The Best Horror Movies of 2022


Horror fans ate very, very well this year.

Best Horror Movies 2022

By Rob Hunter · Published on January 5th, 2023

This article is part of our 2022 RewindFollow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more from this very strange year. In this entry, we explore the best horror movies of 2022.


Horror films come in so many varied flavors — from the deadly serious to the silly and comedic, from monster movies to human terrors — and 2022 saw fantastic examples of every kind hit screens, both big and small. Fans are enjoying something of an embarrassment of riches these days, but that has quickly become a double-edged sword. The more horror films there are out there, in theaters and on home video or streamers, the better the chances that something will be missed.

Still, we horror fans will go the extra mile to see as many entries in the genre as possible each year, and 2022 was no exception. That includes scoping out the scene at film festivals like Fantastic Fest, Fantasia International Film Festival, Chattanooga Film Fest, and more while also hitting up theaters, scoping out VOD releases, and keeping an eye on Netflix, Hulu, and other streamer originals.

Quick note, there were a couple of movies released this year that made my list in 2021 based on festival appearances, including The Sadness and Saloum. So while I’m not including them again, rest assured they are fantastic films well worth watching.

Now keep reading for a look at the 15 best horror movies of 2022!


15. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

It’s probably safe to assume that this is the only list of 2022’s best horror films to include Netflix’s legacy sequel to a straight-up horror masterpiece. That’s neither a knock on everyone else’s taste or a humble brag about my own — but I do recognize that most horror watchers aren’t fans of this one. It’s a shame as David Blue Garcia‘s film is a fun time that delivers some stellar kills and set-pieces (that party bus!), a menacing Leatherface, and an attractive look. The themes are more than a little messy, but its take on past trauma takes a glorious stab at the new Halloween trilogy as Sally returns for a long-awaited face-off with the chainsaw-wielding killer who murdered all her friends back in the 70s. You will laugh, but you’ll also be entertained by the mix of carnage and silliness that delivers horror without forgetting to be fun. [My full review]

Available on Netflix.


14. Moloch (Netherlands)

Moloch

Folk horror typically combines elements of the familiar and cozy with something uncomfortable making its way in. A small community that in other genres would be seen as safe and normal is often turned inside out as dark secrets born of the earth itself come to light. Nico van den Brink‘s feature debut shows that feeling to be universal as horrors unfold in this Dutch gem. It has its own mythology and attractive visuals, but some of its unnerving turns blend the best of cult favorites like Messiah of Evil, and The Wicker Man as strangers and neighbors alike take on an ominous presence. The film also scores by nailing the ending — something far too many horror movies mess up.

Available on Shudder.


13. Glorious

Glorious

Shudder

Single-setting horrors can be tough to pull off as it can be difficult to maintain some balance of suspense, surprise, and dark fun when the scenery doesn’t change. Rebekah McKendry‘s latest takes that challenge and runs with it by setting itself almost entirely inside a rest stop bathroom. Ryan Kwanten finds himself engaged in conversation with a voice (J.K. Simmons) coming from the stall beside him, and things escalate from bathroom etiquette to existential terrors with a Lovecraftian twist. The location never grows stale on the visual front, and the script’s big laughs and left turns work to keep the momentum charging through to the terrifically satisfying finale. [My full review]

Available on Shudder.


12. Slash/Back (Canada)

Slashback

Location and setting play a big part in what makes horror films work, but too often, we’re stuck in the same locales — forests, old houses, beaver-infested getaways. Director/co-writer Nyla Innuksuk‘s feature debut eschews the mundane with an alien invasion tale set in a small Arctic community. The wintry landscape just feels different, and watching the film’s pre-teen ensemble run wild throughout it brings a youthful vibe to the horrors to come. These kids are the heroes, the only ones standing between creepy alien imposters and the safety of their town, and they’re not going down without a fight. It’s gateway horror, the best in some time, and the kid angle doesn’t get in the way of some truly unsettling aliens taking on human skins. Gather your young ones, and settle in for some good times.

Available on Blu-ray, VOD, and Shudder.


