Whether you’re into extraterrestrial creature features, sharp social commentary slashers, or cannibal love stories, 2022 was a colossal year for horror.
The best horror movies of 2022 scared the crap out of us, but not all in the same way. Alien invasion films dominated this year, from Jordan Peele’s third ambitious horror hit to Dan Trachtenberg’s Predator prequel and Nyla Innuksuk’s teen triumph. But slashers wouldn’t be outdone. Laurie Strode took a final stab at the ending chapter of the Halloween series; Bodies Bodies Bodies was the talk of multiple towns; and people ate up Bones and All. If you’re looking to cut right to the top horror hits of the year, rest assured: There’s something weird and terrifying in here for you.
Here we go, the best horror movies of 2022.
Credit: Stellar Citizens
With Prey and Nope, it sure has been a monumental year for alien invasion films, but Slash/Back was an underrated highlight. The first ever feature filmed in the hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut, it’s set in the Inuit village of Canada’s Baffin Island. Slash/Back is a creative, cheeky, and teen-led take on the genre from co-writer/director Nyla Innuksuk. Flanked with an excellent score by Michael Brook and The Halluci Nation, Slash/Back hinges on a group of teenage girls — Maika (Tasiana Shirley), Jesse (Alexis Wolfe), Uki (Nalajoss Ellsworth), Leena (Chelsea Prusky), and Aju (Frankie Vincent-Wolfe) — who are the village’s best chance at eradicating the alien forms going about their body-snatching business. Seriously, the skin suits in this film are nightmare fuel. But beyond the scares, gore, and odes to John Carpenter’s The Thing, Innuksuk lets our kickass protagonists be truly what they are: teens. There’s always time to talk about crushes, even between tentacle-clad alien hunts. As the girls say in one killer battle-prep montage: “Nobody fucks with the girls from Pang.” — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor
How to watch: Slash/Back is now streaming on Shudder.
Credit: Amazon Studios / Moviestore / Shutterstock
Ominous hauntings can’t hold a candle to very real systemic racism in a predominantly white institution in Master. The feature film debut from filmmaker Mariama Diallo, the social horror-meets-supernatural thriller rolls out at an Ivy League University in New England. There, a talented Regina Hall plays Gail Bishop, the first Black professor in the university’s history to be “Master” of a residence hall on campus. With the new arrivals comes freshman Jasmine Moore (an excellent Zoe Renee), who is one of the only Black students in the hall. The film hinges on Jasmine’s feelings of isolation — all while she’s being haunted by visions in her dorm room. Though the supernatural elements of Master are indeed frightening, the incessant fear embedded in generational trauma, social exclusion, and racial discrimination becomes a deeper horror for the characters — to a devastating end. — S.C.
How to watch: Master is now streaming on Prime Video.
Credit: IFC Midnight
There are some movies that you just can’t shake. Nearly a year since I saw this psychological thriller out of Sundance, I still shudder remembering that mesmerizing and mysterious conclusion. Writer/director Andrew Semans lures us in with the story of a single mom (Rebecca Hall) who seems to have it all together, from her work/life balance to her meticulously groomed hair. But when a man from her past (Tim Roth) appears without warning, her life and sanity unravel ruthlessly. With riveting performances, mind-bending twists, and stomach-churning tension, Resurrection explores the horrors of domestic violence and psychological trauma to a deliciously horrorfying effect. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor
How to watch: Resurrection is now streaming on Shudder.
A glorious Australian horror gem from director-writers Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes, Sissy brings Black Mirror energy to a slasher drenched in blood, bubbly, and social media influencer juice. Anchored in violent childhood playground trauma, Sissy is led by eponymous protagonist Cecilia (a spectacularly nuanced performance from The Bold Type‘s Aisha Dee), a self-help influencer, who’d rather keep her past — and embarrassing schoolyard nickname — buried. Running into her childhood best friend Emma (Barlow), she finds herself invited to a hen’s weekend away at the property of an unwelcome blast from the past (Emily De Margheriti). Cecilia struggles to maintain the facade, and frankly, isn’t feeling these negative vibes intruding in her “safe space,” you know? The perfect movie marathon partner to Bodies Bodies Bodies, Sissy quite literally bludgeons influencer culture with some shockingly gory sequences, the body count climbing as quickly as Cecilia’s likes. — S.C.
