2022 was a great year for horror movies. Scream started the year off well with its release in January, and a steady stream of entertaining fright flicks followed. Some of the movies we expected to be great, like The Black Phone and Nope, delivered on their already high expectations. And even though movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t quite live up to the hype, we still got a bunch of wonderful surprises with movies like X, Watcher, and The Sadness.
This list ranks the very best horror movies released in the year 2022, so if you missed anything, you know exactly what you need to add to your “must watch” list. For an expansive list of many of the scary movies coming out now and in the future, be sure to check our list of new and upcoming horror movies.
The Best Horror Movies of 2022, Ranked
38. The Invitation
The Invitation is a gothic romance with a with a twist. Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) is invited by the extended family she never knew she had to an extravagant wedding in Europe. Overwhelmed by the opulence of her new surroundings, Evie begins to fall for her rich, handsome, and charming host, Walter (Thomas Doherty). Everything is no as it seems though, and secrets are revealed that will change Evie’s life forever. Once the twist is revealed (which isn’t too hard to guess whether you’ve seen the trailer or not), the movie gets a bit silly. Even so, The Invitation is a fun movie with beautiful visuals and a solid cast.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a brutally violent and excessively gory slasher movie. The plot involves a group of idealistic young people who journey to the small town of Harlow, Texas in an attempt to gentrify the area, but they unfortunately picked the town Leatherface has been hiding in for decades. Leatherface is a solitary, unstoppable monster, which makes for a fun slasher movie, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel much of anything like the movie from 1974 it’s supposed to follow.
You Won’t Be Alone is a beautifully shot movie about what it means to be human, but those expecting a horror movie may be disappointed. Rather, writer/director Goran Stolevski’s film is an existential drama that uses supernatural horror archetypes (specifically, witches) as a means to tell a story about life. That said, there are certainly a number of dark moments throughout the film that will appeal to horror fans with an interest in a more arthouse style of film.
35. The Cursed
Director Sean Ellis brought a fresh spin on the mechanics of a werewolf movie in The Cursed. While the overall story of a mysterious beast plaguing a small town in the 1800s will feel familiar to anyone who has ever seen a classic werewolf film, the beast itself is approached in a unique way. To say how the werewolves in The Cursed operate would spoil the movie, and fans of beautifully shot horror with haunting imagery should give this movie a watch. The story isn’t entirely unpredictable, especially towards the end, but it’s still a solid horror film.
34. The Free Fall
Sarah (Andrea Londo) can’t remember her life before a violent tragedy and an apparent suicide attempt, but her husband Nick (Shawn Ashmore) is there to help in Sarah’s recovery. The problem is, it becomes increasingly obvious that Nick is hiding something from Sarah. To say too much would spoil the multiple reveals of this fun independent horror movie. The Free Fall has some twists that won’t satisfy everyone, but the interesting mystery and gory nightmare imagery Sarah endures in her (possibly) fractured mind make The Free Fall a standout indie horror movie.
It’s Terminator meets Silent Night, Deadly Night in this throwback-style slasher flick. During the night of Christmas Eve, a robotic Santa Claus designed by the US Department of Defense and used as a decoration in a toy store malfunctions. Now, instead of greeting customers, RoboSanta is on a mission to murder every person his laser-focused eyes come across. Christmas Bloody Christmas is goofy and certainly takes its time getting to the action, but it’s also a fun, bloody, and violent holiday horror movie worthy of a late-night watch during December.
32. See For Me
See For Me is a superb and scary thriller with a very interesting twist. Sophie is a blind young woman who is house-sitting when burglars, thinking the house is empty, break in. Sophie does her best to avoid trouble by sneaking through the unfamiliar house with the help of an online service that helps blind people “see” by connecting them with a live operator who uses a cell phone camera to help them navigate. It may sound like a gimmicky plot device, but it works surprisingly well in this home invasion thriller.
Glorious, from director Rebekah McKendry, is a cosmic, isolation-horror movie built upon a ridiculous premise: after a night of blackout drunkenness, a despondent man becomes trapped in a public bathroom with an unfathomable demigod who is hidden in a toilet stall. The man, Wes, converses with the entity, eventually believing the increasingly ludicrous scenario being described to him. To explain why Wes is trapped with a demigod would ruin much of the joy that comes from experiencing Glorious, but rest assured that this darkly funny movie contains a lot of blood, some nice twists, and plenty of eldritch-abomination-style goodness.
