Ricky looking up

In terms of horror cinema, 2022 has been one of the most memorable and interesting years for quite a while. We have seen the release of all kinds of horror films, from big budget flicks to tiny arthouse releases, many of which have vividly captured our deepest fears and put them up on the big screen. Though a few of our picks were practically impossible to miss after their release, we’re willing to bet at least a few of them have slipped by even the most horror-obsessed fans out there.

Below, we’ll be looking back at some of the best horror movies to be released in 2022. So curl up under a blanket and turn the lights off (or keep them all on), and get ready for a spooky time. Whether you’re afraid of supernatural horrors, mask-wearing maniacs, or extreme body horror, there’s something here for everyone looking for fresh material for their nightmares.

Nope

Emerald looking forward

While he rose to prominence as half of the comedy duo "Key and Peele," Jordan Peele has since made a total 180 with his career and gone on to direct some of the most popular horror movies of our time. Following up his modern classics "Get Out" and "Us" is Peele’s most recent project, "Nope," which delves into an equally absurd premise of science fiction and horror. At least it certainly has all the hallmarks of a science fiction story, when a mysterious flying object appears over a rural California horse ranch, much to the amazement of the owners, siblings OJ and Em Haywood (Daniel Kaluya and Keke Palmer).

Though the UFO first appears to the Haywood ranchers over a remote stretch of California desert, they are far from the only people enthralled by the extraterrestrial arrival. Just about everyone with the means to do so tries to cash in on the spectacle, with unexpected consequences for those who venture too close. Fans of Peele’s previous films can expect much of the same wit that his works have become known for, capped off with a truly unsettling premise about mankind’s relation to nature itself.

The Black Phone

The Grabber wearing a mask

Hitting theaters in the summer of 2022, "The Black Phone" is one of the higher grossing picks on our list, and with good reason. Set in the neighborhoods of suburban Denver during the late ’70s, a child abducting menace known only as "The Grabber" (Ethan Hawke) has eluded all attempts by law enforcement to bring him to justice. When 13-year-old Finney Blake (Mason Thames) wakes up in an austere basement, it seems he’s doomed to become just the latest victim of a long string of child disappearances at the hands of the infamous kidnapper. When a corded telephone that his captor claims to be broken starts to ring, however, it seems that Finney has been given the slimmest of chances to avoid a grisly fate.

A tried and true premise with an original twist makes "The Black Phone" just about everything you could want out of a fun summertime tale of horror. It’s full of well-earned scares, and there’s plenty of tension that gradually builds to cloak this future classic in a chilling sense of unease throughout its runtime.

X

Lorraine crying behind a door

Sometimes all you’re in the mood for is a blood-spattered horror flick that’s light on plot and heavy on gruesome kills, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Set during the late ’70s, "X" is something of a tribute to the bygone era of classic slashers like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and similarly gruesome titles. Following a group of young adults in rural Texas hoping to create an adult film, they’ve got everything they need to bring the illicit production to life besides a location. When the gang happens across a picturesque farm owned by elderly couple Howard (Stephen Ure) and Pearl (Mia Goth in a dual performance), however, it looks like the final ingredient for their amateur film has finally fallen into place.

Of course, this one’s rated R, not X, which means you’d be right to assume somewhere along the way just about every one of our protagonists will find themselves in a pool of their own blood. Even though it’s less interested in delving into the deeper themes that a few of our other picks explore, overwhelmingly positive reception means that "X" marks the spot for horror fans looking for one of the best slashers in recent memory.

Hellbender

Izzy holding a sigil

Receiving a limited release in mid-2021 followed by an official release on Shudder in early 2022, "Hellbender" is something special for many reasons, not the least of which is the filmmaking family production team behind it.

Set in a remote home deep in the woods, teenage Izzy (Zelda Adams) lives with her family and is removed from almost every facet of civilization. At first glance, the reason for the family’s self-imposed isolation seems to be nothing more than the product of a down-to-earth and at times eccentric lifestyle. However when circumstances cause Izzy to gradually come into contact with those outside of her family, much to the dismay of her mother, the true reason for their way of life is slowly revealed.

