Ten Unsettling and Unnerving 2022 Horror Films That You Can (and Should) Stream This Halloween
It’s the spookiest time of the year, again — and 2022 has delivered a heap of top-notch new movies perfect for the occasion.
October 21, 2022
Here's an excellent way to spend Halloween: watching the exceptional slasher flick that is the OG Halloween, aka one of iconic filmmaker John Carpenter's masterpieces, as well as the movie that helped make Jamie Lee Curtis a star. But when October 31 rolls around — or the month of October in general — you might want to expand your viewing. Sure, the Halloween franchise has plenty of entries, including a brand-new one in cinemas right now (and some excellent, some terrible and some average ones). It isn't the only worthy of your eyeballs while you're carving pumpkins, eating candy and dressing up in the most frightening costume you can conjure up, however.
Every year, a whole heap of unsettling and unnerving flicks reach screens big and small. Every year, they spook us out all year round. But this is the time to binge them — and we've come up with a killer streaming marathon solely based on 2022 horror movies on the various platforms now.
If your idea of a perfect Halloween this year involves getting reacquainted with that groove on your sofa and binging your way through the latest and greatest eerie flicks that are currently offer, here's ten that'll do the trick. You'll need to supply the treats, obviously.
In new slasher standout X, the eponymous letter doesn't simply mark a spot; it isn't by accident that the film takes its moniker from the classification given to the most violent and pornographic movies made. This is a horror flick set amid a porn shoot, after all, and it heartily embraces the fact that people like to watch from the get-go. Swaggering producer Wayne (Martin Henderson, The Gloaming), aspiring starlet Maxine Minx (Mia Goth, Emma), old-pro fellow actors Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow, Pitch Perfect 3) and Jackson Hole (Scott Mescudi, Don't Look Up), and arty director RJ (Owen Campbell, The Miseducation of Cameron Post) and his girlfriend/sound recorder Lorraine (Jenna Ortega, doing triple horror duty in 2022 so far in Scream, Studio 666 and now this) are counting on that truth to catapult themselves to fame. Hailing from Houston and aroused at the idea of repeating Debbie Does Dallas' success, they're heading out on the road to quieter climes to make the skin flick they're staking their futures on, and they desperately hope there's an audience.
X is set in the 70s, as both the home-entertainment pornography market and big-screen slashers were beginning to blossom. As a result, it's similarly well aware that sex and death are cinema's traditional taboos, and that they'll always be linked. That's art imitating life, because sex begets life and life begets death, but rare is the recent horror movie that stresses the connection so explicitly yet playfully. Making those links is Ti West, the writer/director responsible for several indie horror gems over the past decade or so — see: cult favourites The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers — and thrusting a smart, savage and salacious delight towards his viewers here. Yes, he could've gone with The Texas Porn-Shoot Massacre for the feature's title, but he isn't remaking the obvious seminal piece of genre inspiration.
X streams via Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Prime Video. Read our full review.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT
Running for 53 minutes, Werewolf by Night is more a standalone Marvel Cinematic Universe special than a movie. It's the first release of its type for the sprawling comic book-to-screen behemoth, and it makes the case for more like it. In fact, if you've been feeling fatigued by average big-screen MCU releases lately, it also makes the case for more variety and experimentation in the Marvel blockbuster realm in general — because when the usual mould gets tinkered with in a significant way, and not just with a goofy vibe like Thor: Love and Thunder, something special like this can result. The mood is all horror, in a glorious throwback way, complete with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. The focus: hunting for monsters, which does, yes, involve bringing together a crew of new characters with special traits. Thankfully, that concept never feels formulaic because of how much creepy fun that Werewolf by Night is having, and how much love it splashes towards classic creature features.
That monochrome look, and the shadowy lighting that comes with it, clearly nods to the ace monster flicks of the 1930s and 1940s; composer-turned-director Michael Giacchino (who provided Thor: Love and Thunder's score, in fact), must be a fan, as we all should be. His filmmaking contribution to the MCU takes its name from comic-book character Werewolf by Night, which dates back to the 70s on the page — but if you don't know that story, let the same-titled flick surprise you. The plot begins with five experienced monster hunters being summoned to Bloodstone Manor following the death of Ulysses Bloodstone, and told to get a-hunting around the grounds to work out who'll be the new leader (and also gain control of a powerful gem called the Bloodstone). That includes Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal, Station Eleven), plus Ulysses' estranged daughter Elsa (Laura Donnelly, The Nevers). Everything that happens from there — and before that — instantly makes for pulpy and entertaining viewing.
Werewolf by Night streams via Disney+.
