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A line we keep repeating here over and over again is “2022 was a great year for horror movies.” There’s a reason for that: it was. If you take a look at our Best Horror Movies of 2022, According to Metacritic piece, you’ll see 10 movies from this past year that are critically-acclaimed, and each one of them is now in the best 100 horror movies of all time. That’s quite the accomplishment.
However, the staff here at GameSpot has some differing opinions compared to the review aggregate Metacritic list. Again, it’s a great year for horror, a varied year for horror, and a year that produced a ton of horror content.
So going through the past year of scary-flicks, we found the 10 best horror movies of the past year. From spooky ghosts terrorizing livestreamers to a familiar masked-slasher killing teens, there’s a large variety here for the genre. Hopefully, you’ll find some movies here that you haven’t seen yet and will want to check out.
This list is dedicated to longtime GameSpot entertainment writer Dan Auty, who passed away earlier this year. Since the start of the entertainment section of GS, Dan has been here, often talking and writing about his love for horror movies. Typically, he’s covered our end of the year horror movie round-ups and was a driving force behind a lot of the content during “Spooky season.”
Not a day goes by that the we don’t think about Dan or miss him. And just to share what we consider a very funny story, in the days before his passing, and we knew what was coming, Chris E. Hayner and I (Mat Elfring) talked to Dan and convinced him to watch Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre–a truly terrible movie. He knew it wasn’t going to be a good film, by any stretch of the imagination, but Dan was always game to try and watch something silly. While he did actually watch the movie before his passing, we never got to hear his thoughts about it. We have to believe he found a way to enjoy it, though, as Dan was always in good spirits and loved a crappy flick. We love ya, Dan.
Now, let’s talk about some good horror movies.
Before this year, there had been six movies that included the Predator aliens. However, it’s a huge mixed bag with 1987’s Predator and 2010’s Predators being the only two fans considered to be “good.” That was until 2022, when Prey released on Hulu. Without the Predator branding, and the stigma–one that’s slowly going away–of a major franchise being released directly to streaming, many people didn’t have their hopes up for the movie. Yet, when it was released, they were blown away.
Following a Comanche tracker and hunter Naru (Amber Midthunder), this prequel film–it’s not really a prequel, just marketed as one–takes place 300 years ago on the Great Plains as Naru is tracking a Predator–one that’s tracking her back. What Prey delivers is a Predator movie that’s reminiscent of all the things in the franchise we love: hunters taking down prey, cool sci-fi aliens, out-of-this-world weapons, and bombastic action sequences.
Midthunder’s character shines in the role and is one of best protagonists in the Predator series–probably right behind Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch from the first film. While this is a movie about Naru on a journey to find this elusive alien, the film felt bigger than it actually was. It was a smaller-scope story with limited sets that never felt restrained. Between this and 10 Cloverfield Lane, director Dan Trachtenberg has made a great name for himself. — Mat Elfring
Prior to 2022, writer/director Zach Cregger was known for his work in the sketch comedy show The Whitest Kids You Know. Now, that’s been completely overshadowed by Barbarian, one of the best movies of the year. 2022 was a huge year for horror. Look at the rest of this list, as there are multiple horror movies on it, and there are plenty more films that easily could have been in the top 10.
As for Barbarian, it’s best to know as little as possible going into it. It stars Georgina Campbell as Tess, a woman who is interviewing for a job in Detroit and gets an AirBnB in a rundown neighborhood. She arrives and finds it’s been double-booked by a man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård). And that’s all we’ll say about the plot because that’s the first few minutes of the movie, and it goes in wild directions from there.
Barbarian is a movie that will constantly have you screaming, “What the f*** is happening?” multiple times during the viewing. It takes you in so many unexpected directions, and yet, is incredibly easy to follow and digest, two elements of horror movies that aren’t mutually exclusive. Barbarian is a triumph for presenting an audience with a story that’s exceptionally familiar while surprising us at every corner. — Mat Elfring
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Us was the surprise none of us knew we needed this year. No, it’s not a surprise that Peele made a fantastic film. What is surprising, though, is that he took his talent for weaving in social commentary into horror films and applied it to an entirely new genre. Nope is a sci-fi movie through and through. But it also speaks to exploitation–especially in Hollywood–and how that can lead those being exploited to chase a level of spectacle as long as they possibly can, eager to keep hold of any notoriety that may keep them afloat in the future.
Using the fact that the first-ever movie was a collection of images of a Black man riding a horse, Nope paints a picture of a Black family with a deep Hollywood history being left in the dust, as digital imagery takes over. With their family business dwindling and the legacy of their ancestors becoming all but forgotten, the situation becomes dire for the Haywood family, who simply don’t want to be erased from the medium their family has served and sacrificed for over generations. — Chris E. Hayner
2022 was a great year for the writer/director team of Vanessa and Joseph Winter and actor Melanie Stone. The trio worked on two major projects this year, one of which being the story “To Hell and Back” from V/H/S/99, and the other being the found footage horror comedy Deadstream.
