It doesn’t have to be Halloween to enjoy a night in with your favourite scary movie, and this last year was a great one for horror fans! From homicidal robotic dolls to surreal nightmare dreamscapes, there’s something here for everyone. Whether it’s to share some scares for a date, have some fun and frights with friends, or even just corral a creep by yourself, here are some of the best horror movies from 2022.
- Bodies Bodies Bodies is hilarious. Everything about it screams Gen Z. A group of lovably insufferable teenagers get together to party during a hurricane. What could go wrong? Someone dies, fingers are pointed, and all hell breaks loose. It’s a horror movie manifestation of ‘Gaslight Gatekeep Girlboss’. This movie is a product of its time and knows it. The dialogue is razor sharp, teetering every so carefully between cringe and camp, and the actors hit every beat on the ‘angsty rich screenager’ bingo board. There’s also a feature song written for it by Charli XCX that absolutely slaps. What’s not to like?
- The Menu is a biting satire on elitism of all kinds—from the ivory tower of wealth to the snobbery of gastrophiles, nobody is spared (literally). Ralph Fiennes plays an haute chef who invites a smorgasbord of clientele from all walks of opulence to a dinner they’ll never forget. All except Anya Taylor Joy, who is a delight as the straight man in a movie that progressively gets more and more insane. It’s light on scares, and heavy on (black) comedy, but make no mistake—The Menu isn’t afraid to get bloody. This is the perfect movie to watch with friends and then argue about afterwards at your favorite restaurant.
- M3GAN is this generation’s attempt at a techno-Chucky. I am ignoring 2019’s Child Play because let’s face it, it wasn’t that good. In M3GAN, a tech inventor gifts her adopted niece a robot that can play parent—and killer. What makes M3GAN so great aren’t any profound literary themes to ponder over on your drive home, or terrifying scenes that give you nightmares; no, what makes M3GAN great is that it’s fun. It’s your standard popcorn fare infused with a certain sense of flare that lets you just sit back and enjoy yourself. Having a robotic doll do TikTok dances before killing someone gives M3GAN just the right amount of camp to let yourself curl up with your favorite people and enjoy.
- Bones and All is like Call Me By Your Name but with more than one cannibal. I joke, but director Luca Guadagnino knows exactly how to create an atmosphere of forbidden romance. The movie follows Maren Yearly, a reluctant cannibal who can’t help but gorge on human flesh. She forms an unlikely bond with Lee, a fellow cannibal played by Timothée Chalamet, and the audience follows their journey across the United States as they reckon with their monstrous nature and desire to exist all the same, all under the lens of familiar themes of loss, family, and poverty. Where the movie most shines, however, is in its visuals. More poignant exploration of the human condition than a movie designed to incite fear, the frames are infused with a sense of grainy macabre that gives a real humanity to these characters, even the truly monstrous Sully, played wonderfully by Mark Rylance.
- Prey is historical horror done right. It’s a movie about a humanoid alien hunter killing French trappers and Comanche warriors in the early 18th century, but there’s an adherence to historical accuracy that makes this movie a treat to watch. There’s a deep appreciation for native American culture in this movie, and a swath of destruction and mayhem that makes this a more than worthy creature feature. There’s an exploration of gender roles and coloniser relations that adds depth to this action-horror flick, and it’s more than worth a watch on the biggest screen you have available.
- Black Phone has heart. A kid gets abducted by the aptly named ‘Grabber’ and must use the titular device to talk to the ghosts of previous victims to help him escape. Throw in a psychic sister and you’ve got a King-esque romp that’s equal parts coming of age and horror thriller. There’s one scene involving the abuse of the main character’s sister that is especially disquieting. Ethan Hawke plays the villain all too well for a typecast protagonist, and the most horrifying moments are the ones that are all too real. The movie isn’t out to make you depressed however, as it’s a ‘feel-good’ horror movie if there ever was one, making this the perfect “scary movie” for a date night or night in with friends.
- X is about a group of young adults who go to a secluded farmhouse in Texas to film a porno, which is of course occupied by a couple of geriatric serial killers. It’s a loving homage to the age of slashers, to classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Mia Goth is absolutely brilliant as both the lead protagonist and the villain, with Jenna Ortega (so hot right now) and Kid Cudi helping to round out a fantastic supporting cast. Director Ti West ratchets up the tension and renders some genuinely gruesome kills in this neo-slasher. A prequel film, Pearl, was also released in 2022, which is also great.
- Mad God creates the kind of surrealist dreamscapes that occupy your darkest nightmares. Shot in a herky-jerky stop-motion, this animated film makes full use of its medium to tell the story of a man (only referred to as the “Assassin”) and his journey into a dystopic hell where dying is the least of your problems. There is a pervading sense of dread in this movie, a constant feeling that things aren’t ever going to get better. The conjured world of suffering created by Phil Tippett is a brutal one, and watching it fills you with a sense of unease that lasts long after the 80 minute runtime.
- Smile is scary, full stop. The movie follows a therapist who uncovers a killer curse whose manifestation is, you guessed, a smile. If you want nothing else than a balls-to-the-walls-lights-out-blankets-covering-your-eyes type experience, then Smile fits your bill. And although the premise might seem rote, and to some extent it is, Smile actually manages to weave in themes of the trauma of burnout and depression that raise this just beyond your typical jumpscare-fest. But let’s be clear—this is a deeply dark, grim, and oppressive tale. It is a horror movie.
Soft & Quiet is a grim reminder that it’s often reality which is scariest of all. As a person of colour, it’s easy to feel nervous reading stories about hate crimes and prejudiced aggression. And Soft & Quiet gives voice to all those fears in a scarily topical movie about a group of white supremacist women whose views lead to a terrifying conclusion after a run-in with two Asian-American sisters. There’s a haunting intimacy to the camerawork that seems to erase the psychological intimacy often inherent in watching a movie. The climax is gut-wrenching and almost unwatchable just due to the corporeality of the events taking place. Soft & Quiet doesn’t take place in some alternate reality, some fantasy land like some of the other movies on this list. It’s in the world we live in right now, which makes every scene all the more terrifying.