Mike’s Top 10 Horror Films of 2022

SO. MANY. GREAT. HORROR. FILMS. THIS. YEAR! Really. Our cups runneth over with gallons of blood, guts, and scares. Interestingly, 2022 also had some really awful films. Truly awful.

But we’re not here to talk about crappy films you don’t want to see. Au contraire. We’re here to tell YOU about the films that you’ll be gabbing about well in to 2024 — and beyond.

I predict some of these films may hold the test of time and even make a best of ALL TIME list. A stretch? Maybe.

Take in these horror frights — if you haven’t already — and prepare to be terrified, spooked, scintillated, and down right amazed. With out further ado, here’s the best the 2022 had to offer!

ATMOSfx! Woo!

1. The Black Phone. Directed by Scott Derrickson

🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

If jump scares are any indication of a horror film’s worth, this film made me jump clean out of my seat four-plus times (read: maybe five). When I wasn’t jumping out of my seat I had my hands firmly parked on my eyes and alternatively biting my nails. Jump scares, tension, and dread. All are here in equal parts. 

While this is a terrifying bit of business what makes the Black Phone so horrifying is the authenticity that director Scott Derrickson brings to the table. Exceptional set design, perfectly composed wardrobe for each and every cast member, a wonderfully memorable soundtrack, and perfect, yes perfect, casting. 

2. Men. Directed by Alex Garland.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.5 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

This might seem like a stretch, but you’ve never seen a film quite like 2022’s Men. Really. It’s in a pretty singular place in the world of psychedelic horror. Frankly, there’s nothing that really compares to this shocking bit of A24 business. Unless you count David Cronenberg’s 1979 classic the Brood as a contemporary — but that was 43 years ago. 

Men, directed by friend of horror, Alex Garland (28 Days Later and Annihilation) is exactly the film that 2022 needed, nay required. By managing to expertly weave through a minefield of trauma, sexual repression, male insecurity, and post-#metoo movement dynamics, Garland turns in one of the best horror films of the year. 

3. Satan’s Slaves. Directed by Joko Anwar.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.5 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

If 2022 had you a little jaundiced with reboots, sequels, prequels, and re-imaginations your feelings are not unwarranted. Let’s face it, Halloween Ends was confusing and largely devoid of Michael Myers. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was silly and uncooked. Hellraiser was pretty to look at, but became an unnecessary and boring reboot. 

Have no fear. The Indonesians are here to save us!

While Hollywood trundled around looking to reboot the perfect horror franchise the Indonesian horror community, and in particular the brilliant Joko Anwar, was developing the near perfect horror sequel…Satan’s Slaves: Communion. 

In 2017, Joko Anwar brought us another extra ordinary film in the first installment of Satan’s Slaves — ironically a remake of a 1980 version of the story. Largely following the same family from the first film, Satan’s Slaves: Communion takes place several years later in the mid-1980s. Rini (Tara Basro), her two brothers Bondi (Nasar Annuz) and Toni (Endy Arfian), and her father have managed to escape the wild and terrifying Satanic fertility cult and have found a quiet refuge in a massive prison-like concrete tenement apartment. 

4. Nope. Directed by Jordan Peele.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.5 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

The ultimate conceit in a UFO film is the UFO itself. Do you show it? Do you obscure it? Do you slowly tease it out throughout the course of the film? No matter your preference, the UFO and related space aliens have got to be exemplary. Crappy UFO and you’ve got yourself a crappy film. A great UFO? Well, you’ve entered the realm of Jordan Peele. 

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, but NOPE is a masterful cinematic undertaking that’s been undertaken by today’s most insightful director — who also happens to be at the top of his game. It’s rare to see a film like NOPE. One that’s operating on all cylinders and delivers in nearly every possible category. 

5. Archive 81. Created by Rebecca Sonnenshine.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.5 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

While it’s not rare for great TV to be produced in the new Golden Age of TV, it is rare for a TV show to balance complex emotional interpersonal dynamics and simultaneously deliver legitimate scares. Archive 81, produced by THE James Wan, is not a traditionally formulaic TV show in the same vein as the Jeffersons, Love Boat, or ER. Nor is it cram-packed with gaggle of too-pretty and wildly unbelievable Hollywood upstarts. 

Archive 81 is the best piece of horror that’s ever dropped on Netflix and rest assured we’ll be talking about this as one of the best things that 2022 will offer us. Yes, you heard that right. 

The eight-part series — based on a podcast of the same name — is a fascinating mixture of things you’ve seen before reconfigured in to a tale that’s never been quite told. 

There’s elements of last year’s Broadcast Signal Intrusion, a dash or two of Lost, hints at the wonderful Shudder podcast Video Palace, drippings of the Panos Cosmatos freakout Beyond the Black Rainbow, and there’s maybe even a nod or two to David Cronenberg’s Videodrome

6. X. Directed by Ti West.

🔪🔪🔪🔪 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

Ti West is getting back to horror! Hooray! When A24 released the trailer for director Ti West’s return to horror movies, X, they promised, “one goddamn fucked up horror picture” and boy did they deliver! Sadly, the prequel Pearl, did not. Stay tuned for a worst of year list coming soon. Just saying…

7. Swallowed. Directed by Carter Smith.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.5 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

Being a drug mule is the absolute worst. Mind you, this reviewer has never been a drug mule, but there’s a nagging feeling that muling drugs for miscreants, reprobates, and slackened dolts would be an awful time. The only thing worse than being a drug mule? When the drug mules are forced into servitude in the name of Cronenbergian insects and a web of gnarly body horror. If this piques your interest, check out our interview with director Carter Smith and his thoughts on this gnarly little flick!

8. Barbarian. Directed by Zach Cregger.

🔪🔪🔪🔪 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

As my co-host Liz Williams so rightly noted “Unless you live under a rock, or just don’t go online, you have probably already heard about the film Barbarian. It’s been called this year’s Malignant and most reviews say don’t read reviews and go into this film knowing as little as possible.

This one’s got top notch performances, laughs, and shock, after shock, after shock. Each one weirder then the last.

9. Speak No Evil. Directed by Christian Tafdrup.

🔪🔪🔪🔪 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

A Danish family visits a Dutch family they meet on a holiday. Social norms get in the way of the Danes as bad decision after bad decision piles up one on top of another. Speak No Evil is not for the faint of heart. It’s a rough film with one of the rougher endings you’ll ever lay your eyes on. This film will have you rethinking ever going on vacation again!

10. Hypochondriac. Directed by Addison Heimann.

🔪🔪🔪🔪 out of 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪

Hypochondriac is really a film that hits the right place and the right time. Mental health, familial relationships, concern about physical health and well-being, and our collective sense that we just might be lost in the universe. Hypochondriac delivers on all these fronts and manages to sneak in a couple of legitimate scares!

In much the same way that 1971’s Let’s Scare Jessica To Death toys with reality and insanity, Hypochondriac creates a myopic world where anything is possible. Lurking right around the corner there might be a vampire, a ghost, or worse yet, some parent-induced trauma from 20 years ago that’s never been dealt with properly. 

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