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General Recap of Horror Cinema for 2022

Recap

Looking for a few new horror films to add to your various queues and watchlists? Good. That's what this article is for. Below you'll find a general recap of horror cinema for 2022, or at least as far as the movies I was able to see. If I forgot, omitted, or overlooked any of your favorites, drop me a line on twitter. Maybe I'll do a quick update in a few weeks.

As far as the ranking goes, it's mostly arbitrary. The top 20 are, in my opinion, the best of the year, but you could re-rank them in any order and I wouldn't complain. And then the rest are horror films I'd call good, very good, or at least noteworthy in some way. I have a real problem "ranking" movies in a very rigid fashion; I hope you'll forgive me on that. Thanks for reading.

Bones and All
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance
Writer: David Kajganich
Director: Luca Guadagnino (Suspiria)
What it's about: Two young lovers take to the road in a cold and unforgiving world. Also they are both cannibals.
Why it's good: The fear of being alone in an unkind world, of being a helpless "adult" cast adrift, of feeling unmoored against a scary and uncertain future; these are some of the things we deal with once childhood is well and truly over, and for some young people the feeling of loneliness, aimlessness, and alienation can be overwhelming. This is a horror film about those kinds of themes. 
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Nope

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun
Writer / Director: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
What it's about: A mysterious presence at a family farm leads to bizarre, terrifying discoveries.
Why it's good: Even if he made entirely conventional horror movies, Jordan Peele would still be a top-tier director -- but he excels because he keeps finding new and challenging ways to shake the genre up. Nope is a very strange thriller, one that offers some unexpected divergences throughout, but that's just part of what makes it so oddly watchable. Even after two visits I'm not sure I'm "getting" all of what Peele is laying down, but I do know that I like it.
Where to watch it: Peacock / standard VOD platforms

Bodies Bodies Bodies

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Rachel Sennott
Writers: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian
Director: Halina Reijn
What it's about: Young people gather for a raucous party, but all hell breaks loose once an innocent game leads to very hurt feelings.
Why it's good: Every generation needs a few horror films to claim as their own, and this smart, dark, funny slasher might just be the first Gen Z classic. Dimestore sociology aside, this is just a straight up fun horror flick.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Pearl

Cast: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright
Writer: Ti West, Mia Goth
Director: Ti West (The Sacrament)
What it's about:  It's 1918 and young Pearl has dreams of Hollywood stardom... and woe to anyone who happens to stand in her way.
Why it's good: There's just something appealing about the modern slasher trappings, dressed up in a fantastic period setting, backed by a smart sense of humor, and a frankly fantastic lead performance by Mia Goth. You might want to watch X before you tackle Pearl, as it's technically the prequel.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

The Menu

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult
Writers: Seth Reiss, Will TracyDirector: Mark Mylod
What it's about: A very elite group of diners is about to have the strangest culinary experience ever, and probably their last.
Why it's good: A trenchant social satire about wealth, status, and artifice -- but it's also a smoothly entertaining dark comedy about excess and entitlement that's full of great performances -- and a few creepy surprises.
Where to watch it: HBO Max

Resurrection

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman
Writer / Director: Andrew Semans
What it's about:  A troubled woman becomes convinced that an old enemy has re-entered her life, and she struggles to find anyone to take her concerns seriously.
Why it's good: Rebecca Hall is one of the best actors working today, period, and few people recognize it like horror fans do. Here she plays a woman who could easily come off as brittle and unsympathetic, but Hall is just too good a performer to do anything one-note. The screenplay is a clever piece of work, and the presence of the excellent Tim Roth adds to an effortlessly ominous tone.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Saloum

Cast: Yann Gael, Evelyne Ily Juhen, Roger Sallah
Writer: Jean Luc Herbulot, Pamela Diop
Director: Jean Luc Herbulot
What it's about: West African mercenaries abduct a Mexican drug lord, only to realize that their extremely remote hideout is being haunted by something truly disturbing.
Why it's good: Aside from the simple pleasure of seeing an action/horror movie from a distinctly unique part of the globe, Saloum is also just a damn good genre story, full of dark suspense, excellent performances, and some enjoyably gruesome surprises. 
Where to watch it: Shudder / standard VOD platforms

The Black Phone

Cast: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Director: Scott Derrickson (Sinister)
What it's about: A young boy is kidnapped by a horrific criminal, but he finds small moments of assistance from some otherworldly sources.
Why it's good: The key to a quality adaptation is evolution; good filmmakers will always add something of their own to an established story, and that's precisely what happens here. The short story by the reliably creepy Joe Hill is expanded upon in several smart, cinematic ways, and the result is a damn good horror movie that struck a chord with the crowds.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Deadstream

