After looking back at the best horror of 2021, the Morbidly Beautiful team looks ahead to the horror films of 2022 we’re most excited about.
Recently, our writers shared Best Indie Horror Films of 2021. Now, our team is back to gush over the 30 upcoming horror films we can’t wait to see in 2022. Will any of these make our ‘Best Of’ list for 2022? Only time will tell, but they certainly look to be more than a few promising contenders.
While we expect many more great horror films to be announced throughout the year, the following list highlights the 2022 films we are most excited about at this time.
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (February 18, 2002 – Netflix)
The notoriety and impact of Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) on popular culture and the horror genre writ large are well documented. This influential indie horror also spawned seven additional films (sequels, prequels, and remakes) over the years, though certainly not as refined or respected as the Halloween or Friday the 13th franchises.
My love for shock horror is largely attributed to watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its first two sequels at a relatively young and impressionable age. The unforgettably grainy aesthetic, Gunnar Hansen’s hulking, horrifying portrayal of the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, and the deranged “family” of misfits helped shape my perception of what awaited me in rural Texas counties for years to come.
After lengthy delays associated with the release of Leatherface in 2017 (its subpar box-office draw), Lionsgate and Millennium Films lost the film rights and ceased work on any additional franchise entries. Legendary Pictures acquired film rights in 2018 and began developing film and television installments. Though the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic upended the initial production schedule for Legendary Pictures’ first film adaptation, principal photography began in August 2020 in Bulgaria and was finished in March 2021 after the studio’s initial directors had been fired and replaced by David Blue Garcia.
The completed film, titled Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is a direct sequel to Hooper’s original and forgoes the various mythos created in the various prequels and subsequent sequels. The plot centers around a group of friends who travel to Harlow, Texas, with visions of starting a business venture but all hopes are derailed after encountering the now 60-year-old Leatherface. Garcia claims to have used “vintage” lenses and relied heavily upon practical effects to achieve an aesthetic closely matching Hooper’s original.
I’m definitely suspect of the film’s Bulgarian location being an amenable replacement for actual rural Texas, especially after other franchise reboots like Black Christmas (2019) and The Slumber Party Massacre (2021) failed to effectively incorporate foreign locales (New Zealand and South Africa respectively). However, there’s something to be said about the prospects of seeing an older Leatherface shredding flesh and stacking bodies in 2022.
Skipping a theatrical release, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is scheduled to stream on February 18, 2022, exclusively on Netflix.
(Recommended by Matthew DuPee)
2. The Cursed (February 18, 2022 – Theaters)
Oscar and BAFTA-nominated director and photographer Sean Ellis’ new gothic thriller The Cursed will open wide on February 18, 2022, in theaters. It’s being billed as a reimagining of the werewolf legend for a modern-day audience. Formerly titled Eight for Silver, the film premiered at the last year’s Sundance Film Festival. Following its debut, Ellis has reworked the film to include an enhanced score and reduced CGI in favor of in-camera effects. He also promises a more elevated story.
The synopsis is as follows: In the late 1800s, a once-peaceful remote country village is under attack — but by who or what, no one knows. Villagers spread rumors of a cursed land, supernatural forces, and even demonic creatures, as the disappearances and killings continue. Pathologist John McBride arrives to investigate the danger, only to discover something much deeper and more sinister than he ever could have imagined.
Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon of LD Entertainment, the company distributing the film, said:
“We set out to make a genre film with an incredibly talented filmmaker. Sean Ellis has created a story that is so much more than that: it’s timely, scary as hell, and most importantly unique. We are thrilled for people to finally see Sean’s striking vision on the big screen.”
Early reviews for The Cursed have been impressive, and the trailer looks stunning — dark, atmospheric, moody, and exquisitely shot. I definitely have this one high on my watch list.
(Recommended by Stephanie Malone)
3. X (March 18, 2022 – Theaters)
Filmmaker Ti West made a big impression with 2009’s deliciously creepy 80s Satanic Panic throwback, House of the Devil, presenting him as a guy who knows how to use our fear of the unknown to ratchet up the tension and terror. While his subsequent feature films; 2011’s The Innkeepers, 2013’s The Sacrament, and 2016’s surprise Western In a Valley of Violence, weren’t quite as well-received, the announcement of West’s return to horror is still very exciting.
X looks to be another throwback, this time to the days of the grindhouse and early porn films, as a troupe of adult film actors search for a rural locale to shoot their new project, and end up getting way more than they bargained for. It’s being released by A24, the film distributors who’ve helped define “prestige horror” and whose logo incites as much anticipation among movie fans as any director’s byline.
They’ve consistently put out some of the best, most forward-thinking horror films of the past decade, so seeing them partnering with a great genre filmmaker like West is reason enough to put X on the must-see list.
(Recommended by Conor McShane)
4: Master (March 18, 2022 – Prime Video)
After watching Mariama Diallo’s sharp and witty short Hair Wolf, I was more than ready for her to get a shot at making a feature film. Luckily, for me and for the rest of the horror-hungry world, her feature Master is set to come out this year.
Master follows three Black women who have to navigate the elitist and privileged world of a New England college that happens to be built on a gallows hill from the Salem era.
