Well, it’s a new year, and that means it’s time for me to release my 20 Favorite Horror Movies of 2022. That’s right, twenty! I usually only do my top ten, but this year was so strong, I decided I needed to double the number. If you’ve been listening to the Cinescare Horror Podcast, which you totally should, you’ll know just how incredible a year this was for horror movies. Check out our 2022 Top 10 episode HERE, available January 6th, to hear favorites from Joe, Marc, and Jimmy-o. The other hosts and I each give our ten favorite horror movies of the year. It’s a terrific episode with some fantastic recommendations for you.
My list includes a wide variety of horror films, from mainstream crowd-pleasers, to indie slow burn art house, from bloodless creep shows, to some of the most extreme horror in recent memory. There’s something here for every kind of horror fan.
So, without further ado, let’s get into my personal top 20 horror movies of 2022.
20. The Black Phone
That The Black Phone wound up this far down the list says more about the depth of quality horror this year than it does about the film itself. Any other year? It’s top 5-10, easy. This film had some of the most genuinely creepy moments of the entire year. Though I felt that the narrative wasn’t completely cohesive overall, there’s enough good stuff here to place it in the top five on many people’s lists. On Amazon Prime.
19. The Menu
I’m not 100% certain The Menu fits snuggly in horror—it’s a mix of a lot of stuff—but there’s enough going on in this delicious tale to justify the genre tag. Terrific performances and exquisite direction. Borderline good to great. Feels like it sags under the weight of its own premise now and then, but still there’s plenty to love, especially for the foodies out there. I left the theater really wanting a good cheese burger… On HBO Max.
Very well executed stalker horror that looks fantastic. Though the story suffers slightly from predictability, Chloe Okuno’s direction builds tension thick enough to make up for any trivial flaws. Maika Monroe is wonderful as the lead. Watcher is an exciting viewing for a stormy winter night. On Shudder.
17. Mad God
Pure nightmare fuel, and maybe the work of a genius. Can’t say I liked it, but I sure appreciate the artistry involved and the thirty-year effort put into this labor of love. For now, I set Mad God at number 17, though it might be a masterpiece—only time will tell. I can say decisively that this 84 minute stop-motion animated orgy of the grotesque is not for everyone. On Shudder.
Fantastic performances by Roth and Hall, the latter of whom is quickly becoming my favorite actress. I won’t say too much about it, because it’s best to go into this one blind. But Resurrection holds a revelation that is simply one of the creepiest ideas of the entire year. This is a bleak and harrowing watch with a bonkers final act that will leave you with mouth agape. For Rent on various services.
From Senegal, Saloum is a tight little thriller. I think there are some third act issues, even though I did quite enjoy the sudden shift in tone. I would have liked it if the transition had been a bit more seemless, which is about all I can say without giving away too much. That’s a relatively small quibble for a movie I appreciated a lot. It’s a superb, handsomely shot, action/horror. Check it out! On Shudder.
Fresh is a solid combo of serial killer and body horror, with several twists and turns that ratchet up the suspense to almost unbearable levels. There’s also a darkly comedic side to all of it that balances the squeamish parts. Sebastian Stan is shockingly believable with Daisy Edgar-Jones centering the twists and turns with a performance grounded in terror. On Hulu.
This is one that you’ll see way higher on many lists this year, and with good reason. Smile is a spiritual sibling to It Follows, though slightly less effective and a bit too reliant on gags and jump scares. Still, this is a strong horror movie in a year full of them, with a great performance by Sosie Bacon. For rent on various services.
Mia Goth is fantastic. And the best end credits you’ll see. Two Ty West movies in the same year? Pure and glorious insanity! For rent on various services.
From Spain, Piggy is an ingenious subversion of the revenge flick with heavy tension throughout. Laura Galan is transcendent in the lead role and director Carlotta Pereda announces herself as a director to watch. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think this was French extreme. Only a mildly disappointing ending kept it out of my top five. For rent on various services.
A ridiculous blast, with some legit jump scares and admirable effects. I liked this more than I was expecting to, especially after the first act. Combines horror comedy with some genuine scares in a decidedly Raimi-esque way. Your enjoyment of this film will depend on your ability to handle the (intentionally) annoying lead character. If you can find the satire in Joseph Winter’s performance, you’ll come way in love with this little micro-budget gem. On Shudder.
9. The Sadness
There were a few scenes in this Taiwanese thriller that I had never seen before in a movie, with a lot of blood and practical gore to boot. The Sadness is very extreme stuff, and NOT for the faint of heart. Ultimately, it’s another southeast Asian virus horror, dressed up with ultra violence and more than a little depravity. However, there is a dark comedy undercurrent pulsing just below the skin of this film, which makes some of its most brutal moments slightly more palatable. I’m rarely surprised anymore, but this one had me with raised eyebrows more than once. Take the trigger warnings seriously! On Shudder.