How to watch: Sissy is now streaming on Shudder.
16. The Innocents
Credit: IFC Midnight
2022 offered a crowd of creepy kids movies, from Hatching to Firestarter to Orphan: First Kill. But top of the class is writer/director Eskil Vogt’s The Innocents, which centers on four children who learn to toy with telekinetic powers. At first, it’s all fun and games, played in the woods out of sight of their harried parents. Each of the children initially feels empowered by their supernatural gifts and the psychic bond they share. But growing resentments spark vicious tantrums and unforgivable cruelty, leading to a showdown that’s anything but child’s play. If you’re seeking something as heartfelt as it is harrowing, turn to The Innocents. — K.P.
How to watch: The Innocents is now streaming on Shudder.
15. You Won’t Be Alone
Credit: Causeway Films
Writer-director Goran Stolevski’s excellent allegorical fantasy-horror may have slipped past your nets. Set in an isolated mountain village in rural 19th-century Macedonia, the film feels like a surrealist folktale, following a young shapeshifter, Nevena (Sara Klimoska). Played by multiple excellent actors (including Noomi Rapace and Alice Englert) across the film, she was made so by a witch, Old Maid Maria (Anamaria Marinca), then left to find her way through the world. This exploration is by no means gentle, with Nevena’s violent struggle to assume new bodies and learn humanity’s ways making for an unsettling watch. If you like this type of witchcraft folk horror, check out Hellbender, also listed here, or Mandrake. — S.C.
How to watch: You Won’t Be Alone is now available for rent or purchase on Prime Video.
14. Mad God
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If you spent 30 years making a film, you’d feel pretty connected to it. For director Phil Tippett, it was a religious experience, as he told Mashable. The making of Mad God, Tippett’s macabre stop-motion animation masterpiece, has become something of a legend in itself. The film follows a masked character called The Assassin through a hellish, surrealist, subterranean world of monstrosities. You’ll watch every freaky frame and wonder how long it took to assemble and shoot. — S.C.
How to watch: Mad God is now streaming on Shudder.
13. Halloween Ends
Credit: Ryan Green / Universal Pictures
Ah, the definitive end to Michael Myers’ decades-long reign of terror on Haddonfield arrived. We never thought the day would finally come: the final battle between Final Girl supreme Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and The Shape, settled once and for all. With Halloween Ends, John Carpenter’s classic slasher finds peace (you know, as peaceful as any slasher can be) in Laurie and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). Their combined strength takes on Myers’ seemingly supernatural abilities along with slasher-in-training and recent mentee Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). You’ll get intriguingly vague endings, slashers on slashers, and an entire town fearing for their safety from silly little creeps. What else can you ask from a modern-age horror story? — Kyle McWilliams, Entertainment Intern
How to watch: Halloween Ends is now streaming on Peacock.
Credit: Marvel Studios
Horror films don’t have to be lengthy to be effective, a feat proven by director and composer Michael Giacchino in Werewolf by Night. The 60-minute Marvel film uses every trick in the Hammer Horror book to weave an elegant, atmospheric, and witty creature feature. An ode to old Hollywood horror written by Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron, Werewolf by Night embodies the quintessentially Gothic traits of the classic run of monster movies of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Playing monster-hunter-with-a-secret Jack Russell, Gael García Bernal strikes the perfect tone as Marvel’s newest lead. Werewolf by Night is one hell of a way to spend an academically spooky hour — and a breath of fresh crypt air for the MCU. — S.C.
How to watch: Werewolf by Night is now streaming on Disney+.
11. Wendell and Wild
Power team Henry Selick and Jordan Peele put their minds together to give us the stop-motion animated horror-comedy, Wendell and Wild, whose protagonist may steal your hearts (against her best efforts.) Kat Elliot (voiced by Lyric Ross), master of complex emotions and personal demons, sets out to rectify a loss that haunts her adolescence and lands her face-to-face with a couple of hair cream-loving, tummy-tickling demons: the titular Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele). Begrudgingly, Kat makes quite a few friends along her journey in dismantling her grief, deconstructing the prison industrial complex, and being a badass hellmaiden. The film is heartfelt enough to root for the misfit kids, yet just strange enough to fulfill its spooky duties. — K.M.