11. X

X

Ti West delivered a double feature of horror this year, and while Mia Goth‘s performance in Pearl is worth celebrating, the better film is undoubtedly X. It stars Goth as part of an ensemble of characters who settle in on an older couple’s farm to shoot a porno. Things go sideways when the couple discovers what the young folks are up to, and soon the body count rises. Gory kills, a great 70s vibe, and a terrific pool of actors make for a terrifically entertaining slasher. There’s a choice made here that is a misstep — one designed to bring viewers into Pearl and a trilogy capper — but the slasher beats and personality more than make up for it. [My full review]

Available on Blu-ray, VOD, and streaming.


10. Christmas Bloody Christmas

Christmas Bloody Christmas

We love Christmas horror around here to the point of ranking dozens of them over the years, but for as many as there are, too few of the recent ones are great. Who knew Joe Begos would be the hero we needed on that front? Christmas Bloody Christmas kicks out its premise in quick order — military robots have been repurposed as electronic Santas, but there’s a glitch in the wiring. One small town finds that out the hard way when one starts slaughtering residents on Christmas Eve. It’s a mean, fast, 16mm riff on The Terminator as the mechanical killer slices and dices its way through a Christmas-colored town and faces off against one hell of a final girl in Riley Dandy. Begos gets a lot of bang for his minimal buck here with a great look (a whole town!), some fantastically gory kills, and a pitch-perfect running time under ninety minutes. [My full review]

Available on Shudder.


9. Nope

Nope Sound Design

Universal may not want Jordan Peele‘s latest film being labeled as “horror” if it has awards season aspirations. But while it’s playing around in numerous genres, horror is most definitely one of its primary focuses. It’s horror like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs or the abduction scene in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind — the aliens are here, and they’re going to get you. Of course, Peele has a lot more on his mind than just aliens, and his observations on spectacle and our inability to look away from the dancing monkey find its most terrifying form in that of a chimpanzee who’s simply had enough of (y)our bullshit. That entire sequence capturing Gordy’s meltdown is utterly horrifying.

Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, VOD, and streaming.


8. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies

A24

This year saw more than a few comedic whodunnits — in both mystery (Glass Onion) and slasher (Scream) form — but the best of the bunch takes a little from column A and a bit from column B to deliver a wildly entertaining time. Halina Reijn‘s sophomore feature throws a group of twentysomethings into a mansion during a hurricane. It’s all chill vibes and snark at first, but once the first body falls, all hell breaks loose. Sarah DeLappe‘s script is sharp, funny, and smart with its banter, slams, and observational commentary. Reijn shoots it with style and energy to spare, and it all builds to a supremely satisfying final reveal.

Available on Blu-ray and VOD.


7. Terrifier 2

Art the clown in Terrifier 2

Cinedigm Entertainment Group

It’s not unheard of for a horror sequel to surpass the original, but it’s uncommon enough to stand out when it does happen. While Damien Leone‘s Terrifier (2016) leaves me a bit cold, his follow-up is something… special. Art the Clown is back, this time with a creepy sidekick — seriously, she out-creeps him by a wide margin — but there’s also something of a mythology being crafted here across a whopping 138-minute running time. It’s engaging stuff elevated into the horror stratosphere by numerous scenes exploding with some truly spectacular practical gore effects. The violence is mean, but more than that, it’s graphic, gruesome, and gory as hell. And now I’m eagerly awaiting part three. [My full review]

Available on Blu-ray and VOD.


6. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Sundance 2021: We're All Going To The Worlds Fair

Sundance Institute

There are fantastic horror movies about monsters, killers, and supernatural threats, but few can claim to be as frightening or unsettling as true loneliness. Casey (a heartbreakingly perfect Anna Cobb) is a teen who spends most of her time in an attic bedroom, away from the world, and she’s soon caught up in an internet “game” rumored to affect the player. We watch as she documents what comes next, and writer/director Jane Schoenbrun captures it all with an eye for both the creepy and the affecting. You can’t help but feel for her, helpless as your own heart breaks watching her descent, unnerved by the final implications.

