This year has been a great year for horror because any year is a great year for horror if you watch enough movies. While the will of X, Pearl, No, Barbarian, Smileand Bodies Bodies Bodies cemented themselves as one of the best and brightest of the year, just like any other year there were far too many others that unfortunately flew under the radar.
So let’s take a moment to look at the most under-seen and under-appreciated horror movies of 2022 and give them time to shine. It’s getting spooky in here.
The Chalk Line
The Chalk Line not only walks the line between thriller and horror, but completely and utterly destroys it. Like the infamous Speak no evil (2022), also starting this year, you will find yourself begging to release the tension for a moment when you are not completely tense. Your wish will not be granted.
After rescuing a mysterious, traumatized young girl, a couple take her in in hopes of helping her. However, the longer she stays with them, the more they realize that something is deeply wrong with the circumstances surrounding her initial disappearance.
Sometimes there are just bad people doing horrible things, and we never get a reason why. It’s not satisfying, but it shouldn’t be. Real life doesn’t care about giving us closure, something the movie understands to some degree.
We tend to turn to fiction to get away from reality, but horror is meant to do the opposite. The truth is that there is nothing scarier than the unknown, especially when it comes to the evil in the human heart. Can’t say I enjoyed this movie, but that doesn’t make it any less brutally effective. And the worst? It is loosely based on a true story, because of course it is.
JK Simmons voices an Eldritch horror in a bathroom cubicle with a glorious hole in it. If that line doesn’t sell you to this movie on its own, I don’t know what will.
Wes finds himself in a peculiar situation after a romantic encounter goes awry. When he takes a break in the bathroom of a rest stop for a good reason, he gets locked inside and is totally unable to escape. To make matters worse, the mysterious entity responsible for his predicament refuses to let him leave until a very intimate need is met.
Obviously, Glorious J. Jonah Jameson’s draw is JK Simmons himself. The man doesn’t even appear on screen, but manages to command the entire film with a dominating voice that switches so effortlessly between friendly and comical to downright menacing, thumping with enough force to shake the pillars of the earth. An A+ performance from an A+ actor.
The movie also has a secret weapon in the way it plays with your expectations. From the plot description, you clearly know where the movie is going, but you would be wrong. In fact, it weapons the inherent sympathy viewers have for a protagonist to make you feel emotionally ravaged in a way that can only be described as devilish genius. It’s a truly brilliant narrative sleight of hand that punches you right in the face and hits you right on the ass.
While this Taiwanese found footage nightmare made a bit of a splash on Netflix earlier this year, it seems to have come and gone in a flash. It’s a real shame as it’s easily one of the most terrifying horror movies to come out of Asia in years.
A mother’s past sins continue to haunt her when a strange curse is placed on her daughter. Now she must race against both time and unimaginable supernatural horrors to save the one she holds dearest.
Asian horror is pretty notorious for, well, not scurrying around. The incantation is no exception. It is perhaps the most unrelentingly terrifying Asian horror film since the days of Ringu (1998), Pulse (2001), Ju-On: The Grudge (2002), Shutter (2004), and Noroi: The Curse (2005) of Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018), May the Devil Take You (2018), and The Medium (2021) the only others are in recent memory to reach the same horrifying heights.
This movie is brutal. Not a moment goes by that doesn’t feel completely and utterly sinister in its intent. Some horror movies are made to make a point, to say something about grief or trauma or whatever. This one? The sole purpose of existence is to scare the pants off you and make you run to the light switch. It even manages to mix in some truly grotesque body horror that would make even the most die-hard horror fan cringe. If you feel like testing your metal, go check it out The incantation.
House of Darkness
Those of you who have seen the incredible Barbarian (2022) know that Justin Long has made his triumphant return to the horror world. What you may not know is that it’s not the only horror movie this Scream King starred in this year.
In this modern remix of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a man named Hap is invited by his date Mina to a creepy mansion after a night out. Little does he know that what awaits him inside could spell his end if he doesn’t play his cards right.
The first thing you should know House of Darkness is that there is a lot of talk, like a lot. At its core, it’s a conversation and character piece with all-star appearances from each member of the limited cast. The movie has a lot to say about things like toxic masculinity and sexual politics, and you listen to every word because the actors and script are so good.
However, it’s also a horror movie or it wouldn’t be on this list. The horror mainly comes from the built-up tension that makes everything not feel right. It takes a hot minute for things to finally reach their boiling point, but once they do, it’s well worth the wait. If you’re a patient watcher, you’ll find yourself highly rewarded.
A creature feature with twists, turns and hearts to spare. What else do you need?
When Allen, a disgraced podcast host, gets the chance to interview Don, a grieving widower who claims a monster lives in the woods near his farm, he is thrust into a mystery that will change his life forever.
The heart and soul of All eyes (2022) lie in the relationship that develops between Allen and Don. They are both broken people looking for connection, even though they refuse to admit it to each other or to themselves. Watching them bond and grow together is a treat, one that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
While it may be mostly character focused, it’s still a creature trait, and boy does it not disappoint. You may not see a whole lot of the monster, but what you do see is more than enough to leave an impression. But in the second act of the movie, when you finally see it, the movie willingly goes crazy in a way that I won’t spoil. Give this one some well-deserved love.
Standing next to the will of Host (2020), The Harbinger (2022) feels like one of the first horror films to have a truly brazen response to the COVID pandemic.
After her friend calls her for help on a matter of life or death, Monique breaks quarantine to help her through the crisis. Unfortunately for her, she soon learns that no good deed goes unpunished when the entity plaguing her boyfriend puts her in its crosshairs.
What The harbinger has that Host was refused is the luxury of the time. Two years have passed since the release of Host, and a lot has changed. We’re far from living in a post-pandemic society, but that doesn’t mean the world hasn’t irrevocably changed in ways we could never have perceived.
The key to what makes this film both an excellent horror film and a perfect allegory is the entity of The Harbinger himself. It’s like Freddy Krueger to the COVID world, feeding on the fear and isolation that the virus brings and spreading from person to person like a human being. Equal parts thought-provoking and terrifying, The Harbinger deserves a place among the best of the year.
I love horror movies almost as much as my cats. Part-time writer, full-time John Carpenter enthusiast