2022 has been one of the best in memory for horror cinema. From offerings from major studios to smaller independents, from silent and subtle exercises to all-out gorefests, there was high quality throughout the fear scene.
Narrowing down a top ten (with the criterion that they received a UK theatrical or streaming release in 2022) was a challenge – and is, of course, entirely subjective; there are probably a dozen movies that could tie for 11th place.
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But anyone looking for a strong, punchy scare or a good tingling thrill will find plenty of them among these movies – listed alphabetically.
all the moons
In a just world, Spanish filmmaker Igor Legarreta’s variation on vampire themes would now have attracted a rep similar to Let The Right One In. Rescued from a mortal wound during a war in the late 19th century, a young daughter (Haizea Carneros, a revelation) faces a future in which she must subsist on blood and does not age.
Over time in this beautifully filmed odyssey, she is exposed to both the best and darkest sides of human nature. This went to Shudder after the festival play, and while it begs to be seen on the big screen, its emotional impact shows through in any medium.
All moons are streamed on Shudder.
Sorry, Jordan Peele: The best horror feature of the year directed by a sketch comedy veteran was this special from Zach Cregger of The Whitest Kids U’ Know. It begins with an update on haunted house standards for the Airbnb generation, as Tess (Georgina Campbell) discovers her rental is already occupied by a guy (IT guy Bill Skarsgård) who may or may not be worthy of trust.
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And then… well, it would be unfair, even now, to reveal what happens next, other than to say that it goes to some truly scary and still surprising places.
Barbarian airs on Disney+ from December 14.
The black phone
Sinister writer/director Scott Derrickson, co-writer C. Robert Cargill and star Ethan Hawke return to the suburbs with a horrific corruption simmering beneath its surface, making Hawke the evildoer this time. Adapting Joe Hill’s short story, this team introduces us to young siblings Finney and Gwen (both excellent Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw), whose 1978 suburban world feels lived-in and real.
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It makes the perils they face, courtesy of Hawke’s twisted kidnapper The Grabber, all the more impactful, and The Black Phone is less a rock-’em-shock-’em show and more an ever-tense tale of survival. in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. .
The Black Phone is streaming on PVOD.
Body Body Body
A very current twist on slasher movie tropes, which manages the not insignificant trick of keeping you engaged with a group of potential victims you’d never want to hang out with in real life.
The wildly satirical script from director Halina Reijn and screenwriter Sarah DeLappe locks down a group of social media vultures in a secluded mansion, where a ‘hurricane party’ becomes a life-or-death struggle that backfires enemies against each other as body body body count mounts. Vivid characterizations and delightfully offensive dialogue make for a scathing and surprising good time.
Bodies Bodies Bodies is streaming on PVOD.
master of hell
The core team of filmmakers known as the Adams family – Toby Poser, John Adams and their daughter Zelda Adams – continue their rise to mainstream with this rural saga of witchcraft and domestic turmoil.
Poser and Zelda Adams play backwoods dwellers Mother and her teenage daughter Izzy, whose relationship is tested when the latter wants to see more of the world than the former allows – and begins to demonstrate the same supernatural talents than his mother. It’s a truly sinister fairy tale (available on Shudder) that knows mother/daughter tensions as well as it’s good at scaring us.
Hellbender streams on Shudder.
The best of 2022’s horror crop can be seen as both a new high point for scary kids’ cinema and an extremely dark take on the X-Men superhero origin story. In a Norwegian apartment complex, some of the local children discover that they have psychic abilities. the problem is that they are not mature enough to deal with the ramifications or, in some cases, to resist the temptation to do harm with these powers.
Writer/director Eskil Vogt (Academy Award nominee for co-writing Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person In The World) creates a deeply chilling chronicle of teenagers forced to make moral choices they are unprepared for and face gifts potentially deadly which they are ill-equipped to handle.
The Innocents are streaming on Viaplay and PVOD.
Rebecca Hall, horror star? Well, it’s impossible to think of an actor who has delivered two more galvanizing recent genre twists than Hall in last year’s The Night House and then Andrew Semans’ harrowing psychological nightmare.
Here she plays Margaret, a pharmaceutical executive who is in complete control of her life – until her existence is invaded by an old acquaintance (Tim Roth) with whom she obviously shares a truly evil history. He doesn’t do anything overtly threatening, but his mere presence is enough to send Margaret on a downward spiral that’s captivatingly executed and impossible to look away from.
Resurrection is now available on PVOD.
Speak no evil
Another study in largely passive evil, Danish director Christian Tafdrup’s film (scripted with his brother Mads and another standout Shudder title) is a slow burn that eventually burns itself into your psyche. A married couple and their daughter accept an invitation to visit the home of another family they met on vacation; after their arrival, their hosts sometimes behave in an awkward, even vaguely threatening way… but they wouldn’t want to pass for ungrateful guests, would they?
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The pay of politeness proves heartbreaking indeed in a film that expertly plays on our expectations of how all of its characters will behave.
Speak No Evil is streaming on Shudder.
Many films shoot in Eastern Europe for financial reasons, but Chloe Okuno’s feature debut takes full advantage of its Bucharest setting to spark unease among foreigners in a strange land. As a woman whose husband’s new job has forced her to move to an unfamiliar town, It Follows’ Maika Monroe is harassed again – or is she just paranoid and overreacting to her new surroundings?
This question, Monroe’s performance, and Okuno’s considerable directing gifts generate nervous tension.
Watcher is coming to PVOD soon.
After several years in the television wilderness, Ti West (House of the Devil) has returned to feature films with another homage to ’70s horror that also explores its kinship with adult cinema. When a group of budding pornsters move into the property of an older Texas couple, they find themselves subjected to penetrations they never expected, and West finds plenty of ways to explore real sex. and real while shocking us hard at the same time.
It’s highlighted by a memorable double performance from Mia Goth – and wait until you see the writer/director and prequel star Pearl, in UK cinemas early 23.
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