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The Best Horror Movies Of 2022

In terms of horror cinema, 2022 has been one of the most memorable and interesting years for quite a while. We have seen the release of all kinds of horror films, from big budget flicks to tiny arthouse releases, many of which have vividly captured our deepest fears and put them up on the big screen. Though a few of our picks were practically impossible to miss after their release, we're willing to bet at least a few of them have slipped by even the most horror-obsessed fans out there.

Below, we'll be looking back at some of the best horror movies to be released in 2022. So curl up under a blanket and turn the lights off (or keep them all on), and get ready for a spooky time. Whether you're afraid of supernatural horrors, mask-wearing maniacs, or extreme body horror, there's something here for everyone looking for fresh material for their nightmares.

Nope

While he rose to prominence as half of the comedy duo "Key and Peele," Jordan Peele has since made a total 180 with his career and gone on to direct some of the most popular horror movies of our time. Following up his modern classics "Get Out" and "Us" is Peele's most recent project, "Nope," which delves into an equally absurd premise of science fiction and horror. At least it certainly has all the hallmarks of a science fiction story, when a mysterious flying object appears over a rural California horse ranch, much to the amazement of the owners, siblings OJ and Em Haywood (Daniel Kaluya and Keke Palmer). 

Though the UFO first appears to the Haywood ranchers over a remote stretch of California desert, they are far from the only people enthralled by the extraterrestrial arrival. Just about everyone with the means to do so tries to cash in on the spectacle, with unexpected consequences for those who venture too close. Fans of Peele's previous films can expect much of the same wit that his works have become known for, capped off with a truly unsettling premise about mankind's relation to nature itself.

The Black Phone

Hitting theaters in the summer of 2022, "The Black Phone" is one of the higher grossing picks on our list, and with good reason. Set in the neighborhoods of suburban Denver during the late '70s, a child abducting menace known only as "The Grabber" (Ethan Hawke) has eluded all attempts by law enforcement to bring him to justice. When 13-year-old Finney Blake (Mason Thames) wakes up in an austere basement, it seems he's doomed to become just the latest victim of a long string of child disappearances at the hands of the infamous kidnapper. When a corded telephone that his captor claims to be broken starts to ring, however, it seems that Finney has been given the slimmest of chances to avoid a grisly fate.

A tried and true premise with an original twist makes "The Black Phone" just about everything you could want out of a fun summertime tale of horror. It's full of well-earned scares, and there's plenty of tension that gradually builds to cloak this future classic in a chilling sense of unease throughout its runtime.

X

Sometimes all you're in the mood for is a blood-spattered horror flick that's light on plot and heavy on gruesome kills, and there's nothing wrong with that. Set during the late '70s, "X" is something of a tribute to the bygone era of classic slashers like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and similarly gruesome titles. Following a group of young adults in rural Texas hoping to create an adult film, they've got everything they need to bring the illicit production to life besides a location. When the gang happens across a picturesque farm owned by elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (Mia Goth in a dual performance), however, it looks like the final ingredient for their amateur film has finally fallen into place.

Of course, this one's rated R, not X, which means you'd be right to assume somewhere along the way just about every one of our protagonists will find themselves in a pool of their own blood. Even though it's less interested in delving into the deeper themes that a few of our other picks explore, overwhelmingly positive reception means that "X" marks the spot for horror fans looking for one of the best slashers in recent memory.

Hellbender

Receiving a limited release in mid-2021 followed by an official release on Shudder in early 2022, "Hellbender" is something special for many reasons, not the least of which is the filmmaking family production team behind it.

Set in a remote home deep in the woods, teenage Izzy (Zelda Adams) lives with her family and is removed from almost every facet of civilization. At first glance, the reason for the family's self-imposed isolation seems to be nothing more than the product of a down-to-earth and at times eccentric lifestyle. However when circumstances cause Izzy to gradually come into contact with those outside of her family, much to the dismay of her mother, the true reason for their way of life is slowly revealed.

Seasoned horror fans would be forgiven for wondering if this one is just a low-budget rehash of everything we've seen unfold in films like "The Witch." Instead of retreading the same ideas that you might expect though, "Hellbender" is first and foremost a coming-of-age story that's packed with modern-day witchcraft and the occult. Trust us when we say this is one worth giving a try. 

Hatching

Arguably one of the more surreal releases of the year, "Hatching" is a Finnish horror film that will likely make even those with the strongest stomachs feel squeamish. After a crow is brutally attacked by a family, their daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) takes pity on the dying animal and retrieves its egg to hatch herself. Unexpectedly, the egg grows far beyond its expected size, ultimately hatching into a grotesque birdlike creature wholly dependent on Tinja's care for survival. This unlikely parental bond isn't the only connection that Tinja shares with the creature, now named Alli, as a much deeper psychic link between them threatens to distort her life beyond recognition.

The combination of body horror nightmare and coming-of-age story on display in "Hatching" is one that only gets weirder by the minute. Despite tepid reception from audiences, critics were overwhelmingly supportive of the ambitious film, which is as upfront with its disturbing premise as it is with its artistic visuals. This was also the directorial debut for Finnish director Hanna Bergholm, and it hopefully marks the start of a long and equally bizarre filmography.