Seasoned horror fans would be forgiven for wondering if this one is just a low-budget rehash of everything we’ve seen unfold in films like "The Witch." Instead of retreading the same ideas that you might expect though, "Hellbender" is first and foremost a coming-of-age story that’s packed with modern-day witchcraft and the occult. Trust us when we say this is one worth giving a try.

Hatching

Tinja with giant egg

Arguably one of the more surreal releases of the year, "Hatching" is a Finnish horror film that will likely make even those with the strongest stomachs feel squeamish. After a crow is brutally attacked by a family, their daughter Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) takes pity on the dying animal and retrieves its egg to hatch herself. Unexpectedly, the egg grows far beyond its expected size, ultimately hatching into a grotesque birdlike creature wholly dependent on Tinja’s care for survival. This unlikely parental bond isn’t the only connection that Tinja shares with the creature, now named Alli, as a much deeper psychic link between them threatens to distort her life beyond recognition.

The combination of body horror nightmare and coming-of-age story on display in "Hatching" is one that only gets weirder by the minute. Despite tepid reception from audiences, critics were overwhelmingly supportive of the ambitious film, which is as upfront with its disturbing premise as it is with its artistic visuals. This was also the directorial debut for Finnish director Hanna Bergholm, and it hopefully marks the start of a long and equally bizarre filmography.

Men

Man behind a mask

Though his filmography as a director has been brief so far, Alex Garland has built a reputation from projects that often blur the line between science fiction and horror. With labyrinthine plots and ambiguous, confusing endings, "Annihilation" and "Ex Machina" succeeded in making audiences feel deeply unsettled. His most recent film "Men," doesn’t stray quite as far into the realm of science fiction as his previous films, but it remains a unique piece of horror cinema, and still manages to be pure nightmare fuel.

After the tragic passing of her husband, Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) finds herself still reeling from the incident during a trip to a remote English village. The situation soon devolves into the paranormal for the grief-stricken Marlowe, however, when she notices a disturbing trend among the village’s residents. See, it’s already odd enough that she’s the only lady in the entire town, but it soon becomes clear that there’s also only one man. That is, only one man’s face, since everyone in the village, young and old, bears the likeness of a man named Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear playing numerous roles). Her experience in the mysterious village only gets stranger from there, culminating in a bizarre and twisted ending that is a fitting conclusion for a story focusing on grief, gender, and a whole lot more.

Master

Gail Bishop looking forward

There’s something evil brewing at a prestigious New England college, and it’s not just crippling student loan debt. Set on the grounds of the fictional Ancaster university, "Master" is a film that balances its scares with some real-world messages. The story revolves around three women who find themselves at the elite school for different reasons. There’s new student Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), English professor Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), and newly appointed master of the college Gail Bishop (Regina Hall). Separate from each other, the three women slowly piece together the truth behind alleged hauntings that have been plaguing the campus for years, even as their investigations threaten their lives.

With a unique setting and impactful commentary on the unfortunately complicated relations between race and higher education, "Master" might be one of the more underrated releases of the year. The enduring question of what’s truly going on at the university manages to linger all the way to the end, all while forever changing the lives of everyone it touches.

Flux Gourmet

Sonic catering performers on stage

No one said horror couldn’t be funny. Some classics like the "Evil Dead" series balanced their blood-soaked gore with plenty of gags, and others like "Tucker and Dale vs. Evil" dialed the comedy all the way up to 11. Getting a muted release in early 2022, "Flux Gourmet" isn’t quite like any of those genre-blending horror comedies we mentioned, with the end result being something wholly unlike anything we’ve seen before.

The film’s absurd premise surrounds a group of artists who are a bit unhinged, to say the least, and an amateur reporter assigned to document their creative process. The way in which our produce-powered performance artists go about creating their latest masterpiece is through a method called "sonic catering" — a process that entails harvesting unique and disturbing sounds from food. Like we said, this one’s pretty out there. As the plot progresses it takes its already surreal premise and runs with it, devolving into something that’s hard to definitively pin down to any one film genre. Filled with bizarre sex scenes, potty humor, gore, and just about everything else you can imagine, "Flux Gourmet" will make you both laugh and squirm in your seat.