Comedy and horror can blend together incredibly well when you’re laughing with the movie, not just at it. Deadstream has both, as we’re laughing with the jokes and at the main character Shawn (Joesph Winter), a cringey internet personality who is trying to win back his followers by staying in a haunted house, which turns out to actually be haunted–featuring some great work by Melanie Stone as the ghost.
Deadstream is incredibly silly and at times, it has a few jump scares. 2022 was overpowered with great films that took themselves very seriously, so Deadstream ended up being a simple and really fun compliment to the year which stood out because it included humor. — Mat Elfring
One of the biggest surprises of the year is the dawn of the incredibly inventive X franchise of horror movies. X, a slasher set on a Texas farm in the ’70s, mixed porn, murder, and a long list of tried and true horror troped into one of the best original horror films in ages. It’s not a sequel, a reboot, or a reimagining. Instead, it introduced brand-new characters in a movie that stands out from the crowd.
Even better, it was just the beginning. What we learned after is that right after X finished filming, a prequel was shot that became the truly remarkable Pearl–a film about the old woman on the farm and how she became, well, the monster we meet in the first movie. And now, a sequel is in the works about the final girl from X. This franchise is a spotlight shining on Mia Goth, the actress at the center of each of the movies, and we’re all better off for it. — Chris E. Hayner
Pearl was one of the biggest surprises of the year because, well, who knew they made a prequel to X while filming X? Mia Goth’s performance as the titular farmgirl, first introduced as an old woman in X, is simply incredible. With a tragic life at home, we see Pearl unravel as she comes to terms with the fact that she’s doomed to live in her small town seemingly forever–and the violent turn she takes to cope with it.
The movie is highlighted by one of the absolute best monologues seen in a movie in years, in which her desperation to escape finally comes to a head. It’s not often that we think about including horror in awards discussion, but the work done by Mia Goth in this film is certainly worthy of that kind of recognition. — Chris E. Hayner
No, we’re not talking about the Netflix series. We’re talking about the Chloe Okuno-directed horror movie that came out earlier this year. Starring Maika Monroe–who made waves starring in the horror phenomenon It Follows a few years prior–Watcher follows an American woman and her husband, as they move to Bucharest.
The woman spends a lot of time home alone and notices across the street–in another building–someone in the shadows has been watching her, just staring. She begins to feel followed wherever she goes and becomes more worried when there may be a connection to a serial killer.
Watcher is a movie about paranoia and always feeling at unease, along with being completely gaslit by those around you–two very typical tropes in horror. However, what sets this apart from others like it are the performances. Every word that comes out of Monroe’s mouth is believable, and yet, no one believes her, and this is exceptionally frustrating. On the other side of the coin, Burn Gorman gives the performance of his career. He is chilling, terrifying, and a perfect balance to what Monroe brings. — Mat Elfring
Director Scott Derrickson’s return to horror was an exceptionally successful one in 2022. Much like his previous work in Sinister and Deliver Us from Evil, Black Phone revolves around uncovering the truth and being confronted with atrocities. However, Black Phone had a much different approach than his other movies.
The film follows a young boy named Finney who is abducted by a villainous masked man named The Grabber (Ethan Hawke), and the boy is held captive in a basement with a mattress and a black phone that’s not plugged into anything. However, the phone rings and Finney soon finds that The Grabber’s former victims–who are all ghosts–are trying to help Finney escape. Black Phone is haunting because it’s a departure from what we typically see in movies like this, as we learn that the Grabber is far worse a person as the movie goes on. — Mat Elfring
Every Scream movie is a great Scream movie. That’s a rule that has yet to be broken, even with the franchise returning this year after being dormant for so long. The fifth movie in the series, which is simply titled “Scream” for some reason, introduced a new cast of heroes (victims) for Ghostface to take aim at with his knife and it was a real treat. The entire new cast was fantastic, the killer(s?) was revealed with a fun and unpredictable twist, and the stage has now been set for future films. In fact, Scream 6 comes out in 2023, with most of the surviving cast from the last movie (minus Neve Campbell) returning to do battle with Ghostface in New York City. We can’t wait. — Chris E. Hayner
There are very few directors out here doing it like David Cronenberg, and his latest, Crimes of the Future, is no exception. It’s a feverish, compact little horror-drama that’s simultaneously an elegant commentary on the state of things like health care and medical science while also focusing on exactly the kind of body horror and practical gore Cronenberg is famous for. It’s set in a world where medicine and technology have advanced so dramatically that human evolution is responding in kind, producing aberrations in people that cause them to do things like spontaneously generate new organs. Meanwhile, the near complete elimination of physical pain has allowed for things like “artistic” surgery to take the world by storm, allowing people to practice any manner of body modification, publicly or privately.
The story centers on a performance artist (Viggo Mortensen) who performs live surgery on himself to remove his new organs catching the attention of multiple extremist organizations who–actually, going into much more detail here would start spoiling things, so we’re just going to let you use your imagination for this one. Or better yet, steal your stomach and dive into it as blind as possible because if you’re a fan of gooey practical effects and Cronenberg’s trademark surreal style, this isn’t one to miss. — Mason Downey