top of page

Craig's 15 Horror Tops of '22

Once again, January for me is a whirlwind of trying to catch up with all the Horrors I've missed throughout the previous year. It doesn't matter how many Movies or TV Shows I watch, there's always a plethora of quality viewing that I miss.

And even now, as I'm writing this article of My Top Horrors of 2022, I know there are still a bunch of films I've not managed to catch, but I feel I've watched enough to formulate a cohesive and good looking Top List.


BE WARNED - a lot of my reviews and their promotional pictures can be SPOILERVILLE.


So, in no particular order (I'm not a sadist!) here are the 15 TOPS that helped me get through 2022...


IT’S ALWAYS SOMEONE YOU KNOW.
Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town’s deadly past.

OK - yes, I'm also surprised this has made my Top. The film wasn't perfect, there are many things I could rip apart; but it was the return of GHOSTFACE and a (slightly lacklustre and short) reunion of Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley and Sidney Prescott!

I really feel that the new Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (V/H/S, Ready Or Not) were more cautiously concerned with wanting to make Wes Craven proud, and not detour too far from the aspects that made the original movie great. So whilst it felt like a less effective 'copycat', the respect and homage they paid was admirable, and alongside that they managed to create a new foundation for the upcoming sequel (and possible trilogy) which looks set to lay away any doubt that this was always meant to be a new starting point for the franchise.

The opening sequence alone, with the formidable Jenna Ortega (and what a year she has had!) is enough to certify and solidify this as part of my Tops of 2022.





 
THE FACE OF MADNESS RETURNS.
In this sequel, influencers looking to breathe new life into a Texas ghost town encounter Leatherface, an infamous killer who wears a mask of human skin.

We've all seen the previous entries, and we all know what we're here for - and I'm sure there's an agreement that low expectations and the Texas Chainsaw franchise go hand in hand.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Or #TCM50 as I like to refer to it as) is a fast paced, no holds barred brutal thrill ride with pretty exceptional gore set pieces. We're here for LeatherFace, and his savage presence viciously delivers with barbaric glee.


'Cancelled Bro' - BEST FUCKING SCENE!



Now I could discuss its problematic themes, weak plot points, inconsistent fabrics to the original source it's marketed to follow, but... this is a CHAINSAW movie, so what's the point? I mean... Texas Chainsaw The Next Generation anyone!?

But to touch on my most aggravated issue - Sally Hardesty - her character is completely mishandled and in a shocking turn of events, actually makes me admire and appreciate the writing behind H40 's Laurie Strode a bit more.

SideNote - #JusticeForAliceKrige - I was expecting a LeatherFace 2017 Lily Taylor kind of role - but she was unfortunately underused 😭


Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 is not interested in breaking new ground, but only delivering a mean-spirited, fun and grisly LeatherFace film. It was honestly difficult not to joyfully have a bloody good time.

TCM50 gave me some Wrong Turn 2021 meets H40 vibes and will be just as polarizing as both within the diverse Horror Community.


 


Frustrated by scrolling dating apps only to end up on lame, tedious dates, Noa takes a chance by giving her number to the awkwardly charming Steve after a produce-section meet-cute at the grocery store.

In amongst 2022's Slasher renaissance and Requel territory, it was pretty refreshing to be fed something new and original. Fresh is definitely the type of film I would watch on a date.

This captivating directorial debut from Mimi Cave was well executed with some solid performances, a very modern and sexy gloss to the cinematography and a great soundtrack to boot. Possibly even kicked off the 2022 tend of 'glorifying' cannibalism (Dahmer, Bones And All, Ethel Cain's Preacher's Daughter, Armie Hammer...)


Bridget Jones meets American Psycho by way of Hostel.

 
HE’S WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE.
A college freshman becomes obsessed with the previous owner of his school issued laptop, a webcam model whose last session may have ended in murder.

Exploited was definitely a sexy romp with much male nudity and kinky sex. An erotic horror/thriller with a refreshing amount of queerness, which I haven't seen outside of an LGBTQIA+ film festival.

The film has a sadistic killer kitted out in BDSM gear, some dodgy acting and some downright filthy and seductive neon.

I wasn't expecting the film to be anywhere near as good as it was, however, I definitely think it could have leaned more heavily into the Slasher elements, but regardless, it was a fun ride.


 
A young couple is pushed to the limits of sanity as they attempt to be reunited amid the chaos of a pandemic outbreak. The streets erupt into violence and depravity, as those infected are driven to enact in the most cruel and ghastly things imaginable.

The Sadness is hyped as the craziest and most gory movie to date... I mean... Not to the hardened Horror fan who's been obsessed with the genre for well over 3 decades... but, credit to the film, it's pretty batshit, and I loved it.