With plenty of twists and turns, The Pale Blue Eye is a fittingly gloomy for a gothic murder-mystery that contains allusions to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A cadet is found dead and with his heart cut out at the West Point military academy. Former detective Augustus Landor is recruited to quietly solve the murder, and Landor enlists the aid of a perceptive young cadet with a penchant for poetry. Fans of Poe, especially his mysteries, will likely find this fictionalized portrayal of the author’s time at West Point interesting, as will fans of dark tales of murder and revenge.
29. Halloween Ends
To say Halloween Ends is divisive is an understatement. As the finale of David Gordon Green’s Halloween requel trilogy, the movie attempts to tie up the Laurie Strode versus Michael Myers story while simultaneously completing the story arc of the intangible “evil” that exists in Haddonfield. The result is a movie that focuses on a new character, Corey, who enters the lives of Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Allyson (Andi Matichak) at a time when all three of them are in different stages of recovery over past traumas. The film works pretty well some ways, but doesn’t work very well at all in others. For a less-vague analysis, check out our full review.
Made in Spain by directors Raúl Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez, The Passenger is a fun monster mover that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ramiro Blas stars as Blasco, a braggart who works as a taxi driver in his old, beat-up van. When Blasco hits someone in the road during a night drive, he and his three female passengers becomes the target of a nasty extraterrestrial entity intent on possessing and/or murdering everyone it comes across. The Passenger is true genre filmmaking for those looking for some sci-fi schlock to watch.
Adult Swim, never content to do anything normally, released their first full-length horror movie as a complete surprise by hiding it within what was advertised as a simple yule log video. After the first few minutes of watched a crackling fireplace, viewers were then treated to a wacky horror comedy that goes in too many directions to describe in the space given here. The movie, revealed in the end credits to be titled The Fireplace, is a holiday movie with a curse, time travel, aliens, social commentary, backwoods killers, a cult, and maybe even the Devil. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s also really, really good.
While recovering from a traumatic experience involving her husband, Harper Marlowe (Jessie Buckley) rents an isolated house in a small village in England. Grief turns to dread as Harper encounters a series of similar-looking men who range from slightly annoying to imminently dangerous. Written and directed by Alex Garland (2014’s Ex Machina, and 2018’s Annihilation), Men is a surreal psychological horror movie loaded with gorgeous visual metaphors and a strong sense of foreboding.
In Crimes of the Future, auteur David Cronenberg manages to comment on politics and art in an unforgettable way. Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux star as Saul and Caprice, a duo of performance artists in the near future. Saul is one of many people in the future whose body mutates to grow extraneous organs, and Caprice performs surgery to cut out Saul’s new organs in front of live crowds. Saul and Caprice find themselves, their art, and their morals in the center of a struggle between government officials (including Timlin played by Kristen Stewart) and radical evolutionists in this body-horror movie that walks the line between an art film and a genre movie.
24. Mad God
Mad God is further proof that stop-motion animation is always creepy. The movie is beautifully grotesque, depicting a journey that descends further and further into a hellish world of death and decay. It is a supremely atmospheric and surreal experience that should be viewed by any fan of dark and strange things. Mad God was released on Shudder in June of 2022, and it quickly became one of the site’s most-watched premieres of the year.
Eerie and subtly disturbing, director David Bruckner’s Hellraiser gets one horror’s most recognizable yet under-watched franchises back on track. Featuring Jamie Clayton as the new Hell Priest (aka Pinhead), the movie is about a recovering drug addict, Riley (Odessa A’zion), who comes into possession of a puzzle box. Riley’s brother is taken away by the otherworldly Cenobites after she tries to solve the puzzle box, and her attempts to find out what she unleashed lead her and those around her down a soul-tearing path.
Hatching is a stylish horror film that blends elements from monster movies, family dramas, and psychological horror. The story focuses on Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), a young girl whose mother is intensely concerned with portraying the appearance of a perfect family for her online followers. One night Tinja discovers what appears to be a bird’s egg, and she cares for it as a way to relieve some of the incredible pressure put on her by her mother. However, the egg contains something Tinja doesn’t expect. Hatching is full of well placed metaphors, and it’s also a fun monster movie with some great special effects.
