The year 2022 has flown by.
In fact, the last few years have been an absolute blur. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s hard to ignore that–as I slowly emerge from my self-imposed covid chrysalis to wrestle on shows, meet up with friends for games, and plan vacations–time appears to be moving faster and faster. But before I start getting too deep into the concept of time dilation, let’s focus on the reason we’re all here: to recap and analyze the thirty-one spooky movies I watched in the month of October. Let’s dive in!
First, here’s a quick refresher:
There were SO MANY new movies on my list this year. So many that I was able to stream the whole list without a VPN. I did go back into the vault to view some “oldies” like 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, and Don’t Breathe, but this list is mostly stuff that came out within the last few years. There are a few that I never got a chance to watch because they weren’t available on streaming at the time–Smile, X, and Pearl, just to name a few–but there’s always next year. But Old, Last Night in Soho, The Black Phone, Prey, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, Hellraiser, They/Them, Candyman, The Night House, Barbarian, and Fresh are all movies that I’d been meaning to watch all year and finally jumped on the opportunity.
Let’s start with the highlights.
Prey, Deadstream, Psycho Goreman, Hellraiser, Willy’s Wonderland, Fresh, and V/H/S/99 were all major standouts for me.
Deadstream actually came out of nowhere to be my favorite of the bunch. It’s a found footage-style movie about a canceled livestreamer who spends the night in a haunted house to try and make his comeback–very fun and funny. I actually watched it the day it was released because it was making a bit of a ruckus in the horror twitter spaces I follow.
V/H/S/99 is the follow-up to my favorite movie from 2021–V/H/S/94–and, while it wasn’t quite as well-rounded as its predecessor, it actually featured my favorite story of the series so far which was done by the same people who made Deadstream! For those who don’t know, the V/H/S series is an anthology horror franchise that utilizes found footage and videotapes as the framework for each story. It recently had a resurgence with last year’s entry after dropping off after the original trilogy, which I also watched this year. The original trilogy is much lower in quality when compared to the two newer entries, but the first couple of movies are alright. V/H/S: Viral (the third entry) is by far the weakest of the franchise and I can see why a reboot was necessary afterward. That said, 94 and 99 are definite must-watches, in my opinion, but you can skip the first three.
Psycho Goreman was another Shudder original that I just couldn’t fit on my previous year’s list, but I’m glad I got back around to it. The only way I can describe it is “Power Rangers for adults” because of the costuming and story concepts. Another super fun one.
I’m lumping Prey and Hellraiser into the same paragraph since they are revamped versions of very famous horror franchises–Predator and Hellraiser (obviously), respectively, and–in my opinion, might even surpass the originals. Prey is phenomenal and turns a lot of the toxic masculine themes that I remember from the original Predator on their head while adding a lot of cool lore. Hellraiser is a remake that, I’ve heard, follows the source material–The Hellbound Heart novella by Clive Barker–a little more closely than the original movie. I think both entries in the series are incredible, but I appreciated how much more of the Cenobites we got in this version. The redesigns and new members of the crew looked amazing.
Willy’s Wonderland is another one of those Nic Cage specials. It seems like every year, he ends up dropping some cult goodness, and this movie is no different. The story is simple–Five Nights at Freddy’s: the movie. Nic Cage plays a completely silent protagonist who has to fight off demonic animatronics. It’s so cheesy and B-movie. I loved it!
Finally, Fresh stars The Winter Soldier, but could just have easily featured any current movie star named Chris, because it’s all about a charming dude who is secretly a cannibal. The first half hour is a great lampooning of modern dating and almost takes a turn for the rom-com, but takes a drastic turn when the real premise–and the title screen–drops.
Now let’s move on to some of the middle tiers.
This is honestly where most stuff falls. Movies I still enjoyed, some I even enjoyed quite a bit, but they just haven’t stuck with me as much as those I just listed. Let’s hit these quickly!
Old is another M. Night Shyamalan joint about a beach that ages people rapidly. It’s apparently based on a comic, too. It was fine, I’m just not super into the current M. Night stuff. Last Night in Soho comes from the filmmaker of one of my favorite movies of all time–Scott Pilgrim vs. The World–Edgar Wright. It was really interesting and almost broke into the top tier. I just can’t see myself watching it again. The Black Phone was weird. Ethan Hawke was super creepy. It was kind of like “Chekhov’s Gun: The Movie.”
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair was one that I was excited about. I had heard a lot of good stuff going in and I definitely still think about it. I think it really captured what it’s like to be terminally online as a teenager/young adult, but the ending left me a bit wanting. I think at the end of the day, the movie–which a trans woman directed–included some deeper meaning that a cis person like myself just couldn’t catch onto. Antlers was another one that sounded cool but also left me a bit wanting at the end. It was about the wendigo, which is something we don’t see much in horror and the monster design was excellent, I just wished we’d seen more of it. The final movie in the “I wish there was a little more there” series is They/Them. It was advertised as an LGBTQ+ slasher set in a gay conversion camp, so I was intrigued. It started really strong and had some of my favorite slasher movie moments ever, but the resolution felt rushed and I wasn’t sure they landed the plane.