Meet the Adams family — no, not the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky characters that've featured on pages and screens for decades (including in two terrible recent animated flicks), but the filmmaking collective comprised of couple Toby Poser and John Adams, plus their daughters Zelda and Lulu Adams. The quartet might be missing a letter from their well-known counterparts' names, but they're just as fond of all things horror. Case in point: their second feature Hellbender, a self-financed gem that's both a spellbinding tale of witchcraft and a clever coming-of-age story. It starts in a house in the woods, and also spends most of its time there. It includes the arrival of an unexpected stranger, shattering the status quo. But formulaic and by-the-numbers, this must-see isn't. In making exceptional use of its setting, and of a cast that's primarily comprised of Adams family members, it's also a masterclass in lockdown filmmaking.
In the most expected aspect of Hellbender, the film's name does indeed refer to a punk-metal band, with 16-year-old Izzy (Zelda Adams, The Deeper You Dig) and her mother (Toby Poser) its sole members. No one else has ever heard them play, either, given that Izzy is both homeschooled and confined to the family's sprawling mountainside property, as she has been since she was five. Her mum tells her that she can't venture into town or around other people due to a contagious autoimmune disease; however, when a lost man (John Adams) wanders their way and mentions that his teenage niece Amber (Lulu Adams) lives nearby, Izzy gets the confidence to go exploring. As both written and directed by three out of four Adams family members — all except Lulu — Hellbender proves an impressive supernatural affair from its opening occult-heavy prologue through to its astute take on teen rebellion. Here's hoping this Adams family spirits up more DIY horror delights soon, too.
Hellbender streams via Shudder and iTunes.
Finally, a film about dating in the 21st century with real bite — and that's unafraid to sink its teeth into the topic. In this hit Sundance horror-comedy, Normal People's Daisy Edgar-Jones plays Noa, and once again gets entangled in a romance that'll leave a mark; here, however, the scars aren't merely emotional. Swiping right hasn't been doing it for Fresh's protagonist, as a comically terrible date with the appropriately named Chad (Brett Dier, Jane the Virgin) demonstrates early. Then sparks fly the old-fashioned way, in-person at the supermarket, with the curiously offline doctor Steve (Sebastian Stan, Pam & Tommy). Soon, he's whisking her away to a secluded spot for the weekend — a little too swiftly for Noa's protective best friend Mollie's (Jojo T Gibbs, Twenties) liking, especially given that no one can virtually stalk his socials to scope him out — and that getaway takes a savage and nightmare-fuelling twist.
If Raw met Ex Machina, then crossed paths with American Psycho and Hostel, and finally made the acquaintance of any old rom-com, Fresh still wouldn't be the end result — but its tone stems from those parts, as do some plot points and performances, and even a few scenes as well. First-time feature director Mimi Cave doesn't butcher these limbs, though, and screenwriter Lauryn Kahn (Ibiza) doesn't stitch them together like Frankenstein's monster. As anchored by the excellent Edgar-Jones and Stan, there's care, savvy, smarts and style in this splatter-filled, satirical, brutal, funny, empowered and sweet film. Its twists, and its cutting take on predatory dating, are best discovered by watching, but being turned off apps, men and meat in tandem is an instant gut reaction.
Fresh streams via Disney+.
No stranger to voicing iconic lines, Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered one of his best-known phrases yet 35 years ago, in a franchise that's still going today. "If it bleeds, we can kill it" has been quoted frequently ever since — even by champion AFL coaches — and it's no spoiler to mention that it pops up again in the latest Predator film Prey. Trotting out that piece of dialogue won't surprise anyone, but this fine-tuned action-thriller should. It's one of the saga's best entries, serving up a lean, taut and thoughtful kill-or-be-killed battle set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago. The Predator series hasn't been big on highlights over the years — Predator 2 is forgettable to put it nicely, 2010's Predators is effective, 2018's The Predator favoured its throwback vibes above all else, and the two terrible Alien vs Predator cross-over films are best left forgotten — however Prey not only breathes new life into it, but paves a welcome path for more. (Bring on a Prey sequel ASAP.)
The overall premise remains the same, with the franchise's ruthless, brutal and technologically advanced alien species using earth as its hunting ground as the series has already established — and showing zero concern about leaving a body count. Trained healer Naru (Amber Midthunder, The Ice Road) is the first to notice that something is awry this time, spotting the predator's spaceship in the sky and taking it as a sign to follow her dream to become a hunter herself. Alas, that isn't the done thing. In fact, she's spent her entire life being told that she can't be like her brother Taabe (first-timer Dakota Beavers), and should focus on her assigned role instead. Now, even with an extra-terrestrial foe wreaking havoc, she's still dismissed at every turn. Midthunder plays Naru as a fierce, determined, persistent and resourceful force to be reckoned with, while writer/director Dan Trachtenberg — co-scripting with Jack Ryan's Patrick Aison — gives all things Predator the taut focus, canny shift and fresh feel he also gave the Cloverfield saga with 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Prey streams via Disney+.