One exciting facet of this film is that it stars the wonderful Regina Hall. Horror fans might best know Hall from the Scary Movie franchise. It’ll be interesting to see how Diallo tackles the often alienating world of academia in her first feature. If Hair Wolf is any indication, her keen sensibilities will make a film that is bold, timely, and creepy.
Having recently screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Master will land on Prime Video on March 18. While you wait, be sure to check out Diallo’s Hair Wolf on The Criterion Channel or Kanopy.
(Recommended by Jamie Alvey)
5: You Won’t Be Alone (April 1, 2022 – Theaters)
An isolated, foggy mountain village, homes made of straw, mud, and stone, and an ancient spirit said to roam the dark woods of 19th century Macedonia. That alone is enough information to peak interest in You Won’t Be Alone, a new drama-horror from Focus Features.
When a little girl falls victim to the spirit and is transformed into a witch, she wanders the countryside seeking out victims. But she doesn’t simply kill them, she physically inserts her body into their own in an effort to experience human existence. Such a premise sounds like a fascinating study on the loneliness of an outcast witch, robbed of her rightful existence.
Not only that, but the film also looks to explore the human experience of existing through the witch’s eyes. In addition to the intriguing premise, Noomi Rapace plays a major role in the film. Rapace is an incredibly talented actress and possesses one of the most deeply mysterious faces in film today. Her ability to make every character deeply unpredictable, both dangerous and lovable, is unmatched, and a perfect fit for a movie like You Won’t Be Alone.
Word out of the Sundance Film Festival is the film is Terrence Malick meets Under the Skin, and that is something to be excited about.
(Recommended by Jason McFiggins)
6: Morbius (April 1, 2022 – Theaters)
Originally set to release on the 28th of January, Morbius will now hit theatres on the first of April instead.
The latest push in a series of delays for the film seems to have been caused by the blockbuster success of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, which established itself as the most profitable and accomplished release of 2021. The screens which were reserved for Morbius are still earning a hefty sum by screening Spider-Man: No Way Home. Thus, the postponement by Sony makes sense. Though, it’s another frustrating blow for a film that was originally supposed to premiere in July of 2020 (delayed by Covid).
Morbius is inspired by the famous Marvel Comics property which has a very unique and interesting storyline. Michael Morbius is an antihero who becomes inflicted with a rare blood disease that leaves him severely ill. To escape the torment of the disorder and help others who are similarly inflicted, Dr. Morbius embarks on a risky game of chance. In the beginning, the gamble seems to have paid off, but it is soon revealed that something is not right. Dr. Morbius senses a mysterious change as his vampirism begins to take form.
Will his evil override his determination to work for a good cause, or will he be successful in resisting his developing bloodlust?
The character of Morbius will be played by Jared Leto, and the film will be directed by Daniel Espano (Safe House). Admittedly, there are as many reasons to be weary of Morbius as there are to be excited about it. The Sony property shares a lot in common with the recent adaptation of Venom (antiheroes struggling to retain humanity in the face of their own monstrosity), and the studio’s handling of a far more popular property does not exactly bode well for the lesser-known Morbius.
Additionally, star Jared Leto is undeniably talented — he even has an Academy Award to prove it. But many comic book fans were turned off by his hammy performance of the Joker in the much-maligned Suicide Squad (2016). Finally, neither director Espano nor writers Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama have a very promising track record. If the past is prologue, then Moribus may have a real uphill battle. Still, as a fan of the source material and someone excited for a more horror-focused Marvel film, I hold out hope.
The darker tone of the trailer is exciting. At the very least, Morbius promises something different; fingers crossed it can deliver. If it doesn’t, Marvel fans still have Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8, and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11 to look forward to. Odds are, we’re in for a pretty stellar year.
(Recommended by Stephanie Malone)
7. Insidious: The Dark Realm (April 5, 2022 – VOD)
I’m excited for the fifth installment in the Insidious series because this franchise is one of the current mainstream heavy hitters for the genre, and these films are always a lot of fun. We horror fans love a franchise, so giving us more of something we’ve been enjoying just makes sense.
For me, the Insidious films have always hit every beat perfectly. When they want to get creepy, they go all in, the incredibly atmospheric score adds to the beautifully timed jump scares, and when they want to get cheesy, they bring the cheese! Add a horror icon like Lin Shaye, and you’ve got a winner.
The Dark Realm also features debut directorial duties from Patrick Wilson which excites me because he is such an integral part of the entire Blumhouse horror universe. His familiarity with the franchise and dedication to the stories being told should add something special to the latest Blumhouse blockbuster.
(Recommended by Peter Hayward-Bailey)
8. The Northman (April 8, 2022 – Theaters)
With The Witch and The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers has cemented himself as something of a genre heavyweight. So, I’m absolutely drooling in anticipation of his upcoming movie, The Northman.
I’m something of a sucker for the whole Norse aesthetic and mythology, and Eggers makes movies that are anything but predictable and formulaic, which immediately turns me on. Add to that a killer cast — including Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Bjork, Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy, and, of course, Alexander Skarsgård — and it’s hard not to be excited for this. I’m very much looking forward to seeing if Alexander can match, or even outdo his brother in the Viking portrayal game!