Elevated by a wonderful lead performance from Sosie Bacon, Smile is one of the best popcorn & jump-scare horror movies of the year. At its core, Smile is a “curse” movie along the lines of movies like It Follows (2014) and The Ring (2002). Rose Cotter (Bacon) is a therapist who, after witnessing a smiling patient commit suicide right in front of her, is increasingly tormented by an evil force that Rose discovers has affected multiple people in a direct line of succession. A layer of depth is added to the story by equating the curse with deep-seated trauma and guilt, but the ultimate focus of Smile is on fun and frights. Many of the jump-scares are extremely well done, and they build to a fittingly monstrous finale.
19. A Wounded Fawn
Striking in its visuals (it was shot on 16mm film) and surreal in its aesthetic, A Wounded Fawn is a revenge movie by way of a Greek theatre. Meredith (Sarah Lind), a woman getting back into dating after a bad relationship, accompanies Bruce (Josh Ruben) to his secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend getaway. Bruce, however, is a serial killer who is driven by dark forces inside his head. What begins as a nightmare scenario for Meredith is turned back onto Bruce as he is forced to come face-to-face with the pain he has caused others.
A social worker who can see ghosts is forced to face her own traumatic past in the chilling and emotional supernatural horror movie They Live in the Grey. Michelle Krusiec stars as Claire, a worker for Child Protective Services assigned to investigate a report of child abuse. She quickly learns that an otherworldly presence in the house may be the cause of the abuse, and Claire must decide if she can mentally handle this new case while dealing with her own shattered life and the constant fear she lives with. They Live in the Grey has some very effective scares in the tradition of movies like The Eye (2002) and The Sixth Sense (1999), and it has a wonderfully moving story brought to life by Michelle Krusiec.
18. The Black Phone
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) returned to his horror roots in 2022 with The Black Phone. Featuring Ethan Hawke in an unnerving performance as a child-abducting killer wearing a demon mask (though Black Phone is not about demons), The Black Phone is a tense film that weaves a supernatural story line into a movie about bullies, abuse, and family. Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw star as siblings Finney and Gwen, and they each have their own supernatural means of trying to free Finney from The Grabber’s grasp after Finney becomes the latest victim kidnapped by the masked maniac. This is a movie that pulls you in deeper and deeper as young Finney’s plight seems more and more hopeless.
17. Terrifier 2
Terrifier 2 is the most interesting horror success story of 2022. As a sequel to the small (and great) independent slasher movie Terrifier (2016), Terrifier 2 outperformed most people’s expectations. Terrifier 2 is brutally violent and, at times, comically gory, leading to online chatter of multiple people fainting and vomiting during theatrical screenings. That’s the best kind of advertising for a splatter flick, and Terrifier 2 rode the wave of notoriety to become a resounding success. At about 2 hours and 20 minutes, there’s a lot of Terrifier 2 to love. And, dare we say, could Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) be this generation’s Nancy Thompson and Freddy Krueger?
Resurrection is a psychological thriller about the debilitating and lasting effects of mental abuse. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a single mother with a successful career. Her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is approaching her 18th birthday and is getting ready to move away to college, but Rebecca’s life it thrown into disarray when David (Tim Roth), a man from Rebecca’s past, reenters her life. Resurrection takes some wild turns, but the performances from Hall and Roth ground it all in a believability that makes the entire movie excruciatingly tense.
15. The Menu
Featuring an all-star cast led by Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nicholas Hoult, The Menu is a wonderfully dark satirical thriller set the world of ultra-fine dining. Fiennes is Chef Slowik, an artist working in the medium of food. Slowik has twelve guests at his private restaurant on his private island, and he intends to give them the meal of their lives. The Menu may be about a deranged dinner service, but it’s really about so much more. Class divisions, respect, and the meaning of art and expression are just a few of the topics touched on in this fun and funny movie about a deadly dining experience.
If you go into Bodies Bodies Bodies expecting a straightforward horror movie, you might be disappointed. But if you’re looking for a fun social satire with great acting and an ultimately silly mystery, then you’ll have a good time here. Bodies Bodies Bodies is about a group of friends who gather together for a party at their rich friend’s mansion while a hurricane rages outside. One of the group is found dead, and the rest of the “friends” begin to turn on each other as they try to figure out who the killer is before any more bodies pile up.