WE'RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD'S FAIR
"Hey guys, Casey here. Welcome to my channel. Today I'm going to be taking the World's Fair Challenge." So says We're All Going to the World's Fair's protagonist (feature newcomer Anna Cobb) twice to start this absorbing horror film, to camera, in what makes a spectacular opening sequence. Next, an eerie wave of multicoloured light flashes across her face. Watching her response brings the also-excellent She Dies Tomorrow to mind, but Casey has her own viral phenomenon to deal with. She's doing what she says she will, aka viewing a strobing video, uttering a pivotal phrase and then smearing blood across her laptop screen — and she promises to document anything that changes afterwards, because others have made those kinds of reports. Written, directed and edited by fellow feature debutant Jane Schoenbrun, the instantly eerie and intriguing We're All Going to the World's Fair is that record.
Schoenbrun's film is more than that, however. It also charts the connections that spring and splinter around Casey just by joining the online trend, where her videos spark others in return — and the spirals she goes down as she watches, which then sparks a response in her own way, too. A portrait of isolation and alienation as well, while chronicling the after effects of playing a virtual horror game, We're All Going to the World's Fair is also a picture of an always-recorded world. Take your lockdown mindset, your social-media scrolling, all that Zooming that defined the beginning of the pandemic and a gamer vibe, roll them all together, and that's still not quite this arresting movie — which keeps shifting and evolving just like Cobb's enigmatic and evocative performance. The entire flick earns that description and, not that it needs an established name's tick of approval, the fact that The Green Knight and A Ghost Story director David Lowery is an executive producer speaks volumes.
We're All Going to the World's Fair streams via Shudder, Google Play, YouTube Movies and iTunes.
Horror remakes and sequels are a bit like Halloween itself: even if you're not a fan, they always keep coming. First, a key rule about giving beloved old flicks a do-over or a years-later followup: the originals always still exist, no matter how the new movies turn out. Now, a crucial point about Hellraiser circa 2022: it's never going to be the OG picture, but it's still visually impressive, eager to get gory in bold and inventive ways, well cast and also happy to muse thoughtfully on addiction. And yes, there's a note of warning included in that above assessment of a film that arrives 35 years after Clive Barker's first stab at the series, and following nine other sequels. Directed by The Night House helmer David Bruckner, the new Hellraiser is stylish with its violent, bloody imagery, but it also still loves ripping flesh apart — and serving up a grisly nightmare.
For newcomers to the Hellraiser fold, beware of puzzles. The moving box here is oh-so-enticing — that's how it gets its victims — but it's also a portal to a hellish realm. That's where demonic, frightening-looking beings called Cenobites dwell, and they're eager to haunt and terrorise the living. (Yes, that includes the ghoulish Pinhead, whose aesthetic really is all there in the name.) Accordingly, this Hellraiser movie kicks off with millionaire Roland Voight (Goran Visnjic, The Boys) obsessed with the box, and his lawyer Menaker (Hiam Abbass, Ramy) luring in new people to get torn to pieces. Then, six years later, recovering drug addict Riley (Odessa A'zion, Good Girl Jane) and her boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey, The Terminal List) find the cube in their possession. When it claims the former's brother Matt (Brandon Flynn, Ratched), she's determined to work out what's going on — and, while never full of narrative surprises, the brutal imagery sears itself into viewers' memories.
Hellraiser streams via Binge.
Taking cues from Jordan Peele's Get Out and Donald Glover's Atlanta, as well as from old-school horror classics such as Rosemary's Baby and The Shining, college-set horror-thriller Master isn't lacking in well-known influences. It also isn't afraid to let the imprint left by its obvious predecessors visibly ripple through its frames. But being overly ambitious in stitching together a story that so clearly owes a debt backwards is one of this film's few missteps — that and being so brimming with ideas that not everything gets its due. Excavating the institutionalised racism that festers in the American university system is a big task, though, and first-time feature writer/director Mariama Diallo doesn't hold back. There's a slow-burn eeriness to this intense Ivy League-steeped affair, but also a go-for-broke mentality behind its dissection of deeply engrained prejudice and weaponised identity politics.