Crimes of the Future

Man covered in ears

Perhaps best known for his 1986 classic "The Fly," David Cronenberg has since emerged as one of the premiere directors for horror buffs. Continually crafting films that challenge audiences’ tolerance for the grotesque, he frequently calls upon the themes of sci-fi and body horror to bring his twisted stories to life.

While fans of Cronenberg’s filmography may be aware that this film shares a title with one of his earliest works, the similarities between the two end there. Instead, "Crimes of the Future" spins an original tale of a dystopian future in which the planet has been ravaged by unchecked technological advancement. The price for such rapid progress has proven to be very high indeed, with the whole of humanity mutating along with the world around it. Some characteristics of what it means to be alive, such as feeling pain, have since been entirely lost to time, with new and disturbing trends becoming popular in the absence of such basic instincts.

There’s so much more to unpack in this pessimistic imagining of the future, such as a shady government plot to suppress humanity’s deepest secrets and a radical underground society trying to bring them to light. It may be a bit indulgent at times with all its gory excesses, but in the end, that’s why we keep coming back to Cronenberg’s films. Besides, "Crimes of the Future" never gets too carried away with itself, and Cronenberg never loses sight of the deeper message being told behind the film’s madness.

Scream

Ghostface holding a bloody knife

After three sequels of varying quality and a decade-long hiatus, the fifth installment in the "Scream" series of films was a much-needed return to form for the franchise. Revisiting the infamous town of Woodsboro, a group of high school students is once again terrorized by the return of Ghostface as he cuts and slashes his way through the community. Sure, it’s not all that original, but you can always count on "Scream" to be self-aware and packed with enough horror movie satire to be forgiven for its clichés.

Whether you’ve faithfully watched every "Scream" sequel since the original or understandably given up somewhere along the way, the latest entry is one to reconsider if you brushed it off at first. With a year that’s shaping up to be one of the most varied in a while for horror concepts, "Scream" is a tried and true recipe that still works.

You Won’t Be Alone

Nevana next to a chicken

"You Won’t Be Alone" is both a visually stunning horror movie and a dark fairy tale firmly intended for an adult crowd. Set in 19th century Europe, this is one of the few period pieces on our list, chronicling the life and struggle of a young girl and her lifelong battle with an evil witch named Maria (Anamaria Marinca) that terrorizes her village. There are no lengthy battle sequences or quippy one-liners though, as this one is as much about our protagonist trying to understand what’s left of her humanity as it is her struggle against the witch that took it away from her.

The film opens with Maria’s terrifying visit to the home of a newborn baby named Nevana (Sara Klimoska). Initially intent on stealing the child for herself and converting her into a witch, a desperate bargain by Nevana’s mother only prolongs the inevitable and robs her daughter of her voice. Sixteen years later, Maria returns to collect on the debt and sends the now teenaged Nevana down the path her mother tried to avoid.

We won’t delve too much deeper into what goes on in this one, as "You Won’t Be Alone" is best enjoyed by experiencing the many twists and turns that Nevana’s life takes along with her. That said, incredibly positive critical reception makes this a must-watch, and one of our favorite horror films of the year. Just don’t go into this one expecting any cheap horror scares, and brace yourself for a far more artistic slow burn, that tips the scale just a bit in favor of style over substance at times.

Speak No Evil

Bjorn and Patrick screaming

It’s hard for most of us to imagine anything more horrifying than an awkward social situation, which are the exact circumstances our protagonists find themselves trapped in during this Danish horror film. After a Danish family on vacation becomes acquainted with a similarly friendly Dutch family, they’re invited to visit them sometime. Unbeknownst to them, what should be just an uncomfortable dinner date devolves into a living nightmare at the hands of their hosts.

