POLL: The Best Horror Films of 2022!

It’s that time of year again when we round up the best of pop culture from the last 12 months! Join us as we answer: What were the best horror films of 2022? Then, add your own opinion to our poll at the end!

The Geeks have spoken. The following films (plus a few honorable mentions) are some of the best pieces of scary cinema in 2022, from underdog survivors and shocking vacation rentals to aliens with a cowboy twist. This was the year of one-word titles and going back to the basics of horror — and the results are horrifying (in the best way). Get to know the details of these titles as well as what makes them special enough to top this year’s list!

1. Prey

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, Dane DiLiegro

There’s no greater sting than being underestimated for something you know you can do, especially when that doubt comes from those who should be supporting you. Naru is a Comanche warrior in training who endures constant scrutiny from her peers. She’s only tolerated on hunts so she can help track or provide medical aid — but that’s not what she wants to do.

Naru knows she will be a great hunter. After she sees the lights of the Predator’s crashing ship, a man in her tribe goes missing. She knows it’s not the work of a mountain lion even if nobody else believes her. In this prequel to the Predator franchise, Naru’s ingenuity proves to be stronger than any traditional hunter’s weapon in her journey to prove herself.

2. Barbarian

Director: Zach Cregger

Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long

It’s easy to take a lot of things for granted. A quiet neighborhood, good health, and the fact that your vacation rental will be empty when you finally unlock the door after a long, draining day of travel.

For Tess, an unexpected housemate is the least of her worries — as she’ll soon find out in the middle of an inconvenient rainy night. Barbarian is the type of horror film that lulls you into a false sense of “I can see where this is going.” No, you really, really can’t. This film features an unsettling mix of fear, humor, and heartbreak. It shifts endlessly, tossing the viewer around and forcing them to confront difficult situations. You never know quite what’s going to happen next. And that’s only part of Barbarian’s staying power.

3. Smile

Director: Parker Finn

Starring: Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Kal Penn

Smiles are supposed to be nice and harmless, right? Well, tell that to the likes of clowns, your childhood toys, and even spare car tires — all of which have also received the reputation-damaging horror treatment over the years. Smile is a psychological horror film with plenty of scares and vacant stares to leave you anything but happy. It was based on the director’s original 11-minute short film, turned into a full length feature.

The film follows a psychiatrist pursued by a seemingly supernatural, malevolent entity that spreads via trauma. Victims can only pass along the curse by causing psychological torment to others, typically by committing suicide — usually accompanied by the sadistic, somewhat vacant smile seen in the viral marketing for the movie. What makes Smile interesting is the increasing unreliability of the narrator, who serves as the audience’s proxy in such a mind-based horror flick.

4. Nope

Director: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun

Writer/director Jordan Peele’s latest horror masterpiece is a strange, unnerving sci-fi thriller that plays with the very ideals of the genre and Hollywood itself. Fittingly, the actual Jupiter’s Claim theme park set was part of Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights 2022.

Based in California’s ranch-filled desert landscape, Nope delivers an intense story about hunting and being hunted. Two siblings, running a failing animal actor business, seek to capture the only footage of an unidentified flying object. Over the course of the film, however, they realize perceiving the creature might be the most dangerous ride of their lives.

Nope is fascinating because it blends so many concepts: horror, western, even absurdism, et cetera. The characters are rich and dynamic, each given layers of backstory and developed with extra care. Peele is most known for his unique narratives, after all. So suffice it to say that Nope doesn’t disappoint.

5. The Black Phone

Director: Scott Derrickson

Starring: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, Ethan Hawke

The latest horror entry from Blumhouse Productions, The Black Phone is a supernatural horror film based on a short story of the same name, written by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King). This film also scored itself a maze spot at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights 2022. Its memorable marketing featured the unsettling masked visage of The Grabber, the film’s antagonist — a child abductor played by Ethan Hawke (who fans also saw this year as Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight).

The film follows the story of a young, troubled boy named Finney, who is kidnapped and left in a soundproof basement that has a seemingly disconnected black rotary phone on the wall. However, Finney learns he can communicate with the voices of the serial killer’s past victims and uses their advice to try to escape. From the production to the performances, The Black Phone is steeped in horror pedigree, making it no surprise the film stuck with audiences long after the call ended.

Honorable Mentions


Of course, plenty of other movies creeped across our screens this year and left their mark on our nightmares. Terrifier 2 carved up impressive box office stats as well as record-breaking subscription sign ups for Screambox after its digital release. Bodies Bodies Bodies infused terror with Gen Z humor, offering an original slash at the trapped-in-a-house category.

Mia Goth emerged as a modern scream queen in X and Pearl, whose viral clips made the rounds to prove Pearl is a star. And lastly, the Hellraiser reboot gave a beautifully macabre, delightfully dark interpretation of Clive Barker’s beloved horror franchise — truly a sight for sore eyes.

Which horror movies of 2022 had you screaming with delight? Did we miss your favorite? Take our poll and then let us know over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!