Regina Hall (Nine Perfect Strangers), Zoe Renee (Black Lightning) and Amber Gray (The Underground Railroad) play Gail Bishop, Jasmine Moore and Liv Beckman, respectively — three women of colour at a New England uni, Ancaster, with a long history. The school's past is almost exclusively tied to white administrators and students, of course, so much so that Gail is the first Black head of the college, or master. Her appointment comes as Jasmine arrives and gets allocated to a dorm once inhabited by the college's first-ever Black pupil, whose tale ended in tragedy, and as popular professor Liv tries to earn tenure. Diallo balances racial politics and the supernatural with skill; yes, the former, and the way that 'diversity' is paid lip-service to boost the university's prestige, is far more chilling than the otherworldly bumps and jumps, but both play a key part in making this a smart and haunting feature.
Master streams via Prime Video.
During his seven seasons on HBO's slinky supernatural drama True Blood, and in his 223 episodes on Home and Away before that, Ryan Kwanten navigated any actor's fair share of wild scenarios — and soapy and melodramatic, obviously. In Glorious, he's firmly in out-there territory, but as a troubled man conversing about life, love, loss, loyalty, the universe, gods, men, women and plenty more in a dank and grimy rest-stop bathroom. So far, so straightforward. Unexpected connections and cathartic chats can happen in all manner of places with all manner of people, after all. But Wes, Kwanten's character, is conversing with a glory hole. There's a powerful deity behind it, but all that Glorious' protagonist and the audience see is glowing neon light emanating from the circle between cubicles, and a pulsating orb of flesh hanging below the stall walls.
Filmmaker Rebekah McKendry (Psycho Granny), plus screenwriters David Ian McKendry (All the Creatures Were Stirring), Joshua Hull (Chopping Block) and Todd Rigney (Headless), aren't shy about their Lovecraftian nods; not thinking about the sci-fi author's brand of cosmic horror and its focus on unfathomable terrors is impossible. Indeed, this'd make a fine double with Color Out of Space — a sincere compliment given that phantasmagorical delight is adapted from the author's words, while this feels like it should've been. Aided by cinematographer David Matthews (Jakob's Wife), McKendry cements the film's clear tribute via its aesthetic and atmosphere, with vibrant pink hues contrasting with the grotty bathroom, and the claustrophobic setting doing the same with the vastness emanating from Ghat, Wes' talkative new acquaintance. That JK Simmons (Spider-Man: No Way Home) lends his distinctive tones to the movie's pivotal voice does much to set the mood, understandably, but Kwanten's layered performance, a twisty narrative and an inspiredly OTT premise executed with flair also make Glorious memorable.
Glorious streams via Shudder.
Twenty-six years ago, "do you like scary movies?" stopped being just an ordinary question. Posed by a wrong-number caller who happened to be a ghostface-masked killer with a fondness for kitchen knives, it was the snappiest and savviest line in one of the 90s' biggest horror films, and it's now one of cinema's iconic pieces of dialogue. It gets another whirl in the Scream franchise's fifth movie, which is also called Scream — and you'd really best answer it now with the heartiest yes possible. Taking over from the late, great Wes Craven, who also directed 1997's Scream 2, 2000's Scream 3 and 2011's Scream 4 but died in 2015, Ready or Not's Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett task their next generation of slasher fodder with showing their devotion to horror with all the subtlety of a masked murderer who can't stop taunting their prey. That'd be a new Ghostface, who terrorises today's Woodsboro high schoolers, because the fictional spot is up there with Sunnydale and Twin Peaks on the list of places that are flat-out hellish for teens. The same happened in Scream 4, but the first new attack by the saga's killer is designed to lure home someone who's left town. Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights) hightailed it the moment she was old enough, fleeing a family secret, but is beckoned back when her sister Tara (Jenna Ortega, You) receives the feature's opening "do you like scary movies?" call.
Soon, bodies are piling up, Ghostface gives Woodsboro that grim sense of deja vu again, and Tara's friends — including the horror film-obsessed Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown, Yellowjackets), her twin Chad (Mason Gooding, Love, Victor), his girlfriend Liv (Sonia Ammar, Jappeloup), and other pals Wes (Dylan Minnette, 13 Reasons Why) and Amber (Mikey Madison, Better Things) — are trying to both survive while basically cycling through the OG feature again, complete with a crucial location, and sleuth out the culprit using their scary movie knowledge. Everyone's a suspect, including Sam herself and her out-of-towner boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid, The Boys), and also the begrudging resident expert on this exact situation: ex-sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette, Spree). The latter is the reason that morning show host Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox, Cougar Town) and initial Ghostface target Sidney Prescott (Skyscraper) make the trip back to Woodsboro again as well.
Scream streams via Binge, Paramount+, Google Play, YouTube Movies, iTunes and Amazon Video. Read our full review.
Looking for more things to watch? Check out our monthly streaming roundup, as well as our rundown of recent cinema releases that've been fast-tracked to digital home entertainment of late.
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