The 15 best horror movies of 2022, ranked

The 15 best horror movies of 2022, ranked

It was a banner year for horror films, from Nope's extraterrestrial terror to Hellraiser's fresh take on hell to the insatiable cannibal hunger of Bones And All

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Clockwork from bottom left: Pearl (Screenshot: A24); Nope (Photo: Universal Pictures); Prey (Screenshot: Hulu); Bodies Bodies Bodies (Screenshot: A24); Hellraiser (Photo: Hulu)
Clockwork from bottom left: Pearl (Screenshot: A24); Nope (Photo: Universal Pictures); Prey (Screenshot: Hulu); Bodies Bodies Bodies (Screenshot: A24); Hellraiser (Photo: Hulu)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

It’s been a fantastic year for horror cinema, with veteran filmmakers returning for fresh stories and up-and-coming directors and writers challenging audiences with frightening new visions. Not only did we see the return of Pinhead, Ghostface and the Predator, but we also were gifted with a haunting view of cannibalism, a stop-motion masterpiece, and not one but two films set in an entirely new horror universe. Of course, in a year full of numerous new scary stories it wasn’t easy to narrow down our list. But rest assured that the 15 films that follow (along with some bonus honorable mention titles) are the best of the best for 2022 in the eyes of The A.V. Club.

Advertisement

2 / 18

15. Bodies Bodies Bodies

15. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Bodies Bodies Bodies | Official Trailer 2 HD | A24

Though often billed as a slasher, Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies actually takes the form of a darkly comic whodunit, as a group of young people try to avoid a killer in a sprawling mansion during a hurricane blackout. But while the scenes of darkened corridors which may or may not be stalked by a madman are certainly tense, the true horror in this laugh-out-loud thrill ride comes from watching a group of seemingly like-minded people slowly and savagely begin to eat their own in a spiral of scapegoats and secrets that just might get them all killed.

Advertisement

3 / 18

14. We’re All Going To The World’s Fair

14. We’re All Going To The World’s Fair

WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR Trailer (2022) | UTOPIA

The internet has been fertile ground for new horror stories for a long time, but no one’s ever done it quite like Jill Schoenbrun with We’re All Going To The World’s Fair. The story of a teenage girl (Anna Cobb) who descends into the darkest depths of an online game that becomes all too real, it’s a film that gets tremendous mileage out of a fierce central performance, a constantly eerie atmosphere, and the sense that we could all dig ourselves in this deep if we were simply willing to turn over the right digital rocks.

Advertisement

4 / 18

13. Nanny 

13. Nanny 

Nanny - Official Trailer | Prime Video

Driven by stunning work from star Anna Diop, director Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny is a remarkable blend of domestic horror, immigrant horror, and folk horror, all centered on the intimate story of a single woman’s desire to build a foundation for her family. Other forces in her life, however, have different ideas, and what follows is a beautifully realized, dread-filled blend of folklore, anxiety, and dreamlike terror.

Advertisement

5 / 18

12. Mad God

12. Mad God

Mad God - Official Trailer [HD] | A Shudder Original

Phil Tippett and his collaborators spent decades working on Mad God, and the results were well worth the wait. A dark, endlessly imaginative descent into a world of monsters, Mad God emerges as a masterwork from one of cinema’s greatest visual wizards. It’s a story told without dialogue and even without certain conventional narrative choices, but that doesn’t stop Tippett’s stop-motion visions of terror from worming themselves through your eyes and into your brain forever.

Advertisement

6 / 18

11. Resurrection

11. Resurrection

Resurrection - Official Trailer | HD | IFC Films

After triumphing last year with an incredible performance in The Night House, Rebecca Hall returned in 2022 to once again make the case that she might be the finest horror actress working right now. In Resurrection, Hall takes on the role of overprotective mother haunted by a figure from her past, and simply puts the film on her back. Writer/director Andrew Semans knows exactly when to push in on Hall’s searing visage, and when to pull back, and as an audience, we can never look away.

Advertisement

7 / 18

10. A Wounded Fawn

10. A Wounded Fawn

A Wounded Fawn - Official Trailer [HD] | A Shudder Original

Dark, dreamy, and laced with levels of mythic dread, Travis Stevens’ A Wounded Fawn begins as a serial killer story, then morphs into an exercise in pure psychological terror as the killer at the core of the story goes on a journey through his own mind. Every new scene brings with it something more nightmarish than the one before it, yet the film never loses an innate sense of raw, dreadful beauty.

Advertisement

8 / 18

9. Hellbender

9. Hellbender

Hellbender - Official Trailer [HD] | A Shudder Original

The moviemaking collective known as The Adams Family returned in 2022 with another low-budget horror story, and in the process gave us one of the best folk-horror films of the last decade. A mother-daughter story centered on secrets, rituals, and a frightening legacy, Hellbender will suck you in with its beautifully staged visuals and musical interludes, then bite your head off with its thrilling, wonderfully gruesome finale.