High-school-aged Kaede sets off in search of her father after he disappears while searching for a serial killer in the Japanese crime thriller Missing. The movie features a truly diabolical killer who preys on people at their most vulnerable times in the lives, and though the movie may not be a full-fledged horror film, it does feature dark and disturbing moments. The story of Kaede’s search is told from three different perspectives, filling in blanks within the mystery as the movie unfolds. Part family drama and park serial-killer movie, Missing flew under the radar when it was released outside of Japan, but it should be on every thriller fan’s list of must-sees for 2022.
12. Studio 666
Drawing heavy inspiration from movies like Evil Dead II (1987), Studio 666 is an extremely gory and silly horror comedy. Starring the six members of the Foo Fighters as themselves, Studio 666 is about Dave Grohl becoming possessed by a demonic force and terrorizing his bandmates while recording a new album. Blood and body parts fly freely, and the jokes are plentiful in this movie tailor-made for fans of both horror movies and rock music. The movie also features Jenna Ortega, Whitney Cummings, Will Forte, John Carpenter, and Kerry King (the guitarist from Slayer).
Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) stars in Fresh as a young woman whose dating life takes a very dark turn. Noa (Edgar-Jones) is fed up with dating and is fine being single (really, she is), but meeting Steve (Sebastian Stan) changes her life forever. Noa is caught up in a whirlwind infatuation, but Steve has nasty plans for how their relationship will progress. Without giving away anything that the trailer doesn’t show, Steve’s plans involve a particular type of meat. Fresh is a stylish horror/thriller with some dark humor throughout.
Released on Netflix, Incantation is a found-footage horror movie from Taiwan. As the movie begins, it is presented as a video created by a mother, Li Ronan (Tsai Hsuan-yen), as a desperate effort for her to find help lifting a curse. Ronan is granted custody of her daughter after previously being declared mentally unfit to care for her child, but soon after taking her daughter home, dangerous and frightening supernatural activity begins to take hold of the young girl. The frights in Incantation range from creepy folk-horror to some familiar yet effective jump scares, and the movie has some nice twists and turns as the plot unfolds.
By taking the Predator franchise into the past, Prey creates a movie that reinvigorates the series with a “back to basics” approach. Set in the Great Plains during 1719, Prey follows Naru (Amber Midthunder), a Comanche woman who wants to prove that she can be a great hunter. When a Predator arrives from outer space, Naru is thrust into the hunt of her life as the alien monster makes trophies out of her people’s warriors and anyone else who falls within its laser-sights. Prey is an exhilarating action-horror movie with clever plotting that builds Naru’s story into an exciting, non-stop adventure that unfolds in a completely satisfying way.
Writer/director Jordan Peele created another thought-provoking hit with Nope. The story involves a brother and sister (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) whose father dies in an inexplicable accident. With the family business going under, they decide to document evidence of a UFO they’ve seen hovering around their isolated family home in an attempt to sell the footage for profit. As with Jordan Peele’s previous movies, Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), not everything is as it seems. Steven Yuen, Michael Wincott, and Keith David are also featured in this movie that has layers upon layers of meaning, while at the same time being a fun spectacle that works just as well as a science-fiction creature feature.
Scream was the first big horror hit of 2022. Released in January, Scream captured the collective imaginations of old and new fans alike by wonderfully honoring the legacy of the franchise while sending it in a new direction. Neve Campbell (Sidney), David Arquette (Dewey), and Courtney Cox (Gale) returned in support of a great new cast including Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera as sisters Tara and Sam Carpenter. If you’ve ever been a fan of a Scream movie and haven’t seen Scream (2022) yet, you should. It’s also a good jumping-on point for people new to the franchise.
Beautiful, emotional, and surprisingly scary, Bones and All is a coming-of-age road movie about two young cannibals finding love. Though the story crosses over into multiple genres, the film’s focus is strong. Taylor Russell plays Maren, a young woman with a complicated life and a compulsion to eat human flesh. While searching for answers about her past, Maren meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), another “eater” with a traumatic upbringing. They set out on the road together, forming a bond that may save them both.
