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The Best Horror Movies of 2022 & 2023

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Top 22 Absolute Best Movies on HBO Max

The Best Horror Movies of 2022 & 2023: With all of the horrors Americans are facing daily — a gun crisis, attacks on women’s rights, a Supreme Court hell-bent on legislating back to the olden days — it can be a difficult to engage with the artificial terror of scary movies.

Fittingly, many of the year’s best titles tapped into this anger and fear. Themes of environmental decay (“Crimes of the Future”), the oppression of women (“Men”), toxic internet culture (“Scream”), surveillance (“Watcher”) and sexual repression (“X”) loomed large, linking fantastical scares to very real fright.

Before the countdown, some honorable mentions:

*Parker Finn’s “Smile” is the best crowdpleaser of the year, filled with effective jump scares, a spooky score, twists and suspense that is tailor-made for date night.

*Joseph and Vanessa Winter’s “Deadstream” skewers YouTube culture with a charming and funny haunted house tale which takes several cues from the handmade charm of Sam Raimi’s early films.

*Ti West’s “Pearl” is a chilling sequel to his other film this year, “X,” and feature’s the year’s best horror performance from Mia Goth, which demands awards attention.

*Mariama Diallo’s “Master” doesn’t deliver the scares, but it’s a compelling haunting tale which explores big ideas, held together by a strong lead performance from Regina Hall.

*Toby Meakins’ “Choose or Die” has some compelling imagery and a charming throwback premise, but the killer video game script can’t sustain a feature-length runtime.

*Though overlong and in need of a script doctor to punch up the jokes, “Studio 666” is a fun romp for rock fans — and a charming showcase for the Foo Fighters’ late drummer Taylor Hawkins.

*David Blue Garcia’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was a disappointment, but featured one of the year’s best gore scenes, courtesy of Leatherface invading a party bus.

14

Fresh

Fresh

Photo : Hulu

A perfectly-cast Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan star in this rom-com-turned-cannibal nightmare, which brilliantly builds a budding romance for 33 minutes before unleashing a sharp twist and a darkly comedic opening credit sequence. Stan goes wonderfully off-the-rails as a illicit salesman who is falling a bit too hard for his latest source of human meat. Edgar-Jones is scrappy as the woman trying to lead an escape, and Lauryn Kahn’s script dodges choices that would make her lead seem too gullible. “Fresh” never loses steam, even through a violent climax that doles out justice with a bitter aftertaste.

Stream “Fresh” on Hulu.

13

The Cursed

THE CURSED, (aka EIGHT FOR SILVER), front, from left: Amelia Crouch, Alistair Petrie, Simon Kunz, 2021. © Elevation Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : Courtesy Everett Collection

Criminally overlooked due to a theatrical release opposite milquetoast hits such as “Dog” and “Uncharted,” this early-1900s werewolf tale remixes classical mythology with some frightening new visions. “Yellowstone” scene-stealer Kelly Reilly shifts into a different gear as the mother of a cursed son, and Boyd Holbrook is solid as a werewolf hunter with a dark past. Directed with a steady hand by Sean Ellis and taking advantage of beautiful, foggy France shot on 35mm, “The Cursed” is sure to gain an audience when it hits a key streaming service.

Stream ‘The Cursed’ on Hulu.

12

Men

MEN, Jessie Buckley, 2022.   © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : Courtesy Everett Collection

Alex Garland’s latest nightmare is an all-too-timely fable about men controlling and gaslighting women. Effectively a two-hander, “Men” stars the brilliant Jessie Buckley as a woman vacationing in the British countryside after the suicide of her husband. Unfortunately, she’s surrounded by dozens of men who resemble a sinister Rory Kinnear, who gamely portrays nearly all of the other characters with wavering levels of hostility toward her. Although the film offers very little insight into gender dynamics, there are several indelible scenes which crank the tension up to 11. And with an incredibly divisive and disgusting final act, it’s a film designed to spur more discussion with each new audience.