Though it didn’t quite garner the same level of attention as some of our other picks, "Speak No Evil" has still emerged as one of the most memorable horror pictures of the year. We’d call it a favorite, but this one winds up going down a path so dark we’re not quite sure how high it ranks on the rewatchability scale. It’s not just us who found our stomachs in a knot by the time this one came to its unexpected ending either. In their review for IndieWire, Susannah Gruder stated that: "I’ll leave audiences with a warning … ‘Speak No Evil’ is the most cunningly depraved horror film in years, offering a piercing commentary on the ways we accommodate others to the point of self-subjugation." Hey, at least we warned you.

Watcher

Julia looking through a gate

We’ve all been there: Closing the curtains at night in the hope of keeping the unknown from peering in at us from outside. Playing off of that common fear is the film "Watcher," which ups the terror by turning the unknown into a reality, and having it unflinchingly stare back at our protagonist.

After relocating from the United States to the streets of Bucharest with her husband Francis (Karl Glusman), Julia (Maika Monroe) is doing her best to settle into their shared apartment. Without any knowledge of the native language of Romanian, though, Julia is finding it hard to grow accustomed to her new way of life. To make the situation even more uncomfortable, she notices a stranger constantly watching her from the window of a neighboring apartment across the street. Though Francis is rightfully concerned with Julia’s well-being, he’s more aloof than she is about the potential voyeur and dismisses her fears as paranoia. This sets off a terrifying mind game Julia finds herself trapped in with her neighbor, as she becomes increasingly anxious about what, if anything, he might do next.

With its barebones premise, "Watcher" might just be the most realistic pick on our list. The gripping horror thriller will leave you asking the same questions as Julia throughout its runtime, and wondering whether or not something truly is going on all the way to the end.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

America, Wong, and Doctor Strange

After almost two decades, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown into one of the most ubiquitous, iconic film series of all time. However, while the groundwork for the film universe we’ve come to know and love was established with a tried and tested formula, Marvel has realized that the titles that buck the trend and try something new are often the most loved by fans. Quirky entries like "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" went against convention and proved that thinking outside the box is just what was needed to keep superhero films from getting stale.

In perhaps one of their riskiest ventures to date, Marvel decided to add to the relatively niche genre of horror inspired superhero flicks with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" a terrifying romp through alternate realities. After a teenage girl (Xochitl Gomez) with the power to unwittingly travel through the multiverse winds up in our own universe, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) begins a quest to fully understand her powers. What the former Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t realize, though, is that the person he believed to be an old friend might just be the worst person to reveal the newcomer’s powers to. With enough horror elements and multiverse hijinks to satisfy any fan, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding MCU.

The House

Mabel holding a lantern

Fans of stop motion animation should have cause to celebrate after seeing this one make our list. This absolute tour-de-force for the visual medium might have slipped under the radar for some thanks to its direct-to-Netflix release, which is a shame given its incredible storytelling. Told in three distinct segments, "The House" is a totally different take on the horror genre unlike anything we’ve covered, and one that chronicles the history of the same house across three generations.

"The House" begins as many cautionary tales do, with a family not quite content with what they have in life. After being rebuked by their more affluent family members, the father of the family stumbles off in a drunken rage one night only to be given the opportunity of a lifetime to turn his family’s lives around. After promising to give up almost everything they have, the family is allowed to live in a lavish mansion atop a hill with every desire they could wish for fulfilled. Their newfound fortune comes with a catch, however, and one that only the family’s daughter Mabel (Mia Goth) seems able to overcome.

If you grew up hiding under the blankets in fear of the Other Mother’s demented world in the now beloved "Coraline," this one will play on many of the same fears thanks to its haunting setting and similar themes of unchecked greed. Despite its beginning segment being undeniably terrifying, however, "The House" gradually evolves into something else entirely as its titular setting grows and decays over the years.

Pearl

Pearl holding an axe

Following the release of 2022’s critically acclaimed "X," director Ti West shocked audiences by adding another piece to the story with the surprise fall release of the prequel film, "Pearl." Going back to the early 20th century, the same homestead that served as the location for the bloody massacre in "X" is left in the hands of a much younger Pearl (Mia Goth). Pearl’s husband Howard is off fighting in the first World War and her already difficult life is made even more so by her parents, who also live on the farm.