Men

Though his filmography as a director has been brief so far, Alex Garland has built a reputation from projects that often blur the line between science fiction and horror. With labyrinthine plots and ambiguous, confusing endings, "Annihilation" and "Ex Machina" succeeded in making audiences feel deeply unsettled. His most recent film "Men," doesn't stray quite as far into the realm of science fiction as his previous films, but it remains a unique piece of horror cinema, and still manages to be pure nightmare fuel. 

After the tragic passing of her husband, Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) finds herself still reeling from the incident during a trip to a remote English village. The situation soon devolves into the paranormal for the grief-stricken Marlowe, however, when she notices a disturbing trend among the village's residents. See, it's already odd enough that she's the only lady in the entire town, but it soon becomes clear that there's also only one man. That is, only one man's face, since everyone in the village, young and old, bears the likeness of a man named Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear playing numerous roles). Her experience in the mysterious village only gets stranger from there, culminating in a bizarre and twisted ending that is a fitting conclusion for a story focusing on grief, gender, and a whole lot more.

Master

There's something evil brewing at a prestigious New England college, and it's not just crippling student loan debt. Set on the grounds of the fictional Ancaster university, "Master" is a film that balances its scares with some real-world messages. The story revolves around three women who find themselves at the elite school for different reasons. There's new student Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), English professor Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), and newly appointed master of the college Gail Bishop (Regina Hall). Separate from each other, the three women slowly piece together the truth behind alleged hauntings that have been plaguing the campus for years, even as their investigations threaten their lives.

With a unique setting and impactful commentary on the unfortunately complicated relations between race and higher education, "Master" might be one of the more underrated releases of the year. The enduring question of what's truly going on at the university manages to linger all the way to the end, all while forever changing the lives of everyone it touches.

Flux Gourmet

No one said horror couldn't be funny. Some classics like the "Evil Dead" series balanced their blood-soaked gore with plenty of gags, and others like "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" dialed the comedy all the way up to 11. Getting a muted release in early 2022, "Flux Gourmet" isn't quite like any of those genre-blending horror comedies we mentioned, with the end result being something wholly unlike anything we've seen before.

The film's absurd premise surrounds a group of artists who are a bit unhinged, to say the least, and an amateur reporter assigned to document their creative process. The way in which our produce-powered performance artists go about creating their latest masterpiece is through a method called "sonic catering" — a process that entails harvesting unique and disturbing sounds from food. Like we said, this one's pretty out there. As the plot progresses it takes its already surreal premise and runs with it, devolving into something that's hard to definitively pin down to any one film genre. Filled with bizarre sex scenes, potty humor, gore, and just about everything else you can imagine, "Flux Gourmet" will make you both laugh and squirm in your seat.

Crimes of the Future

Perhaps best known for his 1986 classic "The Fly," David Cronenberg has since emerged as one of the premiere directors for horror buffs. Continually crafting films that challenge audiences' tolerance for the grotesque, he frequently calls upon the themes of sci-fi and body horror to bring his twisted stories to life.

While fans of Cronenberg's filmography may be aware that this film shares a title with one of his earliest works, the similarities between the two end there. Instead, "Crimes of the Future" spins an original tale of a dystopian future in which the planet has been ravaged by unchecked technological advancement. The price for such rapid progress has proven to be very high indeed, with the whole of humanity mutating along with the world around it. Some characteristics of what it means to be alive, such as feeling pain, have since been entirely lost to time, with new and disturbing trends becoming popular in the absence of such basic instincts.

There's so much more to unpack in this pessimistic imagining of the future, such as a shady government plot to suppress humanity's deepest secrets and a radical underground society trying to bring them to light. It may be a bit indulgent at times with all its gory excesses, but in the end, that's why we keep coming back to Cronenberg's films. Besides, "Crimes of the Future" never gets too carried away with itself, and Cronenberg never loses sight of the deeper message being told behind the film's madness.

Scream

After three sequels of varying quality and a decade-long hiatus, the fifth installment in the "Scream" series of films was a much-needed return to form for the franchise. Revisiting the infamous town of Woodsboro, a group of high school students is once again terrorized by the return of Ghostface as he cuts and slashes his way through the community. Sure, it's not all that original, but you can always count on "Scream" to be self-aware and packed with enough horror movie satire to be forgiven for its clichés.

Whether you've faithfully watched every "Scream" sequel since the original or understandably given up somewhere along the way, the latest entry is one to reconsider if you brushed it off at first. With a year that's shaping up to be one of the most varied in a while for horror concepts, "Scream" is a tried and true recipe that still works.

You Won't Be Alone

"You Won't Be Alone" is both a visually stunning horror movie and a dark fairy tale firmly intended for an adult crowd. Set in 19th century Europe, this is one of the few period pieces on our list, chronicling the life and struggle of a young girl and her lifelong battle with an evil witch named Maria (Anamaria Marinca) that terrorizes her village. There are no lengthy battle sequences or quippy one-liners though, as this one is as much about our protagonist trying to understand what's left of her humanity as it is her struggle against the witch that took it away from her.

The film opens with Maria's terrifying visit to the home of a newborn baby named Nevana (Sara Klimoska). Initially intent on stealing the child for herself and converting her into a witch, a desperate bargain by Nevana's mother only prolongs the inevitable and robs her daughter of her voice. Sixteen years later, Maria returns to collect on the debt and sends the now teenaged Nevana down the path her mother tried to avoid.

We won't delve too much deeper into what goes on in this one, as "You Won't Be Alone" is best enjoyed by experiencing the many twists and turns that Nevana's life takes along with her. That said, incredibly positive critical reception makes this a must-watch, and one of our favorite horror films of the year. Just don't go into this one expecting any cheap horror scares, and brace yourself for a far more artistic slow burn, that tips the scale just a bit in favor of style over substance at times.

Speak No Evil

It's hard for most of us to imagine anything more horrifying than an awkward social situation, which are the exact circumstances our protagonists find themselves trapped in during this Danish horror film. After a Danish family on vacation becomes acquainted with a similarly friendly Dutch family, they're invited to visit them sometime. Unbeknownst to them, what should be just an uncomfortable dinner date devolves into a living nightmare at the hands of their hosts.

Though it didn't quite garner the same level of attention as some of our other picks, "Speak No Evil" has still emerged as one of the most memorable horror pictures of the year. We'd call it a favorite, but this one winds up going down a path so dark we're not quite sure how high it ranks on the rewatchability scale. It's not just us who found our stomachs in a knot by the time this one came to its unexpected ending either. In their review for IndieWire, Susannah Gruder stated that: "I'll leave audiences with a warning ... 'Speak No Evil' is the most cunningly depraved horror film in years, offering a piercing commentary on the ways we accommodate others to the point of self-subjugation." Hey, at least we warned you.

Watcher

We've all been there: Closing the curtains at night in the hope of keeping the unknown from peering in at us from outside. Playing off of that common fear is the film "Watcher," which ups the terror by turning the unknown into a reality, and having it unflinchingly stare back at our protagonist.

After relocating from the United States to the streets of Bucharest with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman), Julia (Maika Monroe) is doing her best to settle into their shared apartment. Without any knowledge of the native language of Romanian, though, Julia is finding it hard to grow accustomed to her new way of life. To make the situation even more uncomfortable, she notices a stranger constantly watching her from the window of a neighboring apartment across the street. Though Francis is rightfully concerned with Julia's well-being, he's more aloof than she is about the potential voyeur and dismisses her fears as paranoia. This sets off a terrifying mind game Julia finds herself trapped in with her neighbor, as she becomes increasingly anxious about what, if anything, he might do next.

With its barebones premise, "Watcher" might just be the most realistic pick on our list. The gripping horror thriller will leave you asking the same questions as Julia throughout its runtime, and wondering whether or not something truly is going on all the way to the end.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

After almost two decades, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into one of the most ubiquitous, iconic film series of all time. However, while the groundwork for the film universe we've come to know and love was established with a tried and tested formula, Marvel has realized that the titles that buck the trend and try something new are often the most loved by fans. Quirky entries like "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" went against convention and proved that thinking outside the box is just what was needed to keep superhero films from getting stale.

In perhaps one of their riskiest ventures to date, Marvel decided to add to the relatively niche genre of horror inspired superhero flicks with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" a terrifying romp through alternate realities. After a teenage girl (Xochitl Gomez) with the power to unwittingly travel through the multiverse winds up in our own universe, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) begins a quest to fully understand her powers. What the former Sorcerer Supreme doesn't realize, though, is that the person he believed to be an old friend might just be the worst person to reveal the newcomer's powers to. With enough horror elements and multiverse hijinks to satisfy any fan, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding MCU.

The House

Fans of stop motion animation should have cause to celebrate after seeing this one make our list. This absolute tour-de-force for the visual medium might have slipped under the radar for some thanks to its direct-to-Netflix release, which is a shame given its incredible storytelling. Told in three distinct segments, "The House" is a totally different take on the horror genre unlike anything we've covered, and one that chronicles the history of the same house across three generations.

"The House" begins as many cautionary tales do, with a family not quite content with what they have in life. After being rebuked by their more affluent family members, the father of the family stumbles off in a drunken rage one night only to be given the opportunity of a lifetime to turn his family's lives around. After promising to give up almost everything they have, the family is allowed to live in a lavish mansion atop a hill with every desire they could wish for fulfilled. Their newfound fortune comes with a catch, however, and one that only the family's daughter Mabel (Mia Goth) seems able to overcome.

If you grew up hiding under the blankets in fear of the Other Mother's demented world in the now beloved "Coraline," this one will play on many of the same fears thanks to its haunting setting and similar themes of unchecked greed. Despite its beginning segment being undeniably terrifying, however, "The House" gradually evolves into something else entirely as its titular setting grows and decays over the years.