Stream ‘Men’ on Prime Video.

11

Scream

scream 2022

Photo : Paramount

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the directing duo who helmed 2019’s clever horror mystery “Ready or Not,” revived the “Scream” franchise with a better-than-expected new chapter. Legacy characters (Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell) share screen time with a sharp young cast (including Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega and Jack Quaid), with plenty of twists and red herrings along the way. By revisiting some of the franchise’s best notes without being overly beholden to the past, the meta-by-design “Scream” is able to keep things fresh and avoid potential pitfalls along the way.

Stream ‘Scream’ on Paramount+.

10

Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Photo : IFC Midnight

A comedy of manners turns into the year’s bleakest vision, as two families, one Danish and one Dutch, meet on vacation, gathering at the latter’s home in order to shake out of a stale routine. The gathering becomes increasingly uncomfortable as polite disagreements and cultural misunderstandings devolve into something far more sinister. With claustrophobic direction from Christian Tafdrup and a clever, cruel script written with his brother Mads, the tension is ratcheted and released to several breaking points, ending up at a finale guaranteed to make you cancel your next trip.

Stream ‘Speak No Evil’ on Prime Video.

9

X

X, Scott Mescudi, 2022. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : Courtesy Everett Collection

One of modern horror’s most compelling auteurs, Ti West roared back to the big screen with his first frightening feature since 2013’s “The Sacrament,” and it was worth the wait. A “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remix featuring a van full of ponographers (including Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Brittany Snow and Scott Mescudi) clandestinely shooting their next film at the guest house of a conservative old couple, the blood and surprises comes quickly. Goth is a standout in a sneaky dual role, and West’s control of his material and ability to manipulate the audiences’ exceptions creates one of the year’s most fun rides.

Stream ‘X’ on Hulu. 

8

The Menu

THE MENU, from left: Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, 2022. ph: Eric Zachanowich /© Searchlight Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : ©Searchlight Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Mark Mylod’s pitch-black comedy about the world of foodie culture turns the screw on a dynamite cast of character actors. Ralph Fiennes is a scene-stealer as a prestigious chef who has been pushed to the brink of madness by his rich diners and designs one last meal as his artistic statement to the world. The always-engaging Anya Taylor-Joy is wonderful as Fiennes’ foil, and Mylod’s perfectly balanced tone keeps the audience consistently squirming and laughing.

7

Watcher

WATCHER, Maika Monroe, 2022. © IFC Midnight /Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : ©IFC Films/Courtesy Everett Collection

Eight years after her breakout in “It Follows,” Maika Monroe stars in another film where she’s constantly looking over her shoulder, in the best stalker movie since 2020’s “The Invisible Man.” Monroe stars as Julia, a lonely expat living in Bucharest, aimless while supporting her career-focused husband. She’s convinced that someone across the street is watching her and becoming increasingly bold in pursing her around the neighborhood…might it be the murderer she keeps seeing on the evening news? “Watcher” muddies the colors of a post-“Rear Window” story by writer and director Chloe Okuno and showcases the vulnerabilities of a woman living in the city. Yet Julia is no pushover, and she’s an excellent cypher for an audience destined to spend the following days peering in on their neighbors and checking around every corner.

Stream ‘Watcher’ on Prime Video.

6

The Black Phone

THE BLACK PHONE, Ethan Hawke, 2021. © Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Sinister” and “Doctor Strange” creative duo C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson collaborated once more on this feature adaptation of a Joe Hill short story in which “The Grabber” (Ethan Hawke) abducts children in ’70s Colorado. The film evokes the spirit of Hill’s father Stephen King’s best work, as kids grapple with supernatural abilities in order to defeat a psychotic villain. The script is sturdy enough to keep emotions swelling as much as frights, as it’s filled with the most lovable scamps this side of Hawkins, Indiana. Hawke chews all the scenery as the oft-masked Grabber, in a frightening physical performance that begs for more appearances.

