Photo courtesy of “Pearl” official IMDb page.
Photo courtesy of “Pearl” official IMDb page.

The best horror films of 2022

Ten of the year’s scariest movies to chill, thrill, and move you

December 31, 2022

2022 was a banner year for the horror genre. From flying saucers to murderous farm girls, the year proved to be a treasure trove of stylish and shocking thrills. Though we saw the return of familiar icons like Leatherface, Ghostface and Michael Myers, the year was also rife with wholly new and uniquely disturbing stories. This list offers a look into some of the best of both.

10. “The House”

IMDb

The first entry on our list is an unorthodox one. “The House” is a chilling anthology horror film in three parts, all rendered in beautiful stop-motion animation. All three stories are centered around the titular house, from capturing its earliest inhabitants to a post-apocalyptic wasteland ravaged by flooding. The first of the stories is closest to a traditional haunted house story. It features two children who suspect foul play from the mysteriously wealthy architect who invited their impoverished family to move into the luxurious estate. The second segment involves a bug infestation in the house, featuring one of the most stomach-churning sequences I’ve seen. The final story is more somber in tone, following the house’s latest landlord struggling to maintain order amidst the apocalypse. Quietly released on Netflix early this year, “The House” is a beautifully-made collection of unsettling stories, each oozing with their own eerie atmosphere.

 

9. “Pearl”

IMDb

Director Ti West’s almost immediate follow-up to his film “X,” also released this year, delivers on the thrills you’d expect from a psychological thriller, all with a sickly humorous atmosphere. “Pearl” follows the titular lonely farm girl, played by Mia Goth, as she descends further into her own fascination with murder and stardom. Goth’s performance has already garnered her a cult following online, and rightfully so. Her magnetic presence and West’s classic Hollywood stylization makes this one of the most entertaining horror films of the year.

 

8. “Hellraiser”

IMDb

The “Hellraiser” franchise is no stranger to schlock, but this year’s entry is something truly special. Director David Bruckner’s reboot of the iconic property reinvigorates the concept with beautifully graphic creature designs and layered, likable characters. It’s not often that we get a horror movie that can bring intense gore and honest pathos in the same scene, and “Hellraiser” does it. Jamie Clayton’s cold, intimidating portrayal of Pinhead is worth the price of admission alone.

 

7. “Resurrection”

IMDb

One of the less talked-about horror films this year, “Resurrection” is an incredibly tightly-wound film. Starring the incredible Rebecca Hall, the film follows a successful businesswoman and mother named Margaret whose life is turned upside down when a mysterious man from her past (Tim Roth) shows up without warning. This is one of those horror films that doesn’t even feel like a horror film for its first few scenes. Roth enters the film and immediately changes the temperature of the story. His subtle manipulations bend Margaret’s mind to reconsider her entire past and fall deeper and deeper into paranoia and madness. Hall gives a heartbreaking monologue halfway through the film that beautifully reflects the film’s themes of devotion, parenthood, and the search for control of one’s life. It’s a uniquely cinematic story that must be seen to be believed.

6. “Mad God”

IMDb

“Mad God” is less of a traditional horror movie and more of a nightmarish fever dream. The film was directed by Phil Tippett, one of the visual effects masters behind “Star Wars,” “RoboCop” and “Jurassic Park.” The whole film was made in go-motion animation, with countless bizarre monsters and environments rendered in gruesome detail. There is no central story to the film, but the journey through the world of “Mad God” is enough to keep anyone enraptured. Decades of conceptualization and animation went into the film, and you can see the work on every frame. There is an incredible amount of detail that will make you wonder about the backstory of every gooey monster and setting.

 

5. “Crimes of the Future”

IMDb

The latest film from horror legend David Cronenberg is set in a future where humans regularly generate new organs as a response to our increasingly unnatural environment. Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux play performance artists who do public surgeries and tattoo their organs for select audiences. Bizarre? Absolutely. But the frank display of bodies makes the interrogate the relationship to their own bodies, how its basic needs reflect the simplicity of our mind’s needs. The performances in the film are disturbing and alluring, particularly that of Kristen Stewart. “Crimes of the Future” is a fascinating watch, both deeply unsettling and emotionally transparent.

 

4. “Nope”

IMDb

“Nope” follows a pair of sibling horse wranglers who suspect that extraterrestrial life has been lurking around their ranch. Their attempt to collect evidence becomes increasingly complicated and revealing about themselves. Much like “Get Out” and “Us,” “Nope” is about much more than its initial setup. The film asks us to question our fascination with spectacle and when that fascination becomes self-destructive. Despite its heady ideas, the film still feels like a genuine Hollywood blockbuster. Irresistibly funny, with the scariest depictions of alien life since 2002’s “Signs,” “Nope” is a miracle of a film.

 

3. “Barbarian”

IMDb

One of the greatest assets of “Barbarian” is its unpredictability. When Tess arrives at her Detroit Airbnb, she finds it’s already inhabited by another man. Their coexistence leads to even stranger, more disturbing events when something sinister seems to be going on in the basement. The twists throughout the film, without revealing too much, are some of the scariest and most entertaining ones you’ll experience this year. Director Zach Cregger plays every beat to its bitter end, leaving you on the edge of your seat at every moment. It’s a beautifully simple film, made with extreme care and a seriously deranged sense of humor.

 

2. “Bones and All”

IMDb

“Bones and All” is a romantic horror film about two young cannibals living in 1980s America. Balancing gory deaths with a softly sweet melancholy tone, the film feels both visceral and emotionally brutal. It’s the latest film from director Luca Guadagnino, whose work includes the now classic “Call Me By Your Name” and the 2018 remake of “Suspiria.” Guadagnino’s ability to capture intimate moments elevates this from a typical young adult romance into something far more moving. It’s a testament to the range of emotions that horror can generate in audiences.

 

1. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair”

IMDb

The best horror film of the year is also probably the best film of the year. Directed by Jane Schoenbrun, “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” follows the teenaged Casey as she becomes immersed in an online horror game and begins to believe that it’s real. As disturbing as the story is, Schoenbrun manages to make us empathize with Casey at every turn. She is not a misanthrope or a hopeless weirdo, she is simply a teenager who felt that the internet could help her out of her own loneliness. It’s a remarkably moving story that also happens to be the best presentation of life on the internet in film.

Thomas Machacz can be reached at [email protected]

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