Cast: Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone, Jason K. Wixom
Writer / Director: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
What it's about: A disgraced YouTuber tries to win his viewers over with a trip to a legendarily haunted house, and of course things go very, very wrong.
Why it's good: Horror and comedy go together like peanut butter and jelly, but the filmmakers must take care to spread the ingredients properly, and that's definitely the case with this clever, creepy, and consistently amusing piece of funny found footage.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+

Hellbender

Cast: Zelda Adams, Toby Poser, Lulu Adams
Writer / Director: John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser
What it's about: A sickly teenager lives deep in the woods with her mother, but one small act of rebellion leads to a series of truly unnerving discoveries.
Why it's good: The familial filmmaking team behind the also great The Deeper You Dig are back with their best horror movie yet, and it's a weird, dark, personal, and quietly engrossing coming of age terror tale. Not sure what the Poser / Adams clan are cooking up next, but I'll be in line to see it.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Barbarian

Cast: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long
Writer / Director: Zach Cregger
What it's about: Ever rented a house for a brief spell only to discover that there's something truly creepy about the location? Then this might be your new favorite horror movie.
Why it's good: A slick and crafty blend of basic thriller tricks and unexpectedly weird horror treats, this one boasts a strong cast, a simple but compelling hook, and a few nasty jolts you probably won't see coming.
Where to watch it: HBO Max / standard VOD platforms

Watcher

Cast: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman, Burn Gorman
Writer / Director: Chloe Okuno (V/H/S/94)
What it's about: A young American woman relocates to Bucharest and becomes convinced that a local man is stalking her or maybe it's all in her head. Maybe both.
Why it's good: Low-key, quiet, and almost effortlessly suspenseful, this one captures the helplessness a victim must feel when nobody takes her concerns all that seriously. You watch it like it's a trap that's about to be sprung, but you're not sure when -- or on whom.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms.

She Will

Cast: Alice Krige, Malcolm McDowell, Rupert Everett Writer: Kitty Percy, Charlotte Colbert
Director: Charlotte Colbert
What it's about:  An aging movie star visits a distant Scottish retreat in an effort to heal after surgery, but quickly comes to discover some very disturbing truths about the locale.
Why it's good: Genre superstar Alice Krige gets to play a "normal" human for a change, and what at first feels like a standard haunted house tale slowly becomes a whole lot stranger -- and considerably more interesting than most conventional horror stories. Great cast, score, and location.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Piggy

Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi
Writer / Director: Carlota Pereda (The Devil's Tail)
What it's about: An overweight girl deals with some horrible bullies, until they're abducted by a maniac, and then she has to decide what to do.
Why it's good: A good filmmaker can always squeeze a few more miles out of the "misfit strikes back" sub-genre, but this time around we're also presented with a stark and scary moral question: would you save your own tormentors?
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Fresh

Cast: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sebastian Stan, Jojo T. Gibbs
Writer: Lauryn Kahn
Director: Mimi Cave
What it's about: A lovely young couple seem to strike up a potential romance, but wait. No. He's actually a ravenous, enterprising cannibal with a nefarious plan. Oops.
Why it's good: Like most good horror stories, Fresh has a clear lesson, and that lesson is this: be careful when trusting handsome men who seem too good to be true. Fresh offers a highly extreme -- and audaciously entertaining -- rendition of this lesson, and it's backed by some great performances and some gruesome twists.
Where to watch it: Hulu

Men

Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu
Writer / Director: Alex Garland (Annihilation)
What it's about: Following the death of her abusive husband, a young woman travels to a remote part of Southern England and comes across a progressively creepier collection of men.
Why it's good: Aside from a great performance by Jessie Buckley, and several great performances by Rory Kinnear, this freaky folk horror tale captures that awful feeling you get when you arrive at a new location only to realize you're alone, unwelcome, and highly uncomfortable. Although Garland is generally known for his high-tech terrors like Ex Machina and Annihilation, he also has a gift for making even the most mundane situations (and people) seem threatening.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

X

Cast: Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow
Writer / Director: Ti West 
What it's about: A group of amateur filmmakers try to shoot a porno film at a Texas farmhouse -- and quickly come to learn that this was a very bad mistake.
Why it's good: You simply won't find many slasher movies with this level of acting, production design, and general filmmaking quality. Horror fans will be able to (mostly) predict where this one's headed from Act I on, but writer / director Ti West is clearly having a good time delving back into late-'70s horror mayhem.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Speak No Evil

Cast: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt 
Writer: Christian Tafdrup, Mads Tafdrup
Director: Christian Tafdrup
What it's about: Two seemingly very plain married couples become friendly on vacation, and then meet up again a few weeks later, but one of them is hiding a very disturbing secret.
Why it's good: We all know that feeling when a new acquaintance starts to feel a little bit weird, and that's usually when we start to keep some distance. But in some cases it's already way too late. What starts out as a dark comedy of manners gradually unravels to reveal some truly disturbing scares.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