The story plays out like The Crazies meets James Herbert's 1975 novel The Fog, and from the moment the old woman in a bloody nightdress dumps a tray of boiling chip fat over a cafe owners head, the film is one demented scene after another.

It's a no holds barred vicious splatter-fest, of which is mostly practical FX 👏

But nothing we haven't seen before. One of the stand out scenes involving an eye just seems like a nasty homage to Zombie Flesh Eaters meets Cronenberg's Crash - but I'm not complaining!


The plot itself is lacking, and even though it tries, it does miss the emotional beats that Train to Busan encompassed, but it's a bloody good time for gorehounds!




 

THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE.
When a group of 20-somethings gets stuck at a remote mansion during a hurricane, a party game gone very, very wrong ends with a dead body on the ground and fake friends at every turn as they try to find the killer among them.

'Fuck off and DIE!'


Based on many negative reviews. I went into Bodies Bodies Bodies with super low expectations... and came out pleasantly surprised.


In fairness, most of the negativity seemed to be people bitching at how 'WOKE' the film was; such dumb-ass people completely missing the satirical point of it all 😂


Playing out a little like Scream meets Cluedo with a bunch of coked up Gen Z's and add a sprinkle of 2019's (god awful) Black Christmas. But unlike the latter, this film was in on the joke, knew its audience, and used similar ingredients but knew how to deliver on a hysterically fun level.


The sexy cast boasts a deplorable bunch of coked up assholes that you wanna see get killed; all running around fighting, bitching and blaming one another with hilarious paranoia and dire consequences.


Director Halina Reijn knows exactly what to do with the material, and who the target audience is, and the script is pleasantly sharp, dimwitted and has some fun and toxic dialogue spewing out of the rampant mouths of this group of supposed 'friends'.



There's a few eye rolling scenes, like the fight over the gun - but it wasn't Urban Legends 2 level dumb. But for the most part, I was laughing and enjoying.


And that end 'twist'? HILARIOUS. A Cult Classic in the works! 👏


 
SOME STAY FOR A NIGHT. SOME STAY FOR A WEEK. SOME NEVER LEAVE.
In town for a job interview, a young woman arrives at her Airbnb late at night only to find that it has been mistakenly double-booked and a strange man is already staying there. Against her better judgement, she decides to stay the night anyway, but soon discovers that there is much more to be afraid of in the house than the other house guest.

Going in blind definitely helps with embracing the madness of Barbarian.

The first act is a pretty solid and atmospheric creeper which makes the odd transition all the more baffling with contrasting cinematography and tone. Casting a known actor like Justin Long was a good choice and definitely helped ease the transition into the 2nd act.

Once I worked out what the film was trying to do with what seemed to be separate stories, I relaxed and went along for the ride, waiting for when these stories would all come crashing together; And boy, they did! The 3rd act was super fun and ridiculous and I loved it.


I think the overarching story was perhaps a little undercooked as we spent so much time getting to know different characters throughout the film, but that didn't detriment the final result too much as I spent most of the final act with my jaw on the floor.


In regards to an unexpected and bonkers modern horror, I'd compare this to Wan's Malignant, but it doesn't quite hit those heights of batshittery, but definitely belongs within that realm.


 
THERE’S ALWAYS BEEN SOMETHING WRONG WITH ESTHER.
After escaping from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Leena Klammer travels to America by impersonating Esther, the missing daughter of a wealthy family. But when her mask starts to slip, she is put against a mother who will protect her family from the murderous “child” at any cost.

She's back! A prequel no one was expecting. A prequel no one asked for. Yet here we are, and most people aren't mad about it.


This movie is so wild and crazy - possibly even more batshit than the original; but that all comes down to how self-aware it is; sometimes to its detriment and other times to hilarious extent.


And if you didn't think they could out twist the first movie... Just you wait. Completely unhinged and ridiculous, yet completely entertaining for all the right reasons.


Orphan: First Kill is a prime example of camp, serving high quality performances from Isabelle Fuhrman and Julia Stiles - they understood the assignment and delivered fierce and menacing performances with a cheeky glint in their eye and wry smile from the corner of their lipsticked lips.



 


UNLOCK YOUR FEARS.
A young woman struggling with addiction comes into possession of an ancient puzzle box, unaware that its purpose is to summon the Cenobites, a group of sadistic supernatural beings from another dimension.

When I read first that David Bruckner was directing the new Hellraiser, I knew we were in good hands; his previous film The Ritual was one of my favourites from 2017, and The Night House was a damn effective supernatural horror. Add in The L Word's Jamie Clayton to play the Hell Priest and I was officially excited.

I've needed to watch this film twice to fully comprehend my thoughts, and whilst it didn't meet my expectations I'd say this is a pretty solid horror movie and a Grade B respectful reimagining of a cult classic.


