Let’s cut — and stab, and chop — to the chase: 2022 was a particularly solid year for horror.
You had a lot of variety, with highbrow Euro-shock films and auteur-driven A24 projects bumping up against big-budget monster movies and scrappy indies. You had your success stories, à la Universal’s The Black Phone becoming a summer sleeper hit; your unlikely success stories, in which an old-fashioned word-of-mouth campaign helped propel Barbarian into a crossover smash; and your even unlikelier success stories, like the extremely micro-budget Terrifier 2 racking up an $11.5 million haul to date. (It’s hard to figure out what’s the most outrageous aspect of this story: that this mondo DIY horror film made such a huge return on its $250K budget, that the killer-clown flick’s running time is a whopping 138 minutes, or that the original Terrifier got a sequel at all.) You had horror-movie elements working their way into everything from animated films to superhero blockbusters — really, what is Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness if not an Evil Dead movie that happened to end up in the MCU? And you had familiar faces return from the genre’s past, even if the year proved that not all franchise reboots are created equal. (The best thing about Halloween Ends is its titular promise.)
These were the 10 horror movies that caused us to lose sleep in 2022, that jolted us out of comfort zones, that made us scream in the dark next to our fellow audience members, and that reminded us how potent the genre can be.
(A few quick shout-outs to some of the year’s other scary stand-outs: Dashcam, Flux Gourmet, Fresh, The Innocents, Mad God, The Menu, Smile, and A Wounded Fawn. And while we hesitate to “recommend” something as gnarly and unpleasant as The Sadness, the South Korean zombie movie that made even jaded horror fans blanch, we have to acknowledge that it does exactly what it sets out to do. Proceed with extreme caution in regard to that one.)