The Innocents

Cast: Rakel Lenora Fløttum, Alva Brynsmo Ramstad, Sam Ashraf
Writer / Director: Eskil Vogt
What it's about: Four troubled kids discover some hard truths -- and some disturbing revelations -- during one unpleasant summer.
Why it's good: Horror fans have seen their share of "dangerous kid" movies by now, so it's a good thing that this Norwegian import finds several crafty and quietly eerie new ways to frame such a tale. This one is not a conventional horror story, but the patient viewers will be rewarded with several darkly memorable moments. 
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Soft & Quiet

Cast: Stefanie Estes, Olivia Luccardi, Dana Millican
Writer / Director: Beth de Araújo
What it's about: A group of seemingly random women meet in private to discuss something they all have in common -- and it's not pleasant.
Why it's good: Presented all in one continuous stream of car-crash inevitability, this is an angry, powerful horror film about hatred, intolerance, and the ways in which both things are allowed to grow and fester, often in plain sight.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

The Cursed

Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly, Alistair Petrie 
Writer / Director: Sean Ellis (The Broken)
What it's about:  A 19th century pathologist visits a beleagured French village, only to discover that the citizens' problems may stem from something lycanthropic in nature. In other words: werewolves.
Why it's good: Perhaps I'm just a sucker for a well-wrought period-piece horror film but I found a lot to enjoy in this one. If you're a fan of old-school whodunit horrors like Sleepy Hollow, Black Death, and The Apostle, then you'll want to add this fine folk horror tale to your watchlist.
Where to watch it: Hulu / standard VOD platforms

Matriarch

Cast: Jemima Rooper, Kate Dickie, Sarah Paul 
Writer / Director: Ben Steiner
What it's about: A troubled woman reluctantly returns to the village of her childhood, only to discover that something deeply unpleasant has taken root there. Perhaps literally.
Why it's good: Sure, we've seen lots of movies about adults who return to their childhood homes and uncover something nefarious, but hey, it's a good hook, and this movie manages to find some new angles to exploit. Plus it all culminates in one of the most wildly unsettling moments you'll see in a horror movie this year.
Where to watch it: Hulu

Mad God

Cast: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda
Writer / Director: Phil Tippett
What it's about: You tell me! This is a bizarre piece of wonderful animation that doesn't have a traditional plot, but seems to be about one creature's slow trek into the underworld.
Why it's good: Like the best weird, artsy, or avant-garde art, Mad God will mean a hundred things to a hundred different viewers, but most will agree that Oscar-winning FX master Phil Tippett has crafted something very personal, very odd, and somehow very captivating. And yes, creepy.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Crimes of the Future

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Lihi Kornowski, Léa Seydoux 
Writer / Director: David Cronenberg (Videodrome)
What it's about: I'm not entirely sure. Evolution, certainly, and the exploitation of human beings for entertainment, profit, and super strange advances in medical science.
Why it's good: Nobody does cerebral sci-fi "body" horror like the great David Cronenberg, and while only time will tell if his later cinematic exploits will be as well regarded as titles like Videodrome and The Fly, it's always great to have a genre master still delivering powerful and provocative work like this. Franky I didn't even "get" all of what this movie was presenting, but that's fine by me. It's still a blast to witness, and maybe later I'll visit YouTube for some expert interpretations.
Where to watch it: Hulu / standard VOD platforms

Smile

Cast: Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher 
Writer / Director: Parker Finn
What it's about: A therapist starts witnessing a series of truly horrible occurrences before coming to realize the events may all be connected -- in a very dark way.
Why it's good: Perhaps a bit overlong for a feature based on a short, and one that borrows heavily from heavy hitters like The Ring and It Follows, but there's still a lot to like here, from the uniformly strong performances to the dryly matter-of-fact tone in which the jolts are delivered. It's just creepy.
Where to watch it: Paramount+ / standard VOD platforms

Prey

Cast: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro 
Writer: Patrick Aison
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
What it's about: Long before the Predators visited Earth to mess with Arnold Schwarzenegger, they stopped here to pick a fight with a tribe of Comanche. 
Why it's good: Only tangentially a horror film, but hey, it's about a monster that slaughters people, and the few survivors who strike back, and that's horror enough for me. Plus, whatever genre basket you want to toss Prey into, it's still the best Predator movie since the 1987 original, thanks mainly to a smart tone, a beautiful setting, and a fantastic lead performance by Amber Midthunder. And of course some brutal monster attacks.
Where to watch it: Hulu

The Fireplace (aka Adult Swim Yule Log)

Cast: Andrea Laing, Justin Miles, Megan Hayes
Writer / Director: Casper Kelly
What it's about: What starts out as a standard, comfy "yule log" video gradually pulls back to reveal a fairly standard horror story, which gradually pulls back to reveal a meta-level of multi-dimensional insanity that almost defies description. 
Why it's good: Remember that viral as hell Too Many Cooks video? How about the short but memorable "Cheddar Goblin" sequence from Mandy? Now imagine what a feature-length horror movie from that insane creator might look like. And make no mistake: The Fireplace has moments of weird comedy and absurdity, but it also gets deeply, oddly, and memorably creepy before the end.
Where to watch it: HBO Max / standard VOD platforms