8. A Wounded Fawn
Weird and wonderful. Races gloriously off the rails in the third act, but ends delightfully. A Wounded Fawn plays out like a Lynchian version of Fresh. This year had several girl-gets-kidnapped-by-a-charming-predator type films, but this one sits far above the rest. On Shudder.
7. The Innocents
The user ratings for this Norwegian movie are all over the place on Letterboxd. Usually, that means it’s a very slow burn or very disturbing. The Innocents is a bit of both, but not completely either. Some of the most believable child dialogue I’ve seen in a long time and fantastic performances, taking the killer kids subgenre and turning all of its tropes on their heads. If you can handle one or two of the more difficult scenes—especially one involving a cat—you’re in for a genuinely cathartic treat. On Shudder.
Out of nowhere, this film took the horror world by storm. Barbarian is an artistically crafted spook show with a few of the most exciting and unexpected narrative shifts in recent memory. By the time Justin Long enters the picture, you’re wondering just what you’ve gotten yourself into. This is one of the best horror experiences of the entire year, and will doubtless go down as a classic of the genre. I’m positive it will be number 1 on many lists. On HBO Max.
5. Christmas Bloody Christmas
Pure joy of indie filmmaking! Your own enjoyment will depend whether you find the central couple charming or annoying. For me, it was the former, as I smiled throughout the opening act at these two twenty-something’s bantering back and forth, their pent-up sexual tension barely kept at bay. They’re the irritating couple at the bar, flirting and teasing their way through the night with sophomoric conversation. We’ve all seen these people! The entire opening sequence rang completely true for me, which enhanced the stakes once the killer Santa-bot picked up his axe. And once the action kicks in, it’s a bloodbath of pure horror goodness from then on. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve seen this one three times in the past month and I can already see Christmas Bloody Christmas becoming a brutal holiday tradition. On Shudder.
4. Bones and All
It’s like Badlands meets Raw. The first act’s slumber party scene is beautiful until it takes a shocking turn, driving the action of the rest of the film. One of the best movies of the year of any genre, with a revelatory performance by Taylor Russell as a teenage girl coming to terms with not only her impending adulthood, but her own inherited cannibalism as well. You can’t take your eyes off her heartbreaking work. You’ll also find an elegantly understated turn from Timothee Chalamet. Mark Rylance plays one of the creepiest villains of the year, and Michael Stuhlbarg and David friggin’ Gordon Green give two fabulously quirky cameos. Bones and All is, in turns, lovely, repulsive, and truly unforgettable. It’s probably the best cannibal film I’ve ever seen. For rent on various services.
3. Terrifier 2
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, but Terrifier 2 improved on the original in almost every way, especially in giving us one of the best final girls in recent memory. The practical effects are stunning and Art the Clown is thoroughly sadistic. He’s heading toward icon status. This time we actually had characters we cared about and a real story, along with practical gore and danger that often seem missing from slashers these days. With some shrewd editing, this thing would be damn near perfect. However, make no mistake, this is extreme horror with scenes of disturbing brutality, loads of graphic gore, and over-the-top violence—in other words, this movie is NOT for the squeamish. You’ve been warned! But if you’re into the wild side of horror, you’re in for a good time. On Screambox or for rent on various services.
The best film in the franchise and it’s not even close—astonishing for an entry this deep into the series. The cinematography is masterpiece level and the performances are perfect, especially Amber Midthunder who dominates the screen with a quiet intensity most action stars would die for. Prey was possibly the most fun I had watching a movie this year. This is 90s-style action/horror of the highest order. Instant classic! On Hulu.
In my book, A24 can do no wrong—and Ti West is at the top of his game. A terrific thriller with a great cast, good script, and top-notch filmmaking. This is a movie that’s unafraid to take big swings and hits every one of them out of the park. Though it starts out looking like a typical throw-back, Texas Chainsaw-style slasher, X has way more up its sleeves. Hands down my favorite horror movie of 2022 and one of the best in the past decade. On Showtime.
In a year so full of great horror movies, I can’t leave it at that. Here are a few more good ones to check out, if you haven’t.
Halloween Ends—unfairly maligned. A strange but admirable wrap-up to the Laurie Strode story.
Satan’s Slaves 2—a beautifully creepy sequel to 2018’s Indonesian ghost story.
Hellraiser, Scream, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre—three very entertaining reboots/requels.
Wednesday—feels like the most fun Tim Burton has had in a long time.
Yellowjackets—excellent! Get caught up with the first season ASAP. Season 2 is coming soon!
The Last House
It’s been a fun time the past few months, with The Last House gaining a #1 New Release tag on Amazon. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? I think it’s my best work yet, and a quick read. Perfect for the winter evenings. And PLEASE go on Amazon to rate it when you’re done!