For the second time in 2022, filmmaker Ti West and star Mia Goth teamed up to create a spectacular horror movie. Pearl tells the story of a pivotal point in the life of young Pearl (Mia Goth), the killer old woman first seen in X. Set in 1918, 61 years before the events of X, Pearl reveals that Pearl is the daughter of German immigrants living hard lives as Texas farmers. Pearl has dreams of becoming a famous film dancer, but her confidence isn’t shared by her severely strict mother. Mixing fantasy, psychological horror, and murder, Pearl is a fabulous tribute to the magic and horror of cinema that works as a fantastic companion to X. If X feels like it was inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), then Pearl feels like a cross between Psycho (1960) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) by way of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Barbarian is a movie that defies easy categorization, and to even attempt to place in a particular genre other than “horror” would do a disservice to people who haven’t experienced it yet. Barbarian stars Georgina Campbell as Tess Marshall, a woman traveling to Detroit for a job interview. Tess finds her rental house already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgård), but with Keith seeming nice enough, and with no other options available, Tess stays the night. Unfortunately, Tess soon discovers something sinister beneath the house… What follows is a wild ride that deserves to be seen completely unspoiled. Barbarian is tense, scary, funny, violent, gory, and gloriously unafraid of taking chances with some really wild twists.
In 2021, Chloe Okuno grabbed the attention of horror fans with the incredibly fun “Storm Drain” segment in V/H/S/94 (hail Raatma). Then in 2022, Okuno made her feature-length directorial debut with the incredibly tense and beautiful psychological horror movie Watcher. The movie is a slow-burn that follows Julia (Maika Monroe) as she deals with the accumulating psychological damage of being watched and stalked by a stranger while most of the people around her, including her husband Francis (Karl Glusman), downplay her emotions. Subtle yet intense, Watcher builds to an agonizingly scary finale.
2. The Sadness
Made in Taiwan by Canadian filmmaker Rob Jabbaz, The Sadness is a an incredibly violent and gory movie about a couple trying to reunite during an viral outbreak that is causing people to act on their darkest and most vile impulses. The heart of the story resides with Kat (Regina Lei) and her boyfriend Jim (Berant Zhu) as they try to survive long enough to meet up and escape the city after being separated from each other. However, the biggest draws of The Sadness are the practical gore effects and the film’s relentlessly mean and nasty aesthetic.
Ti West, writer and director of X, knows how to create the perfect balance between smart and trashy in a horror movie. X is a slasher movie set in Texas in 1979 about a group of young filmmakers making a porn movie in the guest house of a remote farmhouse. The house is owned by an elderly couple, and after the couple discover what is happening on their property, the film crew is in for a disturbingly violent night. X delivers lurid fun and thrills reminiscent of a 1970s exploitation movie, but it also spends time building all of the characters in smart ways so no one feels expendable. It’s very bloody and violent, but it also has heart and pathos. X is brilliant horror filmmaking.
In this section you’ll find horror movies from 2022 that are good and worth watching, but didn’t quite make our list of must-see title.
- The Cellar – Elisha Cuthbert returns to horror as a mother who searches for her daughter, and ends up discovering some cosmic horror inside her family’s home.
- Cyst – This is a gory and silly horror comedy about a mad doctor (Troll 2‘s George Hardy) who accidentally creates a monster that is basically a walking cyst.
- Dashcam – The lead character, played by Annie Hardy as an exaggerated version of herself, can be grating, but there is some nice found-footage fun to be had in this wacky movie by Rob Savage, the director and cowriter of Host (2020).
- Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Though it’s maybe not really a horror movie in the strictest sense, Sam Raimi’s horror-infused influence in this magical superhero flick is readily apparent.
- Firestarter – Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Zac Efron star in this update of Stephen King’s classic novel.
- Hellbender – This low-budget witchcraft movie follows a mother (Toby Poser) as she is forced to reveal a dark family secret to her daughter (Zelda Adams) when the daughter begins to feel power growing inside her.
- Master – Topical and supported by a powerful performance from Regina Hall, Master is a good movie that veers more into a drama by the final act rather than the supernatural/psychological horror movie the trailer and marketing suggests.
- Morbius – Jared Leto plays the living vampire Morbius from Marvel Comics in this action-horror adaptation that works as a fun diversion for superhero fans biding their time until Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
- No Exit – This is a twisty thriller in which a recovering drug addict stranded in a rest stop attempts to solve a kidnapping, not knowing who she can trust.
- The Seed – Three women on vacation encounter a dangerous alien being in this brightly colored sci-fi horror comedy.
- We’re All Going to the World’s Fair – From writer/director Jane Schoenbrun and starring Anna Cobb, this is a creepy, quiet horror movie for the internet generation. A lonely young woman takes part in an online horror challenge and finds herself changing in ways she can’t explain.