Dread Central’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2022

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2022 568x320 - Dread Central's Top 10 Horror Movies of 2022

2022, what a year for horror. From franchise reboots to bonkers original horror storytelling, horror filmmakers didn’t come to play this year. This was the year that genre filmmaking hit a fascinating equilibrium between high-concept, grief-filled horror and high-camp, pure entertainment. We got the best of both worlds, as Miley Cyrus would say.

But even with a great year of horror, it was still a difficult year for many of us. We are still in the thick of a pandemic, and as much as we’d like to, we can’t go back to whatever normal was. As we continue to grapple with the terrors of our reality, horror was a respite. It was a place to either experience our grief in a controlled setting or forget our troubles if only for a little while.

With further ado, here are Dread Central’s top ten horror films of 2022.

10. The Backrooms

Yes, this short film from YouTuber Kane Pixels earns a spot on our top ten list because of the impact it had on 2022. Uploaded to YouTube on January 7, 2022, The Backrooms (Found Footage) shaped a year of digital horror. At nine minutes long, Kane Pixels took a well-known CreepyPasta and injected a fear of liminal spaces into the collective consciousness.

Liminal spaces are spaces that feel suspended out of time and place. They feel uncanny and eerie, unreal yet familiar in the most uncomfortable way possible. The Backrooms got a new generation of horror fans into the concept, with TikTok accounts and artists creating works inspired by what lurks in these terrifying spaces.

9. House of Darkness

Whenever I’m asked for a singular horror movie suggestion from 2022, my first recommendation is usually Neil LaBute’s intimate and eerie two-hander House of Darkness. Months before Justin Long became the official Scream King of the year with Barbarian, he graced this uncomfortably alluring horror movie that unfolds a lot like a work of tightly crafted theater.

Criminally under-discussed, this gothic shadow play should keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat from start to finish. A great deal of its success is owed to a lead performance by Kate Bosworth, who expertly fills the space with menace, and the direction by LaBute, who choreographs his leads with hypnotic ease. When push comes to shove, it’s somehow still a shock when the story takes its final few twists of the knife. — Josh Korngut

8. Piggy

Piggy is anchored by an exceptionally empathetic performance from star Laura Galán. Galán stars as Sara, a bullied, overweight girl in the Spanish countryside whose life is thrust into turmoil when, after suffering a particularly vicious attack, she witnesses a serial killer driving off with several of her tormentors. Torn between telling the truth and protecting herself, Sara’s life slowly unravels.

The pressure at home is waiting to burst, and not a single person in town—not the cute schoolboy, not even her own parents—is capable of seeing her as anything beyond means to an end. She exists as an idea, something to either torment or feel sorry for. As the blood spills, sticky and hot in the waning sun, Sara comes into her own. It’s a disturbing character study, one that both works on the surface genre level (Piggy is very, very scary) and as a profoundly humanistic experience. — Chad Collins

7. Watcher

Chloe Okuno’s Watcher is one of this century’s most disarmingly distressing fables of female fear. Maika Monroe turns in a career-best performance as Julia, a young woman who moves to Bucharest with her fiancé. Ambling about in her early days, often looking out the enormous picture window in their shared loft, Julia suspects someone has been watching her. With suffocating tension, slowly gestating violence, and an overwhelmingly austere, matter-of-fact filmmaking approach, Watcher succeeds both as scary cinema and a capsule of horrifying lived experiences. — Chad Collins

6. X

Ti West’s first entry in what we now know to be a horror trilogy absolutely rocked my world when I saw an early screening last February. Sexy and swampy, this sleazy ode to the grindhouse era isn’t afraid to go there, daring you to ask yourself why you are so grossed out at the thought of an elderly couple making love while supple starlets do much dirtier deeds in broad daylight. And don’t even get me started on Mia Goth’s performance(s) in both this and Pearl—what a fuckin’ star! —Emily Gagne

5. Bones and All

Bones and All feels like a film that came from the same director that made Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria. Luca Guadagnigno has proven that he’s a master of the craft, and the story of two runaways cursed with an insatiable hunger plays to the director’s strengths beautifully.

Known as Eaters (NOT cannibals), Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothée Chalamet) find each other on the road to nowhere. They encounter strange characters on their travels, introduced in a classic road trip structure. The search to locate more of their kind just makes them both gravitate toward each other even more. They don’t need anyone and eventually consume each other, bones and all. This is one of the most striking films of the year. It’s underseen and deserves your attention. — Drew Tinnin

4. Orphan: First Kill

This prequel isn’t trying to be anything other than over-the-top fun and I love it for that. I enjoyed it far more than the first because this wasn’t the story I was expecting and I was pleasantly surprised at that. I was prepared for a rehash and this is anything but. 

The way that Julia Stiles delivers her third-act dialogue really made the film for me. There’s an authenticity present that you often don’t often see with the type of character she plays. But I think she nails it. Stiles knows precisely what type of film she is in and her performance is perfect in that sense. This follow-up effort improves upon the original by recognizing how outlandish the premise is and really reveling in that. Additionally, the film makes the best use of the song ‘Maniac’ since Flashdance. Tyler Doupé

3. Scream

It seems to me that horror fans have become somewhat exhausted by the recent Blumhouse Halloween trilogy. Heavy as concrete and equally self-serious, these otherwise adequate legacy films made space for a fifth Scream release to do what the franchise does best: refresh the system. 

Nasty and a little mean-spirited, Scream (2022) still brought much-needed levity and fun into the nostalgia space. While its script is often clunky, an outstanding cast and breakneck pacing make for a Ghostface entry that I’m grateful for. Keep an eye out for my favorite kill of the year taking place in broad, unabashed daylight. In line with the underrated Scream 4, the fifth film is a delightfully gory hybrid of YA and hard R. — Josh Korngut

2. Nope

Horse trainers make an unsettling discovery on their ranch. Jordan Peele has entered his Steven Spielberg era, and it’s just as good as his Alfred Hitchcock era. He also brought along Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun, and introduced us to our new favorite Brandon Perea. I have spent hours, maybe days, discussing how this movie is high art and what Jean Jacket represents. I feel I will be doing this for years to come, and I’m happy to do it. — Sharai Bohannon

1. Barbarian

Zach Cregger’s Barbarian has rightfully earned the top spot on this list. Almost every staff writer and editor at Dread Central had Barbarian on their list, and for good reason. It was the biggest surprise of the year, full stop. With marketing that told us next to nothing except it starred Georgina Campbell, Justin Long, and Bill Skarsgard. It was a film that many approached with apprehension and skepticism. But what we got was a gonzo and absolutely bizarre take on the “something is wrong with this house” trope. From Justin Long getting breastfed by the internet’s new mother to a man getting beaten with his own arm, Barbarian really said, “Surprise, bitch.”

Often likened to Malignant in terms of its balls-to-the-wall attitude, Barbarianstands on its own as a horror film that needs to be experienced to be truly understood. Also, it marks the return of Scream King Justin Long. For that, I know many of us are thankful. — Mary Beth McAndrews

Tags: Barbarian Bones And All House of Darkness Nope Orphan: First Kill Piggy Scream The Backrooms watcher
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