Sissy

Cast: Aisha Dee, Hannah Barlow, Emily De Margheriti
Writer / Directors: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
What it's about: Cecelia runs into an estranged friend, who invites her to a girls' getaway weekend, but CC's former bully is in attendance, and let's just say there's a lot of unresolved anger between all these women.
Why it's good: Lots of horror films have tried to tackle the sticky topic of social media, and this smart, oddly captivating horror movie gets a lot of it right. It also tackles that weird but entirely familiar feeling you get when you're at a party and you don't feel welcome and then it expands on these themes in shocking ways.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+

Significant Other

Cast: Maika Monroe, Jake Lacy, Matthew Yang King 
Writer / Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen (Body)
What it's about: A young couple goes camping in the woods, and of course they come across something scary and dangerous... but not in the way you'd expect.
Why it's good: Sometimes the beauty of a scary tale lies in the structure more than anything. That's the case with this canny sci-fi horror story, which starts out as the epitome of conventional, but quickly evolves into a clever little puzzle box of a chiller.
Where to watch it: Paramount+

Homebound

Cast: Raffiella Chapman, Aisling Loftus, Tom Goodman-Hill
Writer / Director: Sebastian Godwin
What it's about: Holly is nervous and excited about meeting her fiancee's three kids, and things go from uncomfortable to much worse once we actually get to know these kids.
Why it's good: We've all seen a few solid horror flicks about killer (or at least dangerous) kids, and here's one that delivers numerous subtle clues before things get well and truly disturbing. Hardly the flashiest import on the list, but it's still a particularly well-made piece of work.
Where to watch it: Prime / Tubi / standard VOD platforms

No Exit

Cast: Havana Rose Liu, Danny Ramirez, David Rysdahl 
Writers: Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Director: Damien Power (Killing Ground)
What it's about: A young woman discovers an abducted child in the back of a car, which is scary enough, but this is all going down at an isolated rest stop, during a blizzard. 
Why it's good: There's nothing like a good one-location thriller to get the blood pumping, and this crafty example boasts a good script, a great cast, and a few plot contortions you probably won't see coming because of the blizzard.
Where to watch it: Hulu / Roku

Nanny

Cast: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls 
Writer / Director: Nikyatu Jusu
What it's about: A young woman from Senegal takes a job with an upper-class NYC family, but of course, they're hiding something unpleasant -- and the new employee probably is too.
Why it's good: From the description above, you're probably picturing a standard "evil caregiver" or "devilish kid" horror template, but there's a lot going on beneath the surface of this movie that is far from standard, conventional, or predictable. The film benefits greatly from a densely layered screenplay and a fantastic lead performance by Anna Diop; the whole movie is compelling, but a few of its darker moments are deeply, powerfully moving.
Where to watch it: Prime

Werewolf By Night

Cast: Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris 
Writer: Peter Cameron, Heather Quinn 
Director: Michael Giacchino
What it's about: A group of monster hunters gathers for their latest big game hunt, but this time around, there are a few extra monsters in the mix.
Why it's good: This mini-movie clocks in under 55 minutes in total, but I had to include it anyway because it's just that cool. Combine several superhero-style characters and battles with a distinctly, beautifully old-fashioned black & white presentation, and you'll see how there could be a family-friendly horror vibe in the future for Disney+.
Where to watch it: Disney+

You Won't Be Alone

Cast: Noomi Rapace, Alice Englert, Anamaria Marinca 
Writer / Director: Goran Stolevski
What it's about: A young witch accidentally kills a woman, wears her skin, and heads off to see what else "life" has to offer. Also it's the 19th century.
Why it's good: Grimy, gory, and entirely fascinating, this is probably one of the most visually amazing horror movies of the year. And of course there's a lot going on beneath the surface here; the subtext is not subtle, but it is powerful.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Scream (aka Scream 5)

Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette 
Writer: James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not)
What it's about: The ghostface killer is back! And so are most of our surviving favorites Scream 4!
Why it's good: Presenting a new half-sequel / half-reboot to one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time is no easy task, but based on the reactions from horror fans of multiple generations, it looks like Chapter 5 covered all the bases. From the scary stuff to the amusing bits, with all the red herrings and misdirects one expects from this series, Scream 5 injects some fresh energy into an old standard, and the results are pretty darn good.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Hellraiser

