As a human who primarily watches horror movies, it was both reassuring and amazing to realize what a fantastic year 2022 was for the genre. That fact alone made this a difficult list to make. Every movie is here simply because they won’t leave my head. Scenes and sequences play out in my brain when I least expect (or want) them to. While I know that one memorable sequence does not a great film make, it sure helps, especially in a scary movie.
A Wounded Fawn — director: Travis Stevens
Look: no spoilers, but if any horror movie in 2022 deserves to be considered a masterpiece, it’s Travis Stevens’ gorgeously violent reverso-slasher A Wounded Fawn. It gets going at a point where most crazed killer movies peter out and does not stop until it fades to black. Delving heavily into mythology, A Wounded Fawn is a startling and garish mindblower of a movie. Artistic without sticking its head up its ass, A Wounded Fawn has a tremendous depth not often found in movies of this ilk. Then again, I’ve never seen anything quite like A Wounded Fawn. It’s an upper-echelon film, deserving of conversation from people far smarter than I. Watch it all the way through the closing credits and see if you agree.
Razzennest — director: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Easily the most immersive horror film of the year, Razzennest details the recording of a commentary track for a movie by a horrifically pretentious director. What you hear is more important than what you see in Razzennest, as history and hell collide in the recording booth. When the visuals begin reflecting the awful things happening in audio, Razzennest becomes a claustrophobic nightmare. On point vocal performances are the stars here, and classic lines like “I refuse to show the thing I want to address” add to the fun. Not for the easily distracted, Razzennest seeps into the brain like a sleep-learning lesson that your cerebral cortex won’t let you forget.
X — director: Ti West
With a stunning dual performance by Mia Goth, X tells the story of a secluded Texas porn movie shoot gone extremely bad. Laden with shocking violence and scenes you can’t drink away, X brings a breath of new fetid air to the horror scene. It’s almost impossible to separate X from its prequel, Pearl, leading some writers to place the two films side by side in their lists of favorites. While Goth’s character work in Pearl is better, and she delivers a monologue for the ages, I liked X more. The revelation of the killer’s identity, the unflinching camerawork, and the likability of the entire cast pushes the movie past schlock into a horrific kind of sainthood. Watch both movies, but prepare yourself for the pure weirdness of X.
Terrifier 2 — director: Damien Leone
Terrifier 2 swings for the fences with an epic running length (two and a half hours!), disgustingly doughy practical make-up effects and a big dose of mysticism. As Art the Clown, the genre’s newest iconic screen killer, David Howard Thornton exudes fierce, sadistic glee as he rampages through (literally, in some cases) a group of high-school friends and their families. It’s a non-stop barrage of WTF. You’ll have to make a few leaps of logic while suspending your belief with a virtual crane, but just go with it. If you’re into blood and guts, there’s nothing else like Terrifier 2 out there. Trust me: you’ll never look at mashed potatoes the same way again.
Deadstream — directors: Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Every time I think the found footage subgenre is played out, it sucks me right back in. Deadstream is one of the best found footage movies ever made. Joseph Winter carries the movie on his back as Shawn Ruddy, a whiny and self-important canceled internet personality who plans his big comeback by live streaming his adventures in a supposedly haunted house. Had Ruddy watched horror movies, he would have known that you don’t read ancient tomes or mess with symbols you don’t recognize. His reckless actions piss off The Thing in the House, resulting in a bloodbath as hilarious as it is disturbing. Gloriously nasty in its skewering of online culture, Deadstream succeeds as both a crowd-pleasing comedy and a horror movie. It’s one of my new comfort movies and I can’t recommend it enough.