Happy End of 2022 everyone! Once again, the horror world delivered. We got some amazing original stories, some exciting additions to some of our favorite franchises and a ton of singular moments that had us on our feet cheering. This was a hard list to put together because there were simply too many things to celebrate this year. I couldn’t possibly include them all in one summary, but I promise you that I did my very best. Let’s get started!
Hellbender: Hellbender is 150% at the top of my list for 2022. A new film from the Adams crew is exciting in and of itself, but a new film from the Adams crew that is a witchy horror tale that also examines the complex dynamics of womanhood, mother-daughter relationships, and coming into one's own and I am in horror nerd heaven. I loved this film when I first watched it and every repeat viewing has me enjoying it a little bit more.
Hellraiser: David Bruckner's entry into the Hellraiser universe was never going to be for every horror fan, but it definitely worked for me. I really enjoyed the way he didn't try to tell the same story and sought to take all of elements that made Hellraiser what it is and to create something new with them. The new designs of the Cenobites were at once elegant and horrifying, and I really enjoyed the story that he decided to tell.
Orphan: First Kill: This was one of my most fun theatrical experiences of 2022. I immediately loved Orphan when it first came out. Weird, semi-melodrama horror has always been a sweet spot for me, and the story of an evil kid who secretly isn't actually a kid made me positively giddy. So, the idea of watching a prequel immediately sounded fun, but I had no idea just how fun it would be. There's the twist, of course. I loved how William Brent Bell and the writers were dedicated to not just telling the same story again and to go even further down the crazy rabbit hole. But the thing that made it so fun was the casting of Isabelle Fuhrman again and the old-school movie magic that came from that choice. It was so cool to watch her play Esther again, but even more cool was seeing her play Esther as an adult character (and as an adult actress). The choices that she made this time around could be different because she's coming at it from a different angle—as is the audience. We're all in on the joke this time. And the fact that sets had to be built larger to make Fuhrman look small and child-like, and sometimes a double was obviously swapped in, just made the whole experience fun. Not mind boggling, but FUN. And I adored that.
The Harbinger: This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. Not because I didn't expect it to be good, but more because it seemed to come out of nowhere and not nearly enough people are talking about it. So, if you haven't yet seen The Harbinger, I ask you to correct that as soon as humanly possible. It's a very unsettling story about nightmares breaking into the waking world and consuming the dreamer. The lines between dreams and reality blur, and the viewer is left with that same feeling of waking up and not fully being able to remember the dream they just had, but also not being 100% sure that they are fully awake again. It's very well made and very thought-provoking.
Barbarian: More movies where Justin Long pops up in the second act and is a total douchebag, please! This film exemplifies the fun of going into a movie and having absolutely no idea where the story is going to take you. The experience was an amazing surprise and endlessly entertaining. Well executed at every shocking turn!
Prey: The Predator franchise as a whole is a bit of a blind spot for me. I only watched the first film about a year ago, and though I saw a couple of the most recent entries, they didn't really stick with me. Prey changed that, becoming something different and phenomenally exciting. The story was tight and engaging, and Amber Midthunder absolutely slays as an action hero. And getting the opportunity to experience the story through the Comanche language dub was so special. I'm really hoping for a Blu-ray release of this one (please, Hulu?).
Ti West: After a long absence from features, 2022 saw the return of Ti West, one of my very favorite genre filmmakers. I love his stuff. The way he structures his stories has always struck me, both in the way he develops tension and in the way he allows specific details to come forward to the audience. And in 2022, we were blessed with not one but two Ti West films! And another one is on the way! How freaking lucky are we????? And even though there is an obvious overlap between X and Pearl, the films couldn't be more different. West crafts intricately different stories for each film, while still playing with the same core themes. And of course, Mia Goth is spellbinding in both.
Shudder: Shudder is once again killing it as the monster of all streaming services. Their programming remains top notch, with tons of older and underseen films, horror classics and new movies from emerging filmmakers. Every month is a new wealth of favorites. This year we got:
And once again, The Last Drive-In killed it this year! (Double Nosferatu! Popcorn! The Baby! Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker!). Amazing films with a good dose of film history to go along with them.
Cannibals: Apparently, cannibals are kind of hot right now. Not by intention, but sometimes the planets align and something emerges at the forefront of the zeitgeist. Sometimes it’s vampires, sometimes zombies, and in 2022, it was cannibals.
The Menu: I’m always up for an Eat the Rich movie, and The Menu offered exactly that—but in a way that was the complete opposite of what I had expected. I loved the humor, the twists, and the way this film kept surprising me at every turn. It was entertaining beyond belief, thought-provoking and extremely clever. Plus, I could watch Hong Chau talk about tortillas all day long.
When it comes to horror, 2022 was freaking epic. I haven’t even caught up with everything that I was excited to see, and the stuff that I did fall in love with is already begging for rewatches. And the creative forces show no signs of slowing down. If the current slate is any indication, 2023 is aiming to be just as exciting. Happy New Year to all of us horror fans, and I can’t wait to celebrate everything new and scary with you all in the months to come!