Cast: Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison 
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
Director: David Bruckner (The Ritual)
What it's about: An evil puzzle box threatens to unlock a dimension full of devils and demons and pain. Oh my.
Why it's good: Freed from the clutches of Dimension Films and its endless cycle of wretched sequels, Clive Barker's most infamous horror movie was finally due for a reboot of its own -- and of course it split horror fans right down the middle. To its credit, this new rendition is a full-bore remake, as in you won't be getting a new version of the 1987 classic. This Hellraiser is a refreshingly unfamiliar and unpredictable rendition, and while it may not eclipse the original (or the blissfully insane Hellbound) it's considerably more interesting than that endless deluge of lazy sequels.
Where to watch it: Hulu

The Sadness

Cast: Regina Lei, Tzu-Chiang Wang, Berant Zhu
Writer /Director: Rob Jabbaz
What it's about: A young couple are separated just as all infectious Hell breaks loose.
Why it's good: Combine today's pandemic concerns with the rage virus from 28 Days Later and you're halfway to understanding the horrific, monstrous mayhem that runs rampant through this ferocious Taiwanese export. The plot is the epitome of simple, but the terrors displayed along the way are some of the most powerfully disturbing I've seen in a while.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

We're All Going to the World's Fair

Cast: Theo Anthony, Anna Cobb, Holly Anne Frink 
Writer / Director: Jane Schoenbrun
What it's about: The "World's Fair Challenge" is one of those social media trends that the TikTokers get all excited about... only this game is hiding something highly disturbing.
Why it's good: A darkly effective modernization of the old "bloody mary" mirror challenge, presented with some challenging narrative trickery and only two characters to speak of, World's Fair is a consistently difficult horror flick to pin down, but it's also quietly effective and almost painfully eerie to sit through.
Where to watch it: HBO Max / standard VOD platforms

Blood Relatives

Cast: Noah Segan, Victoria Moroles, Akasha Villalobos
Writer / Director: Noah Segan
What it's about: An afffable Jewish vampire and his estranged daughter reconnect while traveling the back roads of America.
Why it's good: Longtime character actor Noah Segan sinks his teeth into the writer/director role with this amiable and amusing genre cocktail that leans more towards comedy than horror, but in his capable hands the genres congeal quite nicely. The star frequently lets the spotlight shine on his co-stars, which is cool all by itself, and it certainly helps that his co-lead Victoria Moroles is a stone cold scene-stealer.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+

Something in the Dirt

Cast: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Sarah Adina Smith 
Writer: Justin Benson
Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead (The Endless)
What it's about:  A pair of oddball conspiracy theorists become friends, sort of, and come to realize that one of the weirder theories has actually occurred. And it's something bad.
Why it's good: If you've seen any of the previous Benson / Moorhead films -- Resolution, Spring, The Endless, Synchronic -- then odds are you'll find a good deal to enjoy in this no-frills, big-brain, weirdly compelling odd couple story that goes from slyly funny to flatly creepy at the drop of a hat. If you haven't, well, then you might not. 
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

A Wounded Fawn

Cast: Sarah Lind, Josh Ruben, Malin Barr
Writer: Nathan Faudree, Travis Stevens
Director: Travis Stevens (Jakob's Wife)
What it's about: A killer of women has set his sights on a new target, but she's not only prepared to fight back; she also seems to have the wrath of unholy gods on her side.
Why it's good: By now we've seen plenty of horror films in which a potential victim turns the tables on her attacker, so it's a good thing that this dark indie flies off into some rewardingly weird directions once the second shoe drops on the familiar plot. In other words, yep, this one gets fairly weird and artsy, but never to the extent that we lose sight of the story, the characters, or the point.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+

Offseason

Cast: Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Richard Brake 
Writer / Director: Mickey Keating (Darling)
What it's about: A young woman visits a distant island to deal with some family issues, and get this: creepy people are afoot, doing unpleasant things.
Why it's good: Indie horror veteran Mickey Keating dips a toe into the Lovecraft pool, and the result is a consistently ominous trek deep into some very weird places. It helps that he's working with a top-tier ensemble on this one, plus he's just clearly having some fun evoking the fog-laden terror tales of the old-school Hammer Films outlet.
Where to watch it: Hulu / Shudder / standard VOD platforms

Old Man

Cast: Stephen Lang, Marc Senter, Patch Darragh 
Writer: Joel Veach
Director: Lucky McKee (May)
What it's about: A lost hiker believes he's in luck when he stumbles across an old man living in an isolated cabin -- but of course he is not in luck. He is in trouble, although we're not exactly sure why just yet.
Why it's good: For a movie that boasts two actors and one location to remain interesting you need a fairly talented director. Old Man might not be as full-bore horror as McKee's best films (like May and The Woman) but it does offer some darkly interesting concepts, a few great moments, and two very impressive performances.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

