Top 2022 Horror Movies Ranked so You Know What to Watch — Even After Halloween

A review of some of this year’s most chilling movies

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From left, Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Brandon Perea in “Nope.” Kaluuya and Palmer play a sibling duo who wrangle horses for Hollywood productions in “Nope” before many of their horses begin to mysteriously disappear. (Universal Pictures/TNS)

Ellie Symons, Writer

With the start of November, carved pumpkins are being taken off of window sills and costumes are left to collect dust. Unfortunately, this means the wave of releases of new horror movies is starting to die down. For those still trying to catch the best scary movies of the year before it’s too late, it’s important to know which movies to prioritize, so I ranked some of 2022’s most popular horror movies. 

 

      1. “Nope”

“Nope,” directed by Jordan Peele, is appealing to both the casual horror movie watcher and those interested in films with a deeper message behind them. The film follows both the main plot, centered around Emerald and OJ, (played by Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya) and their attempts to kill and gather evidence of a human-eating, flying hole monster, and the secondary plot, featuring a violent monkey that has gone loose on the set of a TV show. Both stories were equally important to the message of how fame and money can torment people. These plotlines were interesting and slightly complex, aided by the cinematography that made every shot feel suspenseful and purposeful. The use of extreme wide shots made humans on screen feel small and helpless when measured up to the monster. 

I found myself rooting for the characters every step of the way, making scenes that would have only slightly spooked me, enthrall me due to my attachment to Emerald and OJ. The film does this by presenting the personality of the characters when they are separated from the main  conflict and by giving their backstory leading all the way up to childhood.  I found myself attempting to discover the meaning behind each scene while simultaneously being captivated by the plot. “Nope” combines horror with science fiction and mystery and somehow manages to still feel realistic through its accurate portrayal of LA and human natures. Although some parts felt eerie, the only truly terrifying parts were when the monster consumed its victims. Overall, it was my favorite of these movies, but it was also the least scary.

        2.“Smile”

“Smile,” directed by Parker Finn, follows the story of Rose, a psychologist who witnessed the unsettling death of one of her patients. Rose later learns that by viewing this death, she inherited a curse that causes those it inhabits to see things that aren’t there, and eventually possesses those afflicted to kill themselves with an unnatural smile on their faces. Although the movie may rely on too many cheap jumpscares, the premise of it is scary enough to keep viewers engaged. When there were no jumpscares on the screen, the film used the anticipation of one to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. When portraying a conversation between Rose and another character, it cuts between the characters  in each shot rather than showing the two of them at once. This increased my fear during my viewing experience and kept me guessing between each cut if one of the characters would display a haunting smile. 

“Smile” used the common fear of losing control over yourself to frighten its viewers.  I wish Rose’s character could have also kept me interested in her fight for self-control, but although some backstory was given to her character, she did not undergo meaningful character development. There is an interesting underlying metaphor about trauma since the victims of the smile curse pass it on to others by traumatizing them, thus continuing the cycle. However, I thought it was too obvious to contribute to a deeper purpose since the method of spreading the curse was revealed almost immediately. If anything, it would work better as a critique of its genre — a movie featuring a random cycle of sadness and pain with no clear beginning, end, or reasoning. In fact, this cycle felt reductive of actual issues relating to mental illness, showing that there are no ways to end the cycle of trauma and healing, when in reality that could not be further from the truth. In the final minutes of “Smile,” just as you think Rose will learn to break this cycle, the movie departs from what could have been a much more satisfying ending and instead sets itself up for a sequel. I believe that this movie had an interesting concept and was still enjoyable to watch, but could have been done so much better in terms of message and characters.

       3. “Bodies Bodies Bodies”

“Bodies Bodies Bodies,” directed by Halina Reijn, follows the hurricane party of several wealthy young adults that results in a murder mystery. The characters begin to play a game (aptly titled Bodies Bodies Bodies) in which one player gets “murdered” and the group guesses who the murderer is. This takes a turn for the worse when it is discovered that one of the “dead” has actually been killed. The film is supposed to be a comedy as well as a horror, and although some of the jokes landed, they felt messy.  

One of the biggest problems was the characters – although the acting was decent,  I found each character to be intolerable or simply boring. As the stakes were raised, my anticipation did not rise with it because of my lack of connection to the characters. There were some visually intriguing shots with the use of bright colors in dark lighting, but the cinematography alone could not always keep me interested. It felt too Gen Z — like if you let a 13-year-old that spends too much time on TikTok make an (admittedly funny) horror film. Overall, the film felt hollow, and I would recommend this only as background noise if you’re looking for a few laughs or scares.