Best Horror Movies Of 2022 So Far

We’ve reached the midway point of 2022 — ok, a little after — with some of the year’s biggest releases already behind us. There’s plenty to look forward to as movie fans enter the thick of summer blockbuster season, but lots that you might have missed with so many new releases in theaters and on streaming platforms these days. Horror fans have been rewarded with some terrifying and tremendous titles in the last six months, from franchise sequels to ambitious indies. We’re here to help highlight some of the best of the best scary movies you might tell Ghostface about someday if he gives you a call.

Don’t worry. These have all been released and are publicly available either theatrically or digitally. So, if something sounds interesting, seek it out as quickly as you’d like!

Best Horror Movies So Far In 2022

10. Studio 666

“Studio 666 features fun performances by the Foo Fighters, but its “kitchen sink” approach leaves it open to unfavorable comparisons to the movies to which it pays homage,” reads IGN’s official review. It’s a more than fair critique, especially at the film’s excessive length, but my adoration of the Foo Fighters themselves helps elevate this wacky musical midnighter. Dave Grohl gets to become a demon and hunt his bandmates as they conceptualize a song that could spell apocalyptic doom — it’s everything a metalhead horror fan could imagine. Including cameos from Kerry King to Will Forte to Lionel Richie.

Of course, there’s a newfound somberness to Studio 666 since the unexpected passing of beloved drummer Taylor Hawkins not long after the film’s release. Perhaps Studio 666 can serve as a testament to the love between Foo Fighters members because you can tell Grohl and his cohorts are having an absolute blast. There’s so much horror genre appreciation baked into corpse-shredding practical effects and nods to the classics, all while the Foos yuck it up while getting demon-deadly and yucky. For all its blemishes and shortcomings, it’s still one rockin’ midnighter romp.

9. The Sadness

“The Sadness is one of the ickiest, most sadistic outbursts of unbridled horror aggression I’ve beheld in a spell,” I wrote elsewhere in a review for Shudder’s most delinquent release of the year. It’s a blend of 28 Days Later and The Purge, as infected Chinese citizens start savagely attacking everyone everywhere all at once. Even worse, these infected monstrosities act on heightened immorality levels, explicitly sexual and violent. There are acts in The Sadness that will cause even more veteran gorehounds to cringe in what’s easily the meanest horror flick of 2022.

Intensity and sadism mock civil obedience as bodies are flayed, deep fried, and defiled. There’s a trigger warning that those with weaker stomachs about inappropriate acts of perverse bloodlust should consider because The Sadness refuses to back down even when our heads begin to shake in disbelief. A blend of practical and digital effects eviscerate characters as hordes of inhuman berzerkers act out brazenly brutal attacks with whatever weapons are available. A primal fear at the center of The Sadness questions what humanity would be like without moral guards. It’ll be too much for some, and that’s wholly understandable — The Sadness is the kind of midnighter you can’t recommend to everyone but demands an after-dark audience.

8. Offseason

Mickey Keating’s Offseason — available on Shudder — is the filmmaker’s ode to coastal Lovecraftian horror with essences of soggy thrillers like The Fog. Think along the lines of The Block Island Sound (on Netflix) meets Silent Hill as ominous fog rolls over a vacation town that’s been vacated by most. Keating loves honoring his idols throughout his films, each feeling like a student wants to make his teachers proud. Offseason is his championing of waterlogged themes and unexplained mysteries, feeling almost like a radio drama you’d expect to hear read aloud by hosts through adjustable static.

Indie horror fans will recognize strong performances from Jocelin Donahue, Richard Brake, Jeremy Gardner, and more. The film can become a bit airy as scenes seem to flow into one another on mere whims, which will be a make-or-break sensation. Offseason is all about the experience, driving tension and suspense like a weather-influenced ghost story. As long as you don’t mind being a sightseeing passenger, you’ll be fine.

7. Hatching

If your horror flick has outstanding practical creature effects, you immediately have my attention. Hatching goes further to blend coming-of-age awkwardness with an aviary monster that hatches from a discovered egg. As IGN’s official review acknowledges, “With delightful practical effects, and a spectacular child performance at its center, Finnish body-horror movie Hatching works despite itself.” At barely 90 minutes and loaded with full-on shots of a spectacularly grim bird-beast, you’re in good hands.

A special shout-out goes to Siiri Solalinna, who plays the 12-year-old gymnast lead that becomes a maternal caretaker to the creature mentioned above. They grow close, metaphors for maturity overtake, and dangers arise when the 12-year-old’s roommate starts lashing out at anyone who “hurts” her mama. That includes the girl’s overbearing influencer mother. We’ve seen protector flicks like this before, but Hatching drills into the core horrors of stage moms, expensive facades, and broken homes that try to appear as anything else.

6. Watcher

I liked Watcher a tad more than IGN’s Amelia Emberwing, whose 7 out of 10 review says, “The story will linger too long for some, but anyone willing to stick with it is in for a treat.” Chloe Okuno’s feature debut needs nothing more than a woman abroad and the man whose eyes are always locked on said woman’s figure. It’s highlighting horrors of the outside world, as society repeatedly tells women they’re perfectly safe and to stop overreacting, right before another innocent life is taken by some dude who stalked another innocent soul home late one night.