How to watch: Wendell and Wild is now streaming on Netflix.
10. Speak No Evil
Danish filmmaker Christian Tafdrup created a fucked-up fable for adults with this chilling film about a vacation among friends gone very, very wrong. What should have been a dreamy weekend away in the Dutch countryside creepingly and creepily transforms into a hellish nightmare, one broken boundary at a time. A grim but electric sense of humor is at play as polite guests (Morten Burian and Sidsel Siem Koch) bend over backward to make excuses for their unnerving hosts (Fedja van Huêt and Karina Smulders). But as awkward conversations give way to rude assumptions, reckless trespasses, and freaky voyeurism, Speak No Evil slips from darkly funny to uttering horrifying. It’s a wicked ride that won’t let go, delivering a final destination that is as disturbing as it is unforgettable. — K.P.
How to watch: Speak No Evil is now streaming on Shudder.
David Cronenberg returned to unsettle the hell out of us again in 2022 with Crimes of the Future. If you can’t deal with surgical scenes on screen, do not watch this film. Cronenberg’s simultaneously elegant and squeamish body horror questions what role performance art will play in the future, taking the examination of inner beauty quite literally while examining pleasure and pain — “Surgery is the new sex,” is a genuine line from this script. As purveyors of the line between organic and synthetic, artists rule this disturbing society, but when ethical issues around consent and post-death surgery come into play, performance artists Saul (Viggo Mortsensen) and Caprice (Léa Seydoux) must reckon with their responsibilities. Mortensen and Seydoux are exceptional and utterly convincing in Cronenberg’s foreboding future, joined by a magnificently understated performance by Kristen Stewart. The film is severely unsettling and graphic, especially when Cronenberg deploys the autopsy tech. — S.C.
How to watch: Crimes of the Future is now streaming on Hulu.
Credit: Christopher Moss / A24
There is so much to love about Pearl. From unforgettable aesthetics to the sheer chaos of watching Mia Goth absolutely kill it (quite literally) on screen, Pearl is a treasure trove of everything great about horror. Despite being a prequel to another horror hit of 2022, X, Pearl stands on its own two feet thanks to impeccable characterization by Goth, who offers up this slasher’s backstory in a glitzed-up Texas Chainsaw Massacre that’s equal parts anticipation and dread. She makes you both love and fear Pearl, who’s arguably already become an iconic figure of horror akin to the Bride of Frankenstein, wielding her ax into the horror hall of fame and our hearts. — Yasmeen Hamadeh, Entertainment Intern
Credit: Wonder Wheel Productions
As far as family projects go, Hellbender has got to be one of the most horrifyingly excellent. The micro-budget film was written and directed by married couple Toby Poser and John Adams, who star alongside daughters Zelda and Lulu. It was all shot during lockdown — while I was doing nothing but unnecessary fetch quests in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Bringing its own polished, relatable spin to the surrealist folk horror genre, Hellbender is a brutal examination of mother-daughter relationships, focused on Izzy (Zelda Adams) and her mother (Toby Poser), who live an isolated life in the woods for several (mainly witchy) reasons. Plus, they play hellish songs in their punk band together. But as Izzy branches out and meets Amber (Lulu Adams) and some fellow teens, the power dynamic shifts between the pair, and Izzy begins to rebel in more, uh, gruesome ways than other teens might. Hellbender is a truly unique, slow-burn, feminist fable with powerful performances, jaw-dropping cinematography, and a killer soundtrack. — S.C.
How to watch: Hellbender is now streaming on Shudder.
Credit: Amazon Studios
The mesmerizing imagery and water hypnosis simulations in Nanny may distract you from the fact that you’re watching a thriller. But the shocking ending will snap you back to the melancholic reality that director/producer Nikyatu Jusu’s film effortlessly radiates. Senegalese immigrant and nanny Aisha (the riveting Anna Diop) struggles with vivid visions in the claustrophobic New York household created by her employers (Michelle Monaghan and Morgan Spector) — a pair whose marriage could use a bit of professional counseling, to put it lightly. The film’s slow-paced tempo against a backdrop of abrupt and explosive mental displacement, from light overhead sprinkles to bedroom floods, creates a unique viewing experience impossible to compare to any other horror. — K.M.