Werewolf by Night is kind of a black sheep in this list because it’s an MCU special, so not really true horror, but I watched a Lego Star Wars movie last year! It still was a nice love story to old-school gothic horror films and featured Man-Thing, who has an awesome monster design.
Speak No Evil was WILD! It’s basically socially uncomfortable horror. The theme was basically how dangerous going outside your comfort zone–not drawing firm lines–to avoid some sort of social faux pas can be. It legit made me feel so uncomfortable at parts. But eventually, I just stopped feeling bad for the protagonists, because they had multiple opportunities to get out of the situation and chose not to.
Candyman (2021) was another movie I was hyped up for. I loved the original, but I think I did this “re-quel” a disservice by not rewatching the original again before watching this one. There were a lot of connections to the original that I didn’t pick up on until I started reading up on it later. Don’t get me wrong, it totally stands on its own, but I always appreciate the small details being included in a series. I think I’d like to do a double feature of the original and this movie, so I can really appreciate both.
This was, surprisingly, my first time watching 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later and they were a great reminder of why zombies took off as a concept. I was immediately transported back to when The Walking Dead show had just started airing, and it became appointment television for my friends and me. I’m glad we moved on to other horror topics, but I also totally get it. Speaking of The Walking Dead, The Mist was like a Walking Dead prequel, since it featured nearly half the cast of the first season and felt very much like a zombie movie. It was hyped up to me a lot but honestly didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped. A Quiet Place Part II, was pretty similar to The Mist, in that it wasn’t specifically about zombies but still had that “end-of-the-world survival” vibe. I saw the original at a drive-in theater, and I remember liking it just fine but it didn’t really stick with me. It may just be recency bias, but I think I liked this one more than the original. That said, I won’t be revisiting the original any time soon, so I’ll never know.
The Night House was pitched to me as one of the most legitimately scary movies of the year, but it just didn’t live up to those expectations. It was a fine movie, but I think it was a little overhyped. Barbarian was another SUPER hyped-up movie this year, but nobody could tell you what it was about, lest it gets spoiled, so I went in sight unseen, so maybe my expectations weren’t as lofty as they were for The Night House, but I definitely liked it more. I also won’t be doing any spoilers here but, looking back, this movie reminds me a lot of Hereditary, which I watched last year. It’s a movie that you hear almost nothing about because nobody wants to spoil how absolutely bonkers it is, and I can truly appreciate that.
The Munsters and Wendell & Wild go in their own little subcategory together, as they were both kinda comedic and Netflix-exclusives. Wendell & Wild was great! It’s from the guy who directed Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline and has all the dark humor and charm that comes from those movies. Key and Peele play funny little demons who even look like them. It’s great, highly recommend it. The Munsters was a VERY divisive topic on social media, and I get why. It’s super cheesy and goofy, and honestly doesn’t really tell much of a story. It just kind of meanders from one thing to another, but I didn’t mind too much. It was fun.
I was excited about Dashcam because I’ve seen horror shorts that utilize a dashcam to great effect, so I was intrigued to see a full-length movie using that format. It was fun, but boy they lost so many points right at the start by making the protagonist an irritating, obnoxious anti-vax Trumper. I would have turned it off immediately if it was a personal recommendation, so I pushed through and it got better as the focus shifted from what an awful person the protag was and started introducing the horror and supernatural elements. A great concept that was kinda ruined by a bad choice for the main character.
I’m not sure how I feel about Don’t Breathe. Even though it came out in 2016, it already feels very dated. It’s maybe kinda ableist since the main characters are robbing a blind elderly man and the writing gets super weird and gross to establish him as an irredeemable villain. It’s weird. I might check out the sequel, but it’s not a high priority. Speaking of weird and gross, Mad God was a wild trip! I watched most of these movies while running on the treadmill, since I barely have time to do much during the week, and I had to stop my run for this one because it was so weird. It was a stop-motion animation story about some soldiers journeying through different layers of hell. It sat with me–and still does, to an extent–much like the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And now, some final thoughts.
There is at least one movie on the list that I did NOT like, but I don’t see a reason to dig into it here. Art is art, and I’m happy to support it, so I’m not gonna rag too hard on any movie on this blog. Overall, this was a super solid year for horror in general, and I’m pretty happy with most of my picks for this list. I’m genuinely bummed that there were some I didn’t get to or couldn’t watch at the time. But that’s just more movies to watch next year!
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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