The Harbinger

Cast:  Gabby Beans, Emily Davis, Raymond Anthony Thomas
Writer / Director: Andy Mitton (Yellowbrickroad)
What it's about: A cautious young woman ventures out in the height of the covid pandemic when a friend calls for help, and she brings along a wide array of fears, concerns, and anxieties.
Why it's good: One of the first horror films I've seen that captures the fears regarding covid on a personal level, as opposed to a societal one. And as someone who has lost a loved one to the virus, this low-key, deeply personal horror film hit me on a gut level. Plus that lead actor Gabby Beans may just be the discovery of the year. 
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Terrifier 2

Cast: Lauren LaVera, David Howard Thornton, Jenna Kanell 
Writer / Director: Damien Leone (All Hallows Eve)
What it's about: An evil clown stalks everyone!
Why it's good: Although the character had been previously introduced in All Hallows' Eve and obviously Terrifier Part 1, the maniacally bloodthirsty Art the Clown didn't really enter the cinematic consciousness until this scrappy little indie blew up and hauled in over ten million bucks at the box office. This sprawling carnage-fest runs a bit too long for its own good, but given its masterful make-up FX, anyone who has fond memories of slasher / splatter flicks from the 1970s and '80s should have a gory good time with this one.
Where to watch it: Screambox / standard VOD platforms

You Are Not My Mother

Cast: Paul Reid, Hazel Doupe, Aoife Spratt 
Writer / Director: Kate Dolan
What it's about: A teenager's troubled mom returns from a sudden disappearance, an event that reawakens some long-dormant secrets.
Why it's good: A crafty piece of Irish folk horror that delves into the fractious relationship between three generations of troubled women. Teen, mom, and grandmother all have their own emotional baggage to contend with, and each woman harbor some dark secrets of their own. This one's low-key and creepy, with three great performances and a few smart shocks.
Where to watch it: Hulu / standard VOD platforms

The Pale Blue Eye

Cast: Christian Bale, Harry Melling, Lucy Boynton
Writer / Director: Scott Cooper (Antlers)
What it's about: A th century pathologist is asked to investigate a murder that has occurred at a typically unforgiving military academy, which leads to some unexpectedly gruesome discoveries. Also he enlists a young Edgar Allan Poe to assist in his investigation.
Why it's good: The period-piece detective/horror sub-genre gained new life back when Tim Burton delivered the highly entertaining Sleepy Hollow, and the category is still cooking with smart, eerie genre combos like The Pale Blue Eye. The cast is clearly having a ball with this type of material -- particularly Christian Bale as our reluctant hero and Harry Melling as the odd yet affable Poe -- and the look / feel / general vibe of the production is just creepy good fun.
Where to watch it: Netflix

Hatching

Cast: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Jani Volanen 
Writer: Hanna Bergholm, Ilja Rautsi
Director: Hanna Bergholm
What it's about: A young girl with an overbearing mother and a gift for gymnastics comes across a very large egg, which she secretly protects, until it hatches. Like in the title.
Why it's good: This Finnish export has a dry sense of humor and a sincere sense of character where young Tina is concerned, but the movie is at its best when it blossoms into a tale of body horror with a few unique twists.
Where to watch it: Hulu / standard VOD platforms

Incantation

Cast: Hsuan-yen Tsai, Sin-Ting Huang, Ying-Hsuan Kao 
Writer: Che-Wei Chang, Kevin Ko
Director: Kevin Ko (Invitation Only)
What it's about: A woman is cursed after witnessing a forbidden cult ritual, and finds that she has to protect herself and her daughter from unexpected threats.
Why it's good: This solidly compelling Taiwanese production reminds us that there's still more than a little life left in the "found footage" format. provided you have a good ghost story to go with it. There's always something innately creepy about a cult story, and Incantation manages to find a few novel ways to deliver a found footage jolt. 
Where to watch it: Netflix

Barbarians

Cast: Iwan Rheon, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Tom Cullen
Writer / Director: Charles Dorfman
What it's about: A dinner party among allegedly high-class people devolves into craziness when some uninvited guests show up.
Why it's good: At first it feels like a very dark comedy of manners; then it becomes a familiar yet effective home invasion story; and along the way there arises the possibility of supernatural elements as well. Either way, this movie came and went without a peep but I still think it's a smart, strange, low-key thriller that works. If you remember The Invitation from a few years ago, which is also about a dinner party gone wrong, then you'll probably dig Barbarians.
Where to watch it: AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

The Leech

Cast: Jeremy Gardner, Graham Skipper, Taylor Zaudtke 
Writer / Director: Eric Pennycoff
What it's about: A seemingly well-intentioned priest allows a troubled man to spend a few nights in his home, but this act of kindness quickly transforms into a nightmare of annoyance, stress, and tension. Also the priest might not be all that kind in the first place.
Why it's good: A dark and admirably grungy take on The Odd Couple, backed by three great performances and a slow-burn sense of suspense that keeps a viewer on their toes. Is it a dark social satire about basic social standards and behaviors, or is it a psycho-thriller about two new roommates who are about to implode for different reasons? I say why not both?
Where to watch it: Arrow / standard VOD platforms

