It's a little late, but we're still in January, so it's relevant enough...so...Here are my top 10 horror movies of 2022! There are certainly going to be some controversial picks on this list (starting right at number 10), but who wants to see a list that looks exactly like everybody else's? Let's dive in.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
This...requel...(I think?) wasn't well received by many. It's sitting at a pretty 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that's just general audiences and critics. Horror patrons and, in particular, cult fans of the franchise, found this movie to be an aberration of the previous films, in particular its handling of Leatherface. Perhaps it's my ever-growing championing of courage to break away from the original works when doing remake material, or simply my lack of loyalty to the TCM franchise as a whole, but I didn't mind that this movie was a run-of-the-mill slasher, essentially. Really, when it came down to it on a superficial level, I thought TCM was fun. No more, no less. It was on its surface one of the most entertaining horror movies of the year for me. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a particularly good movie. But the beauty of horror movies is that they don't always have to be good to be "good".
Another controversial film in the remake arena, I found it similarly entertaining to TCM. I think the effects work and creativity in the cenobites, plus the willingness to refresh the narrative, was entertaining and commendable. Sure, it has plenty of flaws. The format felt much more cookie-cutter with the changes they made to the story, and the acting and writing felt subpar (but admittedly ON par with the quality of the franchise anyways). Yet, I still was engaged and entertained the whole time. And sometimes that's all I want from my horror movie.
Every year there is at least one movie that touts itself as the "next big thing" in body horror akin to the effects work in movies like The Thing, which remains unrivaled to this day. And while Hatching is still in the massive pile of wish-it-was...es...It came closer than many before it. The effects work is fun throughout, but the overall plot, while possessing a lot of soul, lacked pacing and terror. In fact, the aura of the film felt more akin to a dark fantasy tale with some gruesome moments, like Pan's Labyrinth, rather than a pure body horror romp. And that's fine, but it certainly keeps it from getting higher on the list.
It's funny...I felt like this movie deserved to be either higher than the movies below it on this list, or not on the list at all. There were some "creative differences" I had with the creators' choices in this film, but if I'm attempting to look at it objectively, I found Matriarch to easily be one of the best horror movies of the year. The acting is fantastic and there are some gruesome body horror bits sprinkled throughout to keep one engaged, but it inevitably led to a final act that left me wanting after the teases we got throughout. I can't help but taste that lingering disappointment at a handful of choices, but I also can't deny the power the film holds either.
Before this year, Hulu seemed to be more miss than hit on its original horror entries, but this year it's featuring FOUR hits in the top 10. I did not see that coming. It was so unexpected for me that I almost didn't bother to see Fresh at all because the premise sounded like another dull INTO THE DARK entry. But after a lot of positive word-of-mouth I decided to check it out, and I was so glad I did. The two leads are amazing, and they carry a relatively mild first two acts (visually speaking), helping to build the tension and intrigue into a wild and mayhem-saturated final act. I highly recommend giving this one a shot.
Didn't I say four Hulu entries? Yeah, this one is probably going to be another controversial entry, particularly with how high I have it on the list, but I feel like it was such a good addition to the franchise. I am a massive fan of Alien and Predator, so you've already got my viewership committed in the "rumors of production" process of filmmaking. But that doesn't mean I can't be disappointed. Prometheus and Covenant are jumbled messes in the story department, AVP should have been R, but it's sequel proved that doesn't magically fix problems, and The Predator was almost unbearable in its illogical writing, compliments of the actually very talented Shane Black (which makes it all-the-more of a letdown). So...considering all the recent failure...Prey was even more of a pleasant surprise. What felt like another cheap cash grab from a streaming service turned out to be a creative and entertaining entry into the Predator mythos. The style changes to the predator are noteworthy, in particular the bone-like and "relatively ancient" aesthetic to its armor and equipment. I think it was a great idea, too. It's probably a smart cornerstone for all future Predator movies. Why not just Assassin's Creed the franchise and just showcase the Predator in a different time period each time? I'd watch!
Yet ANOTHER controversial entry on my list, but I just had to include this one...The political subject matter that permeates this film, particularly in the first act, will leave a bad taste in the mouths of those that are sensitive to such topics. A rather ignorant and apathetic person in the political arena myself, I was able to dismiss it easily as shocky satire and enjoy the rest of the movie without much pause. Some may not be able to do that, and that's perfectly understandable and this movie may not be for you! But, for me, this movie was a blast and one of the best found footage movies in years. One thing I have regularly agreed with others on who have also in enjoyed this movie is that the pacing and incline in intensity is sooooo good. It's starts off slow and, frankly, annoying...then you get the first bit of weird. Then the first scare. Then the next wild moment. Then mayhem. Then chaos. Then outright insanity. The movie escalates so well and meets the challenge of its own one-upsman-ship like so few movies do.
I heard someone describe this movie as Tremors in the sky, and I think that nails it on the head. And considering that Tremors is an all-time favorite for me, it makes perfect sense that Nope would be up there on my list. I will say that, like Tremors, Nope has a lighter tone than one would see in most horror movies without being a "horror comedy". The movie fits well into Efrit and I's category of "adventure horror", which tends to have that lighter tone, a little extra humor, and the stakes never feel too high for our main characters. There is still horror to go around, but in this case it is outweighed by the antics of the townsfolk and the two lead siblings, as well as its standard scifi elements. But I think it is such a fun movie in the way the story unravels and the lovable nature of its leads that I had to put it high on my list.
This period piece horror movie takes place in 19th century France and provides some of the best "slightly off alternate" world building a horror movie can muster. The story has breadth and depth in its characters and its socially-charged plot that tackles issues in a way that mixes reality with the supernatural. The twist to the primary horror trope is executed through some clever camera work and editing, as well as some great body horror and decent effects. The film is well constructed from top to bottom and is easily one of the most recommendable movies of 2022 for horror fans. You should see this one and go in as blind as possible. There aren't any mind-blowing twists, I don't mean to set that expectation, but letting the story unfold with as much purity as possible will make this movie even better.
It's rare, if impossible, to go a year without the "perfect" horror movie. And this year, that movie is Barbarian for me. I loved this movie. It's unpredictable, frightening, engaging, funny, well-paced, well-acted, cleverly written, uniquely edited, and full of gruesome horror moments. And, as any reader may recall...it has good rewatchability, which is an important feature in movies for me. I loved watching this movie the first time, and I loved rewatching it with others for their first experience. A popular film for the year, it would have been hard to avoid for many horror fans, but if you still haven't seen it, go in as blind as possible and just enjoy the ride. It's a crazy one.