Advertisement

9 / 18

8. Hellraiser

8. Hellraiser

Hellraiser | Official Trailer | Hulu

For the first time in a long time, Hellraiser feels like Hellraiser again. The Night House director David Bruckner made sure of that, with a revitalization of the Clive Barker-created franchise centered on addiction, pleasure, and some of the most sumptuous horror visuals of 2022. Odessa A’zion and Jamie Clayton are fantastic in the leading role, the updated mythos works wonders for the depth of the story, and perhaps best of all, the film lays out a tremendous framework for even more stories to come.

Advertisement

10 / 18

7. Speak No Evil

7. Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil Trailer #1 (2022)

Two families meet on vacation and agree to stay in touch. When one visits the other, what starts as an awkward clash of cultures and traditions soon becomes something much more terrifying. With Speak No Evil, director Christian Tafdrup has crafted an alarming, genuinely unsettling piece of horror that’s so nerve-shattering it will leave you at a loss for days. This is the Feel Bad Movie of 2022.

Advertisement

11 / 18

6. Prey

6. Prey

Prey | Official Trailer | Hulu

At its core, the Predator franchise is about resourceful humans working to survive against the ultimate killing machine, and what is that premise if not great fodder for a slasher film? Featuring a terrific cast led by a tremendous Amber Midthunder performance and precise, thrilling direction from Dan Trachtenberg, Prey is both one of the year’s most enjoyable movie rides and one of its best horror stories. It’s an edge-of-your-seat movie that we’ll be rewatching for years.

Advertisement

12 / 18

5. Bones And All

5. Bones And All

BONES AND ALL | Theatrical Trailer

Luca Guadagnino’s story of two teenaged cannibals wandering through Reagan’s America, discovering their own tastes and connections along the way, is often as moving as it is frightening. Guadagnino coaxes stellar performances from both Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet, and balances out the raw emotion of their work with images of gore and depravity that are so matter-of-fact they almost feel like a strange anthropological document. It’s that rare film that will make your skin crawl and your heart wrench at the same time.

Advertisement

13 / 18

4. Barbarian

4. Barbarian

BARBARIAN | Official Trailer | In Theaters September 9

A strong contender for the year’s most pleasant box office surprise, Zach Cregger’s Barbarian works because it begins with familiar, relatable ideas about what we’re afraid of, then just keeps building on them until we as an audience are ground into submission. We all get being afraid of a strange man in our rental house, or a repairman with dark plans for us, or a Hollywood sleazeball with his back against the wall. But in the case of Barbarian, it’s always what happens next, the thing we never see coming, that’s more frightening, and that’s what makes this film one of the year’s best popcorn movie blasts.

Advertisement

14 / 18

2. (Tie) X

2. (Tie) X

X Trailer (2022)

Ti West’s return to horror with X was a welcome sight all by itself, a dazzling ode to 1970s slashers and DIY filmmaking featuring some of the year’s best kills and one of the 21st Century horror’s best villains so far. From the aspect ratio joke that opens the film to the delightfully gruesome climax, X both delivers the classic horror goods and tells a surprisingly affecting story about aging, loss, and violence.

Advertisement

15 / 18

2. (Tie) Pearl

2. (Tie) Pearl

Pearl | Official Trailer HD | A24

In the immediate aftermath of X’s acclaimed premiere, West and his collaborator Mia Goth revealed that they’d done it all again with Pearl, an origin story for X’s aged slasher which was somehow even more deranged and visually arresting than the first film. Like X, Pearl is a film about the price of creation, and how far one woman is willing to go to become her true self, but this time around things get a beautiful Golden Age of Hollywood spin, driven by an absolutely transcendent performance from Goth. Bring on MaXXXine.

Advertisement

16 / 18

1. NOPE

1. NOPE

NOPE | Official Trailer

No one else is making movies quite like Jordan Peele right now, and NOPE proves that we’ve only just begun to see what the director behind Get Out and Us can really do when he’s left free to roam the dark landscapes of his mind. NOPE is many things all at once. It’s an alien movie, a family saga, a neo-Western, a satirical look at Hollywood and the nature of content creation, and a dark descent into the cost of spectacle and the threat of being sucked into a machine designed to chew you up and spit you up. It’s all of those things, and yet none of those elements ever feel underserved in favor of a different theme or a different approach. Throw in the year’s single scariest scene and the most astonishing visuals of Peele’s career so far, and you’ve got a masterpiece.

Advertisement

17 / 18

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions

Clockwork from bottom left: Crimes Of The Future (Photo: Neon); Terrifier 2 (Photo: Cinedigm Entertainment Group); Orphan: First Kill (Photo: Paramount Players); and Scream (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
Clockwork from bottom left: Crimes Of The Future (Photo: Neon); Terrifier 2 (Photo: Cinedigm Entertainment Group); Orphan: First Kill (Photo: Paramount Players); and Scream (Photo: Paramount Pictures)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

As we’ve already noted, this year was a great one for horror films, and a list of 15 movies doesn’t begin to count them all. So, if you’re still hungry for more scares, check out these other wonderful 2022 releases: Crimes Of The Future, Deadstream, Fresh, Glorious, The Innocents, Master, The Menu, Orphan: First Kill, Piggy, Scream, Terrifier 2, Watcher, Wendell & Wild, You Won’t Be Alone.

Advertisement

18 / 18