Orphan: First Kill

Cast: Isabelle Fuhrman, Julia Stiles, Rossif Sutherland 
Writer: David Coggeshall
Director: William Brent Bell (The Boy)
What it's about: It's the origin story of a psychotic woman who looks a lot younger than she is. It makes more sense if you watch Orphan first.
Why it's good: Let's hear it for simply embracing the innate ridiculousness of your premise. That tongue-in-cheek approach worked well for the first movie, and this enjoyably audacious prequel might be even better, thanks in large part to a very game cast and a few fun twists.
Where to watch it: Paramount+ / standard VOD platforms

Satan's Slaves 2: Communion

Cast: Tara Basro, Endy Arfian, Nasar Annuz 
Writer / Director: Joko Anwar (Impetigore)
What it's about: A haunted apartment building causes all sorts of problems for its tenants, to say nothing of the Satanic cult members who may be causing all the problems in the first place. 
Why it's good: It may be a sequel to a remake but if Indonesian horror king Joko Anwar wants to keep delivering sequels at this level of quality, then count me in. From the wonderfully dreary location and the quietly effective mood-setting, to the sudden jolts of horror that keep things moving, Communion might just be creepier than its predecessor.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+

Run Sweetheart Run

Cast: Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbæk, Clark Gregg 
Writer:  Shana Feste, Keith Josef Adkins, Kellee Terrell
Director: Shana Feste
Why it's good: Perhaps best described as the slasher movie version of Run Lola Run, this offbeat thriller earns a lot of points for creativity, energy, and a few strange contortions you probably won't see coming. And much like Run Lola Run, Sweetheart boasts a fantastic lead performance that keeps things interesting in between all the scrapes, chases, and escapes. Plus one cannot discount the value of weird surprises. Let's just leave it at that.
Where to watch it: Prime

V/H/S/99

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Writer / Director: <several>
What it's about: A deceased band gets resurrected; a sorority girl goes underground; a grieving mother demands revenge; a few sleazy teens harass the wrong girl; and two goofy YouTubers find themselves pulled into Hell itself.
Why it's good: As usual the V/H/S franchise allows a fresh batch of indie filmmakers to hone their craft and contribute to a popular franchise at the same time. Not to play favorites with this fifth chapter, but I'm a sucker for "buried alive'' stories, and this freaky omnibus offers a really solid one.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ 

Scare Package 2: Rad Chad's Revenge

Cast: <large>
Writer / Director: <several>
What it's about: It's about 98 minutes of low-budget, gory, tongue-in-cheek horror fun from a bunch of people who know and love the genre.
Why it's good: The best horror anthologies have their own distinct vibe. V/H/S, for example, is generally pretty dark, whereas Scare Package is fully intent on combining horror with humor at (almost) every opportunity. If one joke doesn't land for you, just wait a few seconds and you'll get another one tossed your way, followed by something appreciably scary or impressively gross.
Where to watch it: AMC+ / Shudder

Glorious

Cast: Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Grace Crim 
Writer:  Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry
Director: Rebekah McKendry (All the Creatures Were Stirring)
What it's about: An unhappy young man makes a roadside rest stop to relieve himself, only to discover that there's something dark and Lovecraftian residing in the next stall.
Why it's good: It sometimes feels like a stage play ported over to movie form in a slick, energetic fashion, which is just another way of saying it has one location and only a few characters. In this case the "less is more" approach works, thanks in large part to JK Simmons' devilish voice work and a script that balances absurd humor and legitimate horror in equal doses.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Nocebo

Cast: Eva Green, Mark Strong, Chai Fonacier 
Writer: Garret Shanley
Director: Lorcan Finnegan (Vivarium)
What it's about: A distracted professional hires a Filipino nanny to help take care of her young daughter, but the newcomer turns out to have a very specific interest in her new employer.
Why it's good: It's probably because I expected yet another rendition of the "nanny from hell" concept that I was pleasantly surprised by the strange, novel plot points that kept popping up throughout the movie. Green and Strong provide typically strong work here, and newcomer Fonacier proves to be a fascinating player in her own right.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Livid

Cast: Chloé Coulloud, Félix Moati, Jérémy Kapone 
Writer / Director: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury (Inside)
What it's about: A group of young thieves decide to rob an old lady's house, but would you believe that there's something evil afoot in the forbidding mansion?
Why it's good: It's a pretty simple set-up, story-wise, but the joys of this one lie in the visual presentations. It's an oddly beautiful horror film that opened overseas way back in 2011 but finally got U.S. distribution in 2022.
Where to watch it: standard VOD platforms