Available on Blu-ray and VOD.


5. Watcher

Maika Monroe in Watcher

After being followed by a curse in 2014’s It Follows, Maika Monroe once again finds herself targeted. Bad for her, but great for horror fans who crave strong performances, beautifully crafted suspense, and pitch-perfect finales. Chloe Okuno‘s dread-filled thriller finds menace around every corner and behind every window, and themes of gaslighting and paranoia weave across the screen in increasingly tense ways. Monroe’s performance leaves viewers walking a fine line in our belief — is she really in danger, or are we just needlessly worried for her because she seems so damn fragile? The ending answers that question in a fantastically defining way. [My full review]

Available on Blu-ray and VOD.


4. Deadstream

Deadstream Bathtub

There are typically numerous found-footage horror films each year, in part because they’re less expensive to produce, but most seem to drop the ball. Some are underwhelming and dull, while others seem intent on breaking every rule of the found footage format. Joseph and Vanessa Winter‘s feature debut is the glorious exception that nails the edit, keeps things lively throughout with legitimate laughs and creepy beats, and beautifully balances its comedy and horror. Joseph stars as a YouTuber trying to recapture his audience by spending a night in a haunted house, and while we’ve seen variations on the setup a hundred times, the film finds a fresh, exciting, and humorous take. [My full review]

Available on Shudder.


3. The Innocents (Norway)

The Innocents

Eskil Vogt‘s deliriously haunting and beautiful Thema (2017) introduced something of a dark side of the coin to the familiar superhero premise of young people discovering special powers within. His latest continues with those themes, but this time sexuality and religious oppression are exchanged for the fragile innocence of much younger characters. These kids are just that: kids. And their friendships are challenged when some develop psychic abilities. One follows a violent path, and the others struggle to fight back, and it all unfolds under the noses of adults oblivious to the war raging throughout their apartment building. It’s a gorgeous film exploring the choices we make during our moral development, and it’s scary as hell for parents. [My full review]

Available on Blu-ray and VOD.


(Tie) 1. Barbarian

Barbarian Review

This is a first for me and these year-end lists, but 2022’s best horror film is… a tie. The two movies couldn’t be more different, but both are masterclasses in their chosen tones and themes. First up is writer/director Zach Cregger‘s genre debut that delivers a slick, creepy, hilarious, and endlessly surprising thrill ride. What starts with a simple premise — two strangers accidentally book the same Airbnb house for the same rainy night — twists, turns, and tangos its way through multiple shifts in its tale. Go in blind if possible, but know that even on rewatches, the film holds up like deliriously entertaining gangbusters. You’ll laugh, you’ll jump, and you’ll smile with delight knowing that 2022 got a horror film as wild as last year’s Malignant.

Available on HBOMax.


(Tie) 1. The Harbinger

The Harbinger

While Barbarian is all about having fun, this year’s other number one is the kind of horror that crawls inside your head and heart for days, weeks, and months after watching. Writer/director Andy Mitton delivers a pandemic film — made both during and about our ongoing situation — that sinks its teeth into the isolation and distance we were all forced to endure. A supernatural element flows throughout, ensuring some truly chilling sequences, but the film finds its greatest horror in its very human concerns. Separated from the people we love, unable to feel their embrace or companionship, it’s easy to lose a sense of yourself. And that means it’s just as easy to be forgotten by others. [My full review]

Available on VOD.


Honorable mentions: Hatching, Hellraiser, Mexzombies, Offseason, The Ones You Didn’t Burn, Orphan: First Kill, Prey, Something in the Dirt, Speak No Evil, Studio 666

Many of you also love: The Black Phone, Bones and All, Halloween Ends, Master, Men, Pearl, Resurrection, Satan’s Slaves 2: Communion, Scream, Smile, A Wounded Fawn

No, these aren’t horror movies IMO: The Menu, Soft & Quiet


Follow along with more of our 2022 Rewind!

Related Topics: 2022 Rewind, Horror

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he’s so damn young. He’s our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists ‘Broadcast News’ as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.





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