Hellraiser 2022 is a crazy, sexy, cool breath of fresh air to the troubled franchise, and Bruckner's aesthetic for this world is dark and gloomy. Clayton as the new 'Pinhead ' delivered a beautifully deadpan performance with a sensually dark voice and a rasp for daaaays! Her updated look for the Lead Cenobite was both sexy and macabre - however, at times I was too aware she was wearing a bodysuit. I think it needed some moisture, some dirt or an organic substance to give the suit more depth and life. I felt the same way about a few of the Cenobites - but regardless, these new designs were pretty darn ghoulish.

I thought the cast were great, and unlike other reviewers, I really liked Odessa A'zion as the main protagonist / final girl. The gay guys were cute, and when they were reading gothic literature to one another, my heart did swell - but a sweaty little fuck between them would have been more appreciated.

Roland Voight was a fun little character and definitely reminded me of Dr Channard from Hellbound - his reappearance in the 3rd Act was pretty gnarly and bleak. Loved it.

The cinematography at times was stunning and other times too dark; I wish Bruckner had incorporated some otherworldly colours into his gloomy aesthetic. I was a bit sad that there were a few off-screen kills, but I think that was Brucker trying to build up to the very effective scene with The Priest and Nora. From that point, they did deliver some gut-churning nastiness, but it was all very tame for a Hellraiser. This was very much a missionary position and I needed more hellish grotesqueness, and quite FRANKly, I needed some more BDSM and fetishism, all in the name of Clive Barker, of course.

Overall, I very much like this new world Bruckner has created, and now that he's laid the groundwork, I'm very keen to see a sequel in the hopes he will follow the footsteps of Hellbound, and just go batshit crazy and fucked up. I can live in hope.


 
DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE ONE YOU LOVE?
Ruth and Harry decide to take a romantic backpacking trip through the Pacific Northwest, but amongst the beautiful scenery, Ruth makes an unexpected discovery that sets her off on a strange, frightening new path. The couple aren’t alone in the woods, and they might not be the same when they come out…if they come out.

Significant Other was definitely a fun little surprise. It goes to some whacky and unexpected places, constantly twisting the narrative, which definitely kept me on my toes.

I kinda assumed I was in for a retelling of Body Snatchers, and whilst that may still be in case, it kept switching up what I was anticipating, which is honestly, the charm and entertainment factor of this little gem of a movie.


Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy were brilliant, and their acting really helped ground the film as it kept getting crazier, and Lacy definitely brought the humour at the (in)appropriate times, helping ease the tonal shifts between shocks and surprises.

The only downfall would be that I thought the film ended too quickly, but I'm more than game for a sequel!


 

X

DYING TO SHOW YOU A GOOD TIME.
In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.

In all honesty, my first viewing of X disappointed me. I absolutely loved the Texas Chainsaw vibe, but when you're expecting a film to be one thing and it turns out very differently, it can sometimes mess with ones expectations and opinions. When the plot finally revealed itself, I was pretty underwhelmed by the unhinged story of geriatric psychopathical sexual desire, and yet, on second viewing, that's precisely what I loved about it. Once I knew where the film had gone, I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. The power of watching a movie for the second time is mind blowing.

I absolutely loved the homage to independent 70's cinema, the sleazy and downright nasty aesthetic, and of course, the buckets of gore. Death by alligator is always a win in my book.

The whole cast are fantastic, especially the ladies; I honestly enjoyed every single character and what they brought to the table. Jenna Ortega continuing her reign of 2022, Brittany Snow; surely she's a registered Scream Queen by now (Prom Night, Would you Rather)? And Mia Goth... I mean, what can be said of this incredible power house! Playing Maxine AND Pearl was mind-blowing enough, but what she goes on to do after X... Wow.

I think this is the type of film that will keep getting better with each watch. And I would definitely Double Feature it with PEARL.

 
THE X-TRAORDINARY ORIGIN STORY.
Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl’s ambitions, temptations, and repressions all collide, in the stunning, technicolor-inspired origin story of X’s iconic villain.

Pearl - Just Wow. This fantastical movie veers away from what mainstream audiences probably expected (not that I would say Ti West is the kind of Director for the mainstream anyway!) and leans more into the cinephile area; but unexpectedly seems to be universally liked.

Technicolor delights, Oscar worthy monologues, Mia Goth, Mia Goth, #MiaGoth 🖤 (Fuck you Awards season for once again ignoring the power of the Horror genre!)

One would think this was going to be a cash in slasher sequel to X, but nothing could be further from the truth! A unique character study of Pearl's descent into derangement with sympathetic and compassionate understanding of how this character became that complex and layered sex-crazed gore hound that we see in X.


I'm now very much excited to see MaXXXine and I love how Ti West and Mia Goth have been working together on these films (they wrote Pearl together whilst quarantining in a hotel for 2 weeks before the filming of X began) - THIS is how you create and assemble a trilogy; through the passion of screenwriting and filmmaking, for the fans, for the cinephiles and not just to make money (cough Halloween cough).