In a release calendar increasingly populated with reboots, remakes, and franchise movies, it’s so incredibly refreshing to have something that’s pretty much guaranteed to be fresh and original to look forward to.
(Recommended by Mike Wrigley)
9. Hatching (April 29, 2022 – VOD/Theaters)
What happens when a mother projects her own lost dreams onto her daughter, insisting on perfection in everything she does? That’s the question that sets up the story in Hatching, a coming-of-age body horror about a young gymnast named Tinja whose demanding mother showcases the family’s “perfect” life on her popular video blog. But what seems so perfect is merely camouflage for a rotting family unit, specifically Tinja.
When Tinja nurses an egg she finds in the woods, what emerges kicks off a twisted fairy tale that alters the family forever. With biting satire and a strong performance from Siiri Solalinna as Tinja, Hatching is an outstanding and grotesque body horror with fantastic puppetry and practical effects.
Entertaining, disturbing, thought-provoking, and touching, Hanna Bergholm has crafted a winner with her feature film directorial debut. Bergholm said that Finland isn’t known for its horror movies, but with output like Hatching, maybe it should be.
At the end of June 2020, IFC Midnight acquired the distribution rights to the film. The plan was to first release the feature film at a major international festival in 2022 before releasing it in cinemas and VOD platforms. It premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2022.
(Recommended by Jason McFiggins)
10. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022 – Theaters)
Any die-hard Marvel fan knows why this is on the list.
The original Doctor Strange dropped back in 2016, and it was a welcome change of pace for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Introducing magic and wizards into MCU canon, the film included subtle touches of horror (owing to the film’s director Scott Derrickson, who also helmed Sinister) and the most transcendent visuals seen in any Marvel movie yet. Naturally, we were itching for a follow-up almost immediately.
Now, at last, it is upon us with the fabulously titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
For those unfamiliar, the concept of the multiverse is a comic book staple in which multiple universes with different events and different versions of the same person all exist in parallel timelines. It was recently established to exist within the MCU in properties like Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home. The concept of dropping Doc Strange into a multiversal crisis is a dream scenario for a comic fan. Better yet, Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi takes over for Derrickson, meaning the horror thread will not only continue but expand.
This may in fact be the first true horror film in the MCU canon, and boy does that sound like a good time at the movies.
Joining Doc Strange and his mentor Wong is none other than the Scarlet Witch, hot off her character-defining run in the Disney+ series WandaVision. Also, most intriguingly, images have surfaced of some of the film’s foes: terrifying Lovecraftian void monsters. And you thought Green Goblin was creepy as hell.
All these elements will come together to make what looks to be a signature Marvel film, possibly being to this current phase what The Winter Soldier was to a previous one. All in all, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness looks to be a scary, trippy new ride.
(Recommended by Chris Maino)
11. Jurassic World: Dominion (June 22, 2022 – Theaters)
The Jurassic Park franchise was always a grand ferryboat in the mainstream, but that still hasn’t stopped it from capturing the hearts and imaginations of horror fans. To this very day, the most believable CGI sequence I have ever seen is in the original, when the T-Rex breaks out of her paddock.
The four sequels have all had their share of praise and vitriol. Ask a Jurassic Park fan what their favorite sequel is. Go ahead, there will be very different answers for very different reasons. I really enjoyed The Lost World, but my favorite sequel is definitely Jurassic World. I like the vibe, brightness, and vibrant color palette.
Colin Trevorrow is taking the directing reigns once again, and this time the film will feature the return of Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum, as well as BD Wong, Chris Pratt, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
It is recommended that the 5-minute trailer “prologue” be watched before you go to the movies, which is where the film will open on June 22, 2022.
(Recommended by Jamie Marino)
12. The Black Phone (June 24, 2022 – Theaters)
When it comes to Blumhouse, as well Ethan Hawke and Scott Derrickson collaborating again after Sinister, count me in!
Another excitement is that this year’s theatrical release of The Black Phone is a short story adapted from Joe Hill’s 2005 book 20th Century Ghosts. The timing of The Black Phone is parallel to our current climate of more awareness in missing persons and cold cases. After all, the notion of being abducted could happen to any one of us. One of our biggest fears is having no way out of that danger, not being seen, not heard, nor finding any assistance.
With over twenty-two million views on YouTube, the trailer has me on edge. My heart is racing as I can tell this is going to be an emotional ride on all my senses. The Grabber, played by the brilliant Ethan Hawke dawning the devil’s mask, is a stunning visual allure that will imprint on our psyches for years to come.
The main character, Finney Shaw, played by Mason Thames stands out with a promising performance as he is abducted by The Grabber. I love the connection he kinetically has to the past victims in the basement in which he is held. With the help of the innocent and departed, and his psychic bond to his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), Shaw may just stand a chance at escaping his captor.
I can see that The Black Phone is going to examine our worst fears of captivity on a deeper level. Most importantly, the film seems to recognize just how connected we all are when it comes to tragedies and horrors. Collectively, we really do experience these human conditions together, