Spotlight: The Best Horrors of 2022

What a year for a film, and what an exciting time for horror! There are so many that I really don’t know how I can possibly only highlight ten. Who made this number up as the definitive one anyway? Instead, I’ve decided to give a place for all of them! Why not? Horror knows no bounds.

The variety is quite eclectic, so if you’re looking for your next horror fix you’re bound to find it on this list, one way or another. Many of these I have written longer reviews for (either on here or on FI) and I will include the link. For the others, I’ll elaborate. As always, thanks for reading, thanks for staying spooky, and thank you for supporting horror!

Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg)

This is one favorite horror as it’s one of my top ten (overall) of the year, but what is intriguing about this particular Cronenberg creation is that it doesn’t feel like a horror to me. It morphs into something much more, and it’s a film I can’t wait to revisit. Currently streaming on Hulu.

I’ve got to admit I was pretty enamored with this one. It was a no holds barred return to form opportunity that was seized with an instinctual, sexual-like curiosity. What can the human body do? What should it? A true visionary, Crimes of the Future sees Cronenberg at his most curious and morose in many years.

Speak No Evil (Christian Tafdrup)

Speak No Evil was one of the first horrors I saw in 2021, and its impact is as strong today as it was then. It has to be the most discomforting horror I saw this year and the unique way that it wields that power is quite impressive. Currently streaming on AMC+.

The effects of this movie, and its final scenes still cling to my bones. Speak No Evil winded down with a quick and punching descent into significant darkness, and it left me pondering the details I had consumed in the previous 70+ minutes of watching. Shook.

The Wounded Fawn (Travis Stevens)

The Wounded Fawn was such a uniquely weird viewing experience that is definitely a must-see because it’s difficult to truly describe. Just let its freaky little vibe wash over you. Travis Stevens directs and is fantastic as always, and Josh Ruben is hilarious. Currently streaming on AMC+.

It is often a visual explosion, frequent bright tones of red reminding us of the blood lust at the core and the blood price to be paid. It’s an intriguing concoction of supernatural forces, psychological torment, and hilariously disturbing imagery. It also has to be said that it has one of the funniest extended finales I’ve seen in some time. A Wounded Fawn is delightfully bizarre and a daring dose of horror.

Barbarian (Zach Cregger)

This was one of the most fun horror experiences this year (the same can be said about the previous one too). The setup is interesting and current, and the twists are both creepy and hilarious. It’s good storytelling and still entertaining as hell. Gosh, I love Justin Long. Currently streaming on HBO Max.

Certainly, Barbarian is one of our best treats this spooky season with ample mystery and pure entertainment value. It’s what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know quite what that entails, but the set design, acting, and perverse, disturbing twists, make Barbarian a worthwhile discovery. Just bring a flashlight.

You Won’t Be Alone (Goran Stolevski)

You Won’t Be Alone is a movie that takes its time burrowing into you, but once it does it is hard to forget. This is one that still resonates, feeling like much more than a “horror” making you question identity and life. Currently streaming on peacock.

If parts terrify you, you’ll feel a sense of wonder by its end. There’s a metamorphosis that utilizes the full run time to ensnare the viewer.

It is haunting in its ability to convey what many others attempt. There’s nothing not challenging about this piece of art, but if you give yourself over to You Won’t Be Alone, and let it really sink in, I can’t imagine you not being moved.

Pearl (Ti West)

Pearl, the prequel to X, is definitely superior. The electrifying performance by Mia Goth (Oscars FYC) ensures that this horror is one of the year’s best. Currently available on VOD.

Pearl is a compelling and sinister intro to the character established earlier in the year, taken to new heights by Mia Goth’s striking performance.

The Innocents (Eskil Vogt)

The Innocents, much like Speak No Evil was one of the horrors this year that burrowed deep under the skin and left a lasting impression. I still shudder thinking about some of the scenes from this movie. Thank you 2022 for showing us that kids can be creepy again. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Shockingly disturbing, discomforting, and entirely evocative; there are scenes from The Innocents that have still not left me, weeks later, and there are feelings trapped, wound with celluloid in their pristine heritage that makes me confirm a truth despite any negative reactions: this is talent.

Prey (Dan Trachtenberg)

Who would think that a new Predator film that was actually a prequel would end up being one of the best of the series? With a standout performance from Amber Midthunder and a fresh, new perspective that utilizes practical effects and delivers on nostalgia, Prey is a must-see. Currently streaming on Hulu.

Deadstream, (Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter)

Deadstream manages to be quite commanding despite being one-setting, a limited cast, and a found-footage-like aesthetic. It’s witty when it needs to be, and disturbing when we need it to be. Currently streaming on AMC+.

I was pleasantly surprised by how hard Deadsteam hit. It was a blast, filled with a delightful blend of hilarity and horror and effects that felt real. It’s a must see for horror lovers! PSA: maybe don’t stay in a haunted house and if you do, bring duct tape. It’s super versatile.

Sissy (Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes)

Sissy was a delightful surprise that plays with its audience much like our lead, an influencer, might with her fans. We like her, and we root for her, but should we? Currently streaming on AMC+.

Overall, Sissy was a revenge tale that was an unexpected thrill. It causes a variety of emotions ranging from sympathy, to apathy, to disgust before also making you laugh. It’s equal parts sneer as much as it is a smirk.

The Sadness (Rob Jabbaz)

This is a head and adrenaline rush. There is no way someone can see this without feeling a little a: woozy, b: uncomfortable, c: downright disgusted. I can imagine some can’t even finish this one but the boldness alone is reason enough for it to end up on this list. Viewers beware, this isn’t for a weak stomach. This film rides at a 10 the whole time, and it never lets up. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Glorious (Rebekah McKendry)

This is one of those films that really should not work as well as it does but manages to be surprisingly humor-tinged, nightmare fuel. Kudos to the cast and the disgusting locale.

The small locale with big consequences is a win for me. Glorious adheres to this idea to create an entertaining movie that writhes with thought and provocation. There’s a lot hiding between its initial grotesque and gory facade. It’s a bloody, neon-tinged nightmare that becomes one man’s reality. In all of its disturbing glory, it shouldn’t be missed.

Nope (Jordan Peele)

Nope was one of my most anticipated films of 2022, and while it didn’t hit me the way that Peele’s previous entries did, it was still inventive and a hell of a good time. It’s got science fiction, terrific performances, and some spectacular shots. Please, Mr. Peele, keep creating. Currently streaming on Peacock.

Resurrection (Andrew Semans)

We’ve gotta have at least one movie that ends with a total WTF reaction, yeah? Resurrection has that, in spades. It’s weird, it’s atmospheric and Rebecca Hall proves AGAIN, how spectacular she is. Please Academy, recognize that horror can show some amazing talent. Currently streaming on AMC+.

Resurrection isn’t perfectly done but it brings such an intensity that it’s difficult to ignore. The performances alone are electric. It’s outrageousness will either impress or disgust (maybe both) but you won’t forget it. It bewildered me some.

Smile (Parker Finn)

While Smile may feel a bit like something we’ve seen before it delivers enough thrill and kills (with some great jump scares) to keep you glued to your screen. You may think differently about asking people to smile more after this one. Currently streaming on Paramount+.

Jethica (Pete Ohs)

Jethica is such an independent horror delight that transcends what you’d expect to give you a ghost story worth hunting down. Don’t sleep on it.

Quirky, hilarious, and somehow cathartic, this movie perfects just the right amount of earnest charm. It maximizes on its dry humor while honing it’s bittersweet mentality and terrific performances, all residing within an unique ghost story. Ultimately compelling and wholly original, I loved Jethica.

Torn Hearts (Brea Grant)

Brea Grant hits the mark again with her newest horror which is just infused with gory, spunky life. It’s a female-driven, country music-filled fight to the top, and Torn Hearts is savage.

An intriguing premise set in a world that doesn’t get its due in the horror game, guided in the confident, talented hands of Brea Grant, with an especially standout and savage performance from Katey Sagal, Torn Hearts shows that the price of stardom may just be signed with blood.

The Black Phone (Scott Derrickson)

The Black Phone was one of those films that was wildly different than I expected (more of a thriller, suspense than horror) but still felt comfortable in its own skin. I got more of a Devil’s Backbone vibe, and more of a ghost story feel than Ethan Hawke as a psycho movie the trailer enticed. Still, there are some intriguing twists and turns that end up all making sense in the end. Bonus points for the child performances.

Fresh (Mimi Cave)

Sebastian Stan, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Cannibalism, comedy, horror, discomfort. Do I really need to say more? Perhaps, but just watch it and find out for yourself. Fresh deserves its place on this list earning it through ingenuity and lots of limbs.

Fresh works best when it marries the grossness factor with slick black humor, percolating to a place of truly provocative horror. The film really shows promise for Mimi Cave and I can’t wait to see what other delicacies she has in her freezer. Sorry, not sorry for the quips.

Project Wolf Hunting (Kim Hong- sun)

It’s a bloody good show, and by that I mean, it’s entirely blood-soaked. So much carnage. Project Wolf Hunting doesn’t hold back, even for a second, and it makes it an intense, relentless experience. Not currently available on streaming.

It’s full of splatters, disgusting moments, and absurdity. This film is inventive and extravagant, but nonetheless, Project Wolf Hunting is sheer bloody entertainment. A wildly engaging nightmare on the sea.

But wait, there’s more: Watcher. Two Witches, Huesara, A Family Dinner, Slapface, and many others!

Also, some didn’t see these last year, but both are worth highlighting: What Josiah Saw + Hellbender!

2022 has been an exceptional year for horror, and if you haven’t seen enough, please- search them out! There are so many talented writers and directors out there creating originally horrific content! Shudder is also a must-have for any horror fan, they’ve breathed life into the horror streaming game.

Spooktober 22, Day 5: Five of My Favorite, Creative, Jump Scares

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

Ah, the classic jump scare. When utilized correctly in the right moment of suspense, it can jolt a viewer out of their seat. However, it’s also become overused to the point where it actually detracts from the film. We want our scares to be earned, but if you have something pop out every five seconds, where’s the story, where’s the substance? It’s usually created through a symbiosis of camera and sound thrusting us into a feeling that startles and gets our heart racing. Timing is also, really, everything. So, here are some of my favorite and what I think to be some of the most memorable, jump scares:

If you haven’t seen the film I’d suggest scrolling on, wouldn’t want you to miss out on its intended scare :).

The Exorcist 3, Scissors scene

After watching this movie for the first time for my Blindspot podcast, there was one shot in particular that not only caused my stomach to leap, but also stuck with me as one of the highlights of The Exorcist 3. In a very fast shot we quickly see our perpetrator holding huge scissors walking up behind a nurse. The buildup is truly everything here as the camera doesn’t move and we watch the nurse’s station over like 40 seconds, people coming and going, doing rounds. Then, with a high shriek, this occurs and it is blood-curdling.

It Follows, Tall man

I felt I had to include at least one of the lovely ghostly jumps in the film. This one occurs when our lead’s friends arrive at the door and seemingly, nothing is behind her. Then, suddenly a very tall man walks swiftly behind her. The whole idea that someone doesn’t know something terrifying is inches from them is always alluring, but It Follows masters that.

source: RADiUS-TWC

Insidious, The Red Demon

It’s just a family chat, discussing their history and their own experiences with demons and astral travel (normal stuff) when… bam, the demon is right behind Patrick Wilson. It is one that’ll make you choke on your popcorn.

Signs, Birthday Video

One of my favorite parts of M. Night Shyamalan’s science fiction/horror films, is the clip of a birthday party on the news where an alien is witnessed. The shock and awe of that moment along with Joaquin Phoenix’s reaction, that’s epic, makes this seriously visceral. An alien in the middle of a party? Eeeeek. Jump! Run!

Sinister: Lawnmower Scene

For last year’s Spooktober I wrote about this film and its overall eerie nature, but there is one scene as Ethan Hawke‘s character watches one of the videos he’s found. We see a family through the window in the living room then it cuts to a lawnmower moving slowly over some grass at night. Until, suddenly, there’s a person on the ground before them. Not only do the visuals and sounds scare us, but Hawke jumps too.

This is tough to narrow down, but there are so many! Here are just *some* Honorable mentions: Jaws- several shark scenes, Psycho- shower scene, Basically all of The Night House, The Conjuring-Clap, The Sixth Sense- the ghost kids.

This is obviously just a drop in a large pool of film moments. What are some of your favorites?