The 5 Best Horror Movies of 2022 – The Escapist

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This has been a great year for movies. With more films returning to movie theaters before coming to streaming or VOD, there have been big releases just about every month. While I skipped Top Gun and anything related to Marvel, I saw a lot of great movies this year. It’s particularly been an awesome year for horror, especially horror that’s a little bit off the box-office beaten path. While lots of horror fans were looking forward to Halloween Ends only to face severe disappointment, there were tons of great indie horror film releases. I could write about the merits of a dozen horror movies that came out in 2022, but I’ll keep it simple and tell you about some of the best, my top five. If you missed any of these, they’re all streaming or rentable now!
Alex Garland
Let’s start with Men. Some might say that this one doesn’t belong on a list of horror movies; it’s as much a thriller as it is a horror film, and that’s okay with me. It’s an absolute nightmare — I left the theater wondering if writer / director Alex Garland was indeed trying to give us a nightmare, a full-on fever dream. It starts with Harper (Jessie Buckley) renting herself a beautiful English estate in the countryside for a bit of a getaway, a respite from her recent troubles. She barely has a moment to relax, though, before men — the obvious problem and antagonist of the film — get in the way. Rory Kinnear is fantastic as the men in question.
Full of allegory and symbolism for the sort of things women put up with from men, day in and day out, Men barely scratches the surface of the misogyny it’s attempting to examine, (A film can only accomplish so much in 100 minutes.) but it’s a beautiful, almost mesmerizing watch. Men is a movie I saw in theaters this year that had people jumping, squirming, and saying, “What the f***?!” — what more can you really want from a horror movie? The score is great, the cinematography is beautiful, and the ending is just phenomenal. I will say — it’s the only A24 movie to make my best horror list for 2022, and it’s a very A24 movie. I warned you!
top 5 best horror movies of 2022 - Men Resurrection Fresh Barbarian Sissy
If you want to have a double-feature date night, might I suggest having your boyfriend over for a viewing of Men, followed by Resurrection? Jokes aside, this movie blew me away. Rebecca Hall is Margaret, a successful single mother whose life appears completely put together. When an abusive man from her past appears, Margaret’s curated existence begins to crumble, as she struggles to keep herself and her daughter safe.
What happens to Margaret after seeing David (Tim Roth) may or may not be in her head, but what we do know is that Margaret is going to be completely unraveled by her unresolved traumas. She had managed to keep her horrific past buried, but by never allowing herself to heal, there is still something inside her that threatens her sanity. Rebecca Hall’s performance is perfect; she delivers an eight-minute, single-shot monologue that is absolutely chilling. It’s one of the best performances of the year.
While Resurrection would be worth watching for Rebecca Hall’s performance alone, the craftsmanship and acting from all involved create an unnerving and tense film from start to finish. This is an incredible feature from writer / director Andrew Semans, his first film since 2012. With the performances that drive it, Resurrection is emotional and visceral, psychological horror at its absolute finest. And the ending!
top 5 best horror movies of 2022 - Men Resurrection Fresh Barbarian Sissy
Fresh was a straight-to-Hulu release that came out in March 2022 after its premiere at Sundance, so unfortunately I did not have the chance to see this one in the theater. Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) meets Steve (Sebastian Stan) at a grocery store. The adorable stuff of rom-com dreams, the answer to her online dating problems — so she thinks. After a 40-minute intro with a surprising title cut, Fresh dives into the heart of the matter: Steve is holding Noa captive because he is going to eat her. This is the best cannibal movie of the year (all shade intended to Bones and All).
Fresh is funny and tense; it’s a great twist on your standard captivity / escape movie. Visually, Fresh is full of references to other horror films, which is really fun, and the cinematography from Pawel Pogorzelski (Midsommar, Hereditary) is excellent. Daisy Edgar-Jones makes a great final girl, and I hope to see more of her in horror movies.
Are we noticing a theme yet? So many of the great horror movies of 2022 — including a few that didn’t make it to this best-of list, like A Wounded Fawn — deal with misogyny and the dangers women face at the hands of men. I could dive into an essay about this and the value of horror with a message, but ultimately what I like most about horror is that it can be really fun and funny. Fresh manages to deal with this topic in a hilarious way. The next one on my list does too, in a sense.
top 5 best horror movies of 2022 - Men Resurrection Fresh Barbarian Sissy
Barbarian was, without a doubt, the most fun movie I saw in theaters this year. (Smile was a close second.) I went into the theater having no idea what to expect from this one. Something about Airbnb horror? It’s probably too late at this point for anyone to go in blind to Barbarian, but the less you know, the better.
Barbarian gets weird, a lot weirder than I expected to see in a major studio release. Justin Long is great as an absolutely terrible person in this one; he’s always fun to watch in scream queen roles. Like lots of genre movies, Barbarian requires suspension of disbelief — just have fun with it.
Cecilia (Aisha Dee)
Cecilia (Aisha Dee) — aka Sissy — is a wellness influencer. Her life is a facade that’s put together for the benefit of her followers; really, she’s lonely, with a myriad of self-esteem issues and a messy personal life. When Sissy runs into her old friend Emma (played by writer / director Hannah Barlow), she hesitantly accepts an invitation to her engagement party, a little weekend getaway. Looking to reconnect with her friends, she’s disappointed that an old nemesis from middle school is also coming along for the trip. What happens from here is a wild ride.
Sissy is the funniest movie on this list, but to enjoy it, your sense of humor has to be open to some gore and violence. Sissy does not shy away from some pretty brutal kills and gore.
While the movie does provide a critique of online / influencer culture and bullying, mostly this Australian comedy horror is not that serious. It’s the most bonkers slasher I’ve seen in years, and with its small, queer cast, it’s a great deviation from most Hollywood horror.
Best horror movies aside, 2022 was definitely an exciting year for genre cinema — there were some pretty decent sci-fi releases too, both on TV and in film. I’m really excited about M3GAN, as if it lives up to the hype, 2023 will be off to a great start for horror. Hopefully Scream VI is a good follow-up to 2022’s Scream, which was fine but not top 10-worthy. My other most anticipated films? Oppenheimer and Barbie. We’ll see what happens, but hopefully 2023 is another prolific year for horror.


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