 

Abandoned by her father, a young woman named Maren embarks on a thousand-mile odyssey through the backroads of America where she meets Lee, a disenfranchised drifter. But despite their best efforts, all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and to a final stand that will determine whether their love can survive their otherness.

I dried off in front of you!


A road trip / coming of age / sexual awakening / addiction / cannibalistic romance horror movie that is beautifully shot with a stunning score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Bones And All emits this haunting, gothic midwestern vibe with stand out performances from all the cast; even the sideline characters played by Jessica Harper (Suspiria) and Chloe Sevigny (AHS Asylum).


The absorbing odyssey sees Maren and Lee, drifting along the fringe of society, forming an alluring connection due to their proclivities and addiction to consuming humans. What I wasn't expecting was how the story expanded into the two meeting many others like them; fusing an idea of a dystopian future filled with 'Eaters'.

Although slow, I did rather fall in love with this film, however the weakest part of the story for me, is the relationship between Maren and Lee. Apart from their necessary connection due to their appetites, their love story lacked depth (and a sex scene); but I very much enjoyed the surrounding elements to the story, especially the character of Sully. He was downright creeeepy and for some reason reminded me of Rose the Hat from Dr Sleep.

The last act built up quite well, but ultimately kinda flatlined; however I did get swept away with the allure and wanting to see Maren eat every single morsel of Lee... I mean - it's supposed to be Bones And All.

Badlands meets Raw with a twinkle of Twilight.

 
In the late 19th century, a brutal land baron slaughters a Roma clan, unleashing a curse on his family and village. In the days that follow, the townspeople are plagued by nightmares, the baron’s son goes missing, and a boy is found murdered. The locals suspect a wild animal, but a visiting pathologist warns of a more sinister presence lurking in the woods.

I will admit, I avoided The Cursed since its release for fears it would be a slow slog; and yes, whilst the film is rather sedate, I did feel quite enamoured by it. So much so it's made my Top list!


Maybe it was the 19th Century Gothic setting, the haunting score and gorgeous cinematography, or maybe it was the unsettling dream sequences or the supernatural and creepy scarecrow before things went wolfen-like?

Maybe it was the original flare of how lycanthropes are presented within this particular cursed lore - or maybe it was all that and more.


An unconventional monster story that I believe could have bitten deeper into that originality, adding more practical FX and far less CGI, but I'd rather see something unique and flawed more so than a simple movie regurgitating a story as old as time.


 
WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?
After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to Miles County where he must hunt down and destroy a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night. As the body count rises, the siblings fight to stay alive while uncovering the true nature of Art’s evil intent.

Director Damien Leone, alongside phenomenal physical Actor David Howard Thornton have created an (almost) instant icon with Art The Clown. One of the most gnarly and depraved horror icons we have been graced with since (in my opinion) Victor Crowley of the Hatchet franchise. The way Thornton switches between darkly humorous to murderous rampage is an art form within itself.

We all have our favourite monsters from Freddy to Pennywise; but they've been around for decades and it's been a long time since we've been graced with an original and new horror legend; one that's even made the gruesome transition from indie horror to mainstream. Don't get my wrong, the Terrifier franchise is still very much independent, the filmmakers themselves ushered Art into theatres without a major studio or any marketing apart from word of mouth and the film domestically grossed over $10 Million! That's damn unprecedented for an independent horror movie, and even more crazy is that from word of mouth, a load of horror articles and even tabloid media postings, EVERYONE and their Grandma seem to have heard of Art The Clown (or the movie in the cinema that's making people faint and vomit).

I will say, the film is too damn long! But I get it, Leone had a vision, there's no major studio or producer to stick their oar in, but I think some artistic but brutal editing needed to happen.

Apart from that, I absolutely loved the movie. Insanely gruesome with some macabrely repulsive and distressing set pieces. Art The Clown is having the time of his life with his relentless and demented pursuit of Final Girl, Sienna. And just like Leone created one hell of a new horror icon, in Terrifier 2 he has also created one of the most epic and kickass Final Girls in a long time, played by the formidable Lauren LaVera.


Some of the supernatural elements and story threads connecting Art to (possibly) Sienna's father are a little murky, but I'm sure all will be explained in the upcoming Terrifier 3.



 

And that's it kiddies - my Top Horror Movies of 2022.

But it doesn't end there! 2022 was a pretty ferocious year for Horror, we have been graced with so much, from Hollywood to Indie to Foreign. We've had remakes, sequels, requels and more importantly, a lot of original Horror.

So here are my Top 10 Honourable Mentions that I'd recommend checking out -


Craig Fisher - Come FOLLOW ME on Letterboxd as I make my way through the HORRORS OF 2022 - FisherFilms82





Comments


bottom of page