Stream ‘The Black Phone’ on Peacock. 

5

Resurrection

Resurrection

Photo : Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

This surreal and unnerving revenge film from writer-director Andrew Semans stars a never-better Rebecca Hall as a woman whose life starts to unravel when she begins seeing her abusive ex (a charming and menacing Tim Roth) around her neighborhood haunts in Albany. Hall’s performance — all control until she’s swiftly unmoored — is frightening in its vulnerability: How many of us could lose everything if our center of gravity was knocked just a bit off-center? While most of the movie is ice cold, a bloody and outrageous final act spins the tale into grand guignol, a devilishly literal expression of heartbreak between the leads. A devastating last shot, hazy and overlit, somewhere between dream and nightmare, will haunt viewers long after the credits roll.

4

Nope

"Nope"

Photo : Universal Pictures

Jordan Peele’s third film “Nope” doesn’t reach the sublime heights of “Us” or “Get Out,” but this ambitious sci-fi spectacle certainly advances his scope as a filmmaker. Without giving away the surprises, an oddball cast of characters (played by Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott and Steven Yeun, all excellent) contend with something that looks a lot like a flying saucer causing commotion at horse ranches. While large swaths of the film play more as an adventure than horror, there are several indelible scenes and images, including the sitcom shoot gone wrong which opens the movie, an all-time fake-out scare in the middle and a haunting shot of alien physiology. Shot beautifully by Hoyte van Hoytema, “Nope” reveals even more on repeat viewings.

Stream ‘Nope’ on Peacock.

3

Barbarian

BARBARIAN, Georgina Campbell, 2022. © 20th Century Studios /Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : ©20th Century Studios/Courtesy Everett Collection

Zach Cregger’s genre debut “Barbarian” benefits from a tasty teaser trailer which doesn’t spoil any of the film’s numerous twists. Suffice to say that things don’t go too well for Tess (Georgina Campbell), who’s just trying find a safe place to stay while she’s in Detroit for a job interview. Sketch comedy alum Cregger obviously loves the genre, and knows exactly how to manipulate the audience expectations for unique scares, creating a quirky rhythm through the film’s distinct acts. By marrying modern fears with old-school horror technique, “Barbarian” will surely become an annual Halloween watch.

Stream ‘Barbarian’ on HBO Max.

2

Crimes of the Future

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, Kristen Stewart, 2022. © Neon / Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : Courtesy Everett Collection

David Cronenberg’s latest foray into body horror was, strangely, less disgusting than advertised, but far more tied to the legend’s other inhuman quirks than could have been predicted. The lightly-sketched plot involves Viggo Mortensen as a man who grows extra organs in a ruined-Earth future, where his partner (Léa Seydoux) surgically removes them for captive audiences. Things become complicated once the government starts to get involved, and we’re introduced to a world of superfans (including a wacky Kristen Stewart), assassins and children who eat plastic trash cans. Cronenberg keeps the proceedings as cold and clinical as his characters, with long stretches of dialogue accentuating the gloss of artificiality that is as fascinating as it is alienating. Those who can dip into Cronenberg’s wavelength will be richly rewarded.

Stream ‘Crimes of the Future’ on Hulu.

Bones and All

BONES AND ALL, from left: Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, 2022.  ph: Yannis Drakoulidis /© MGM /Courtesy Everett Collection

Photo : ©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet bring a unique electricity to Luca Guadagnino’s road trip romance, in which two young cannibals realize they can’t survive without each other. Blood flows, spurts and is the lifeblood of this film, told in startling vignettes as Russell’s Maren learns she’s not alone in the world in craving human flesh. With dreamlike cinematography setting the backdrop for unforgettable characters like Chalamet’s Lee, Mark Rylance’s terrifying Sully and a nightmarish cameo from Chloë Sevigny, “Bones and All” is an ambitious and emotional work of art that pushes the boundaries of modern horror.