Troll

Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Kim Falck, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen
Writer: Espen Aukan, Roar Uthaug
Director: Roar Uthaug (Cold Prey)
What it's about:  A gigantic troll awakens in the mountains of Norway, and it's up to a colorful bunch of scientists to prevent it from destroying half the country.
Why it's good: Sort of a playful Norwegian rendition of King Kong, Troll is not exactly a horror film, but since we're talking about a Scandinavian kaiju flick, it's definitely worth including here. And it certainly helps that the cast, the script, and the special effects are just a whole lot of fun.
Where to watch it: Netflix

Ghost Mansion

Cast: Kim Hong-pa, Seo Hyun-woo, Kim Jae-hwa 
Writer / Director: Jo Ba-Reun
What it's about: A haunted apartment building gives a struggling artist some dangerous new inspirations.
Why it's good: Right off the bat, Ghost Mansion delivers two things I love: it's an anthology, and it's a Korean horror movie. And while it's true that the "mixed bag" theory of anthology quality holds true for horror films of any nation, there's more than enough creep factor to invest a few hours in this well-paced collection of terror tales.
Where to watch it: Rakuten Viki

The Invitation

Cast: Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty, Sean Pertwee
Writer: Blair Butler
Director: Jessica M. Thompson
What it's about: A lonely young woman discovers she has some very wealthy family across the pond, and it doesn't take long before her new relatives reveal some dark secrets over one long weekend.
Why it's good: A campy,vampy, and visually striking culture clash thriller that has a dash of romance, several broad jump scares, and a big "secret" you'll probably see coming -- but have a good time with anyway. Bonus points for a great location and a winning lead performance by Ms. Emmanuel.
Where to watch it: Netflix, standard VOD platforms

Deep Fear

Cast: Blaise Afonso, Olivier Bony, Toussaint Colombani 
Writer: Nicolas Tackian
Director: Grégory Beghin

What it's about: Once again a bunch of silly urban explorers delve deep into the underworld of France, only to come across some long-dormant and highly terrifying discoveries.
Why it's good: You're halfway towards a decent horror film if you're shooting in the catacombs beneath France, and fortunately the filmmakers behind this familiar but smoothly enjoyable shriekfest have more up their sleeve than just one massively imposing location. There's nothing here that reinvents any wheels -- fans of this material have already seen Creep and As Above, So Below -- but there's a decent amount of energy, intensity, and creepiness on display here.
Where to watch it: Screambox, standard VOD platforms

What Josiah Saw

Cast: Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Tony Hale
Writer: Robert Alan DiltsDirector: Vincent Grashaw
What it's about: Three adult siblings try to contend with horrific memories from their childhood, but of course, one cannot just walk away from old trauma. At least not in movies like this one. Why it's good: This is a grim and sometimes gruesome slab of Southern Gothic slow-burn intensity, backed by a darkly beautiful visual palette, a half-dozen outstanding performances, and a few sobering reminders that the things we fear the most are often the most personal, private, and painful. This is in no way a "fun" horror film, but it is a remarkably confident and powerful one.
Where to watch it: AMC+ / Shudder

Master

Cast:  Regina Hall, Zoe Renee, Amber Gray
Writer / Director: Mariama Diallo
What it's about: Three very different Black women contend with a variety of problems faced in a mostly-white college -- including some terrible memories from the past.
Why it's good: If you haven't lived it, you can't know how it feels: the loneliness and isolation that comes with being a true "minority" in a particularly unwelcome setting -- doubly so when you're sure that a mysterious person (or group) is out to hurt you. And while Master touches on horror tropes like ghosts, witches, and long-buried crimes, its most powerful threat comes in the most basic form of evil there is: racism, bigotry, and an eternal sense of entitlement. Loaded with great performances, but of course Regina Hall stands out whenever she's on the screen.

Where to watch it: Prime

Christmas Bloody Christmas

Cast: Riley Dandy, Sam Delich, Jonah Ray 
Writer / Director: Joe Begos (Bliss)
What it's about: A killer Santa robot goes on a full-gore, slasher-tastic rampage.
Why it's good: If Terrifier 2 got you in the mood for a retro-style, old school splatter-fest, well then this would probably make for a good double feature. It's a practically plotless affair, but lots of the characters are funny (before they get shredded), the killer santa is pretty cool, and the whole thing gives off sort of a 1983 night at the drive-in vibe. Probably best enjoyed with a relaxing substance of your own choosing.
Where to watch it: Shudder / AMC+ / standard VOD platforms

Halloween Ends

Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney 
Writer: David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Chris Bernier, Paul Brad Logan
Director: David Gordon Green
What it's about: Mysterious psychopath Michael Myers continues his endless October rampage, and this time he might just have a fan.
Why it's good: Here we have another "legacy sequel" that has a few good ideas to speak of but also sometimes struggles to justify its own existence. I mean, we've had enough Halloween movies by now, surely. At least for a while. All things considered, this bizarre new trilogy comes to a suitably weird close with Ends, a sequel that wanders randomly from quietly effective to 'WTF were they thinking' without missing a beat.
Where to watch it: Peacock, standard VOD platforms

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