Silence (2022’s Scream), V/H/S started a horror anthology franchise. In this first movie, one of the segments is set on Halloween itself, with the other stories exploring plenty of murder and mayhem.
Whether you love or hate the Saw franchise, it’s most definitely here to stay. 2021’s Spiral surprised viewers thanks to Chris Rock’s brand new take on the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw. While this isn’t necessarily one for hardened fans of the franchise, it’s the perfect entry point for anyone who’d previously sworn off the gore.
While many might call a remake of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic horror picture sacrilegious, 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre stars Jessica Biel, and it’s actually pretty decent. A group of friends are traveling through Texas when they stumble across Leatherface’s house. Bad luck, indeed.
Chucky needs absolutely no introduction, especially now that a second season of his TV series is on the way. But 1988’s Child’s Play introduces us to Andy, a young boy who is given a coveted Good Guy doll for his birthday. Unfortunately, the doll is possessed by a serial killer.
Out of necessity, many of us started using group video chat services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Somehow, 2020’s Host uses the technology we love to hate to create some genuine scares. Filmed entirely on Zoom, Host follows a group of friends who decide to conduct a séance over Zoom. Before long, strange things start happening in their respective apartments.

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