Longing for an escape from the responsibilities of caring for her sickly father and intense demands from her controlling mother, Pearl fantasizes about making it big on stage. When it becomes clear that her aspirations of grandeur might not become reality, however, Pearl spirals out of control, with disastrous consequences for everyone in her path.

Don’t let the plot fool you; this isn’t another generic blood-soaked slasher, even though this is a genre that Ti West clearly has a fondness for. Instead, "Pearl" manages to buck the trend and keep things unique enough to make the film one of the best scares of the year so far. Critics agreed, with the Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus praising West for "squeezing fresh gore out of the world he created with X."

Smile

Rose looking forward shocked

"Smile" opens with the bizarre and tragic death of a patient under the care of psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon). The grisly scene is carried out in full view of Rose, which understandably leaves her reeling from the traumatic experience. Plagued by recurring memories of the event, she slowly begins to withdraw from both her career and social life, with disturbing hallucinations that make her suspect something far more supernatural is at play. After some digging, she discovers that she’s far from the first person to fall victim to the mysterious visuals, but she may well be the last.

Based on director Parker Finn’s short film "Laura Hasn’t Slept," "Smile" has become one of our favorite psychological horror films in recent memory. Fans of the horror favorite "It Follows" will likely feel right at home with this one thanks to a few similarities between the two titles, such as the concept of passing on each film’s antagonist to another victim. Thankfully, "Smile" manages to bring enough that’s fresh to the table for audiences to walk away feeling terrified.

Fresh

Steve and Noa dance

Dating can feel a bit like trekking through a minefield for plenty of reasons, not least of which being the chance that your partner might just wind up being a deranged serial killer. That’s exactly the situation Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) finds herself in after a few dates with her newfound boyfriend Steve (Sebastian Stan). Turns out Steve isn’t even his real name, and instead of being a charming gentleman, he’s entrenched in just about the most stomach-turning form of crime out there. Now held captive by a man who’d make a great head chef for Hannibal Lecter, Noa is left struggling to survive in any way she can.

While all that rightly sounds like some pretty serious stuff, "Fresh" is a far cry from your typical gore-fest (though there’s still plenty of that). Instead, this critically acclaimed flick winds up tossing everything from romance to satire into the mix, making it worth a try for even the pickiest viewers.

Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bee and Sophie look over railing

A madcap party at an equally extravagant mansion serves as the setting for A24’s "Bodies Bodies Bodies." Only the second directorial venture for Dutch actress-turne-director Halina Reijn, this one goes far further off the rails than her previous film "Instinct." The madness gets started pretty soon when one of the partygoers turns up brutally murdered, leaving the survivors to speculate who among them is the killer. Turns out it could be just about any of them, as instead of cooperating in the name of survival, they wind up at each other’s throats before the night is over.

Another title not afraid to balance its violence with comedy, "Bodies Bodies Bodies" also opted to toss in some commentary on the modern day relationship between technology and its users to the bloody mix. The critical response for this one is also among some of the best for the year, with reviewers largely praising its tone and mysterious plot. It’s not your typical horror flick, which is what makes it so darn fun to watch.

Prey

Scared Naru leans against tree

The universe of "Predator" has become such an enduring favorite of the years thanks in no small part to its ability to skirt the line between science fiction and downright horror. Perhaps no film exemplifies that idea more than the latest offering in the series, "Prey," which goes back to the early 18th century when much of the North American great plains was firmly in control of native tribes. It turns out their control over the land will soon be challenged, however, as an interloper from across the stars makes a dramatic appearance on the plains.

The telltale signs of a Predator start small, with flashing lights of its spacecraft, and later the remains of its animal victims all serving as warnings of what’s to come. On the frontline of the impending assault is Naru (Amber Midthunder), her dog Sarii, and the rest of the Comanche warriors, all of whom will have their survival and fighting skills put to the ultimate test in the face of a near invincible opponent. A breath of fresh air for the franchise, "Prey" is easily one of the best in the "Predator" series, and an entry that even gives the original a run for its money.

Mad God

The assassin holding a light

Though his name may be unfamiliar to less seasoned film buffs, Phil Tippett has undeniably left his mark on the world of cinema, playing a crucial role in bringing some of our most beloved movies to life over the years. Most famous for working on visual effects and animation on such films as "Star Wars: Episode IV," "Robocop," and "Jurassic Park" to name just a few, his directorial offerings, on the other hand, are few and far between. It’s clear he learned a lot from decades of working alongside some of Hollywood’s top talents over the years, though, as the 2022 film "Mad God" excels in just about everything it does.

Set in a dystopian hell-scape, seemingly endless warfare isn’t the only thing worth fearing in the twisted world of the stop-motion animated horror "Mad God." Populated by nightmarish monsters and equally monstrous humans, the story begins with one assassin’s descent into the deepest and darkest depths of the world — and Tippet’s own imagination — before the dreamlife narrative morphs into something entirely different. A labor of love almost 30 years in the making (via Bloody Disgusting), "Mad God" is matched in its boundless imagination only by its breathtaking animation and is sure to please just about every fan of both stop motion or horror alike.

Barbarian

Tess crawling up a ladder

Getting its release at the tail end of summer 2022, "Barbarian" was immediately greeted with overwhelming critical praise. Only the third directorial feature by director Zach Cregger (and the first to be entirely Cregger’s work), he’s already proven himself to be a master at his craft.

Packed with suspense, frights, and even some awkwardly comedic moments, "Barbarian" excels at everything horror with its sickly engrossing plot. Generally regarded as best to go into with as little prior knowledge as possible, if you’re at all interested in giving "Barbarian" a try we suggest doing just that. If you’re still not sold, read on.

Set in the middle of a rotting Detroit suburb, Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) is the latest guest to stay in a small rental home. Unexpectedly, however, it turns out the property is double booked, with a man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) already comfortably settled in.

With few alternatives to pick from and an important job interview the next morning, Tess is left with little choice but to make a cautious peace with her unexpected housemate. From there, things take a deep dive into some of the most unsettling horror moments that we’ve seen in a while, and wind up defying expectations in every possible way.

Terrifier 2

Art the clown honking horn at woman

After the original "Terrifier" made waves with fans of all things gory, director Damien Leone doubled down with the release of "Terrifier 2," and somehow managed to surpass everything that made the first film so great. In the wake of the first blood-soaked massacre on Halloween night, Art the Clown rises from his deceased slumber to once again cut down everyone in his path. This time, though, the homicidal harlequin has an equally sadistic companion in tow that’ll likely give viewers some nightmares (and then some).

While the original "Terrifier" was admittedly light on plot, the sequel weaves a bit more story into its celebration of all things blood and guts to create something that the Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus notes "outdoes the original in every way."

We’ll make this clear: If you’re at all squeamish when it comes to horror, this one probably isn’t for you. But if you’re a lover of slashers that are as ludicrous as they are vile, "Terrifier 2" might be the only film capable of matching the energy of the first one.

The Cursed

Man carrying torch through the woods

"The Cursed" is another horror flick that takes audiences back in time. Here, it’s 19th century France, where a menacing presence stalks its way through the countryside. The horror begins after the particularly brutal massacre of a community of Romani travelers at the hands of the land’s cruel owner. From there, the victims’ long awaited revenge comes in the form of the supernatural, vowing to avenge the lives of those slaughtered.

While 2022 has been one of the strongest years for the genre of horror that we’ve seen in a while, the sub-genre of gothic horror is one that’s been unfortunately lacking. Thankfully, "The Cursed" is there to fill in that much-loved niche.

While audiences didn’t respond too well to the film on Rotten Tomatoes, critics recognized it as an artistic interpretation of the classic concept of werewolves, which keeps things exciting. Noel Murray of The Los Angeles Times called the film "engaging, thanks to the way Ellis captures its era: not just through striking low-light images but also through a pervasive sense of menace" and we definitely agree with that.