How to watch: Nanny is streaming on Prime Video from Dec. 16.
Credit: 20th Century Studios
The beauty of Barbarian is that it’s one of those rare movies during which you think you know what’s going on, but then quickly realize you don’t have a single clue. From director Zach Cregger, this freaky film starts off simple: A young woman (Georgina Campbell) and a young man (Bill Skarsgård) accidentally end up in the same Airbnb on a dark and stormy night. Like many people watching Barbarian, I quickly began yelling “GET OUT” the second Skarsgård flashed his notoriously creepy Pennywise smile. But there is much more to Barbarian’s actual horror. The internet’s done a great job of not spoiling the big elephant in Barbarian’s basement, where things get wild in such an unimaginable way you’ll question whether or not it’s the same movie you started with. From its whirlwind final act to its incredible Final Girl, Barbarian is a bombastic horror story that’ll leave you with a lingering “I can’t believe that just happened” feeling creeping up your spine. — Y.H.
How to watch: Barbarian is now streaming on HBO Max.
Credit: Erik Chakeen / A24
Channeling the frenzied fun of the party game for which it’s named, Bodies Bodies Bodies blends twisted thrills with a take-no-prisoners sense of humor. Amid the backdrop of a hurricane party turned murder mystery, this slasher comedy offers a volatile batch of twentysomethings, who wield buzzwords like weapons while they battle for survival — and relish playing the victim. It’s wicked fun to watch the likes of Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Myha’la Herrold, Pete Davidson, and Lee Pace tear into each other with snarling enthusiasm. Yet amid the flashy lighting concepts, the TikTok influence, and an almost criminally hot cast, the best bit of this outrageous offering might be its, wild ending, which still has us drop-jawed. — K.P.
Credit: Yannis Drakoulidis / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
One of the best movies of the year, director Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All is a lush coming-of-age cannibal romance that gives us lots to sink our teeth into. Maren (Taylor Russell) is an “eater” living on the fringes of society, where she encounters fellow eaters, like drifter Lee (Timothée Chalamet) and creepy mentor wannabe Sully (Mark Rylance) — whose freaky performance alone is enough to secure Bones and All a spot on this list. Guadagnino and screenwriter David Kajganich, the team behind 2018’s Suspiria remake, don’t pull any punches on blood and guts and gore here. Scenes of teeth tugging flesh from the bone are terrifying and intimate in equal measure, with cannibalism mapping onto queerness and marginalization in a judgmental world. But it’s Russell’s quiet, self-assured performance that anchors the film. Maren’s journey to understand herself, paired with the film’s devastating ending, will stick in your bones long after the credits roll. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter
Credit: David Bukach
All hail Prey! This Predator prequel delivers an excellent blend of action and horror courtesy of director Dan Trachtenberg, easily cementing it as the best Predator flick since the original. The year is 1719, and a Predator terrorizes the Great Plains. However, this alien powerhouse will soon meet its match in aspiring Comanche hunter Naru, played with grit and determination by the tremendous Amber Midthunder. Between genuine scares and some of the most fun fight scenes of the year (looking at you, French trapper massacre), Prey gives us a heroine’s journey for the ages. Its dramatically different time and setting give a fresh spin on the Predator films, demonstrating that the franchise still has legs — thanks to creative reinvention, that is. — B.E.
How to watch: Prey is now streaming on Hulu.
Credit: Universal Pictures
As a follow-up to Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele makes his audience utter “Nope” from the very first unsettling moments of this exceptional supernatural sci-fi horror. And we love him for it. When strange night sky appearances rattle the owners of a Hollywood horse training ranch, siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) try to get answers with the help of electronic store tech expert Angel Torres (Brandon Perea). Our leads truly run the show as polar opposites, with Kaluuya generating genuinely hilarious moments in the terror through stoic deadpan commitment, while Palmer’s impeccably fun and chaotic energy balances it out. Steven Yeun’s brilliant turn as their neighbour, Ricky “Jupe” Park, a traumatized former child star and Wild West-style theme park owner, and Michael Wincott as revered “get the shot” cinematographer Antlers Holst, leads to some unforgettable sequences. Is it an alien superstar? You’ll have to set up your cameras to find out. — S.C.
How to watch: Nope is now streaming on Peacock.