Maika Monroe stars as the American wife of a businessman who relocates to Bucharest, Romania. Even without Burn Gorman’s insidious neighbor who ends up being the “Watcher,” Okuno does well to accentuate the loneliness of a partner doing right by their spouse through sacrifice and discomfort. Then the social commentary and voyeuristic unrest take over as both Maika and Burn do their best on the respective sides of an invasive, grossly vulnerable stalker scenario that uses reality as the utmost impetus for horror cinema. Why create imaginary monsters when our lives are filled with real ones?

5. The Innocents

In my IGN review for The Innocents, I conclude, “The Innocents is a slow-burner that stars a majority small-fry cast and yet is far more poised and impactful than those descriptions suggest.” What’s so stunning about this dark Norwegian take on children with superpowers is how mature the film treats its subjects. There’s never a desire to water-down dire consequences because wee younglings are in charge. If anything, the screenplay amplifies concepts around children not understanding the harm they can cause and how quickly some are forced to grow up.

It’s a playground metaphor for unchecked aggression and the corruption of unlimited powers. Kids start levitating rocks and realizing they’re far more special than their parents ever imagined — both a blessing and a curse. Horror elements interfere when one child uses his abilities in hurtful ways, as the other powered children wonder how to stop his rein of terror. It’s an impactful film about choices and how quickly humans succumb to their worst impulses, made immensely more impactful given the age of all players involved.

4. Scream

Radio Silence’s Scream sequel does right by franchise creators Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson. It’s a requel that plays into all the tropes and decades-later revamps that have tried tirelessly to revive franchises gasping for air. IGN’s Amelia Emberwing gave the film a 9 out of 10, saying, “All of the performances are pitch-perfect, the kills are gnarly, and no version of toxic fandom is left unmocked.” I agree with those words, since the film so lovingly pays homage to multiple threads from Williamson’s original script with all the sharp genre commentary Craven loved to exploit.

The year of “Jenna Ortega: Our Scream Queen” continues since she stars alongside Melissa Barrera as slasher surviving sisters, meeting franchise favorites like Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox. There’s no chip on the shoulders of Radio Silence as they direct through another massacre that’s the most violent and relentless to date, yet comedy thrives as Jasmin Savoy Brown becomes the Meeks we deserve. Scream (2022) channels Craven, guts “Horror Twitter” with scathing commentary against gatekeepers, and feels comfortably at home in the franchise. That’s all Scream fans can ask for, shake-ups and all.

3. Nope

Jordan Peele’s no stranger to “Best of” horror lists between Get Out and Us — and Nope is no different. It’s Peele having a blast with Twilight Zone influences on a Speilbergian sci-fi scale. We don’t toss around the term “Event Horror” anymore (used to describe blockbuster horror flicks that devour the screen) but Peele has become a champion for such spectacle filmmaking now for a third time with Nope. Audiences will find an immensely entertaining UFO mystery with laughs and chills — but that’s just on the surface.

Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, and Steven Yeun explore the nasty histories of minorities being tossed aside and forgotten by Hollywood. Our ugly relationship with spectacles is put on display while Peele still manages to keep us in awe of the overarching alien threat. Peele operates outside the more overt social commentaries of Get Out and Us, without ditching a directorial voice that’s arguably the most unique in contemporary horror cinema. In Peele we trust, and there’s a reason IGN gave the film a 9 out of 10 in our official review.

2. The Black Phone

Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill strike horror gold again with The Black Phone. IGN’s official review dials in a 9 out of 10, as Amelia concludes, “The Black Phone mixes the supernatural with relatable horrors in ways that will leave you both terrified and hopeful.” It’s that hopefulness that I wasn’t expecting because Ethan Hawke’s child kidnapper “The Grabber” sure is a nasty son-of-a-gun. Child actors Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw play their parts so tremendously well, that it’s impossible not to leave thinking the kids will be alright.

Direction goes a long way for The Black Phone because Derrickson shows a confident and transformative command of The Grabber’s basement. It feels massive when Thames’ victim searches around for escape clues and claustrophobic when The Grabber comes downstairs to enhance sensations of chilly isolation. Add in a few paranormal scares and killer mask designs by Tom Savini, and you’ve got a definitive crowd-pleasing horror film worth acclaim. Not like that’s anything new for the team behind Sinister.

1. X

Ti West’s X is as glorious and malevolent a return to horror features that anyone could ask for from the indie filmmaker turned prolific television director. IGN’s official review gave X an 8 out of 10, which I come in a little higher on myself. West’s incorporation of countless influences from Giallo to 70s sleazeploitation makes for an artfully chaotic brand of contemporary slasher. It’s handily one of A24’s better horror films, filled with gratuitous but oh-so-slick gore and all the sweltery southern terrorization in films like The Town That Dreaded Sundown or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Performances across the board help make X so memorable. It’s Jenna Ortega’s year in horror without any question, but she’s only one piece to X’s blood-splattered puzzle. Brittany Snow, Kid Cudi, Mia Goth, and more play above-and-beyond parts as pornographers trying to elevate their medium. West has loads of fun comparing horror to pornography in terms of public perception, while characters are granted agency beyond easy stereotypes. What’s not to like about a sex-positive slasher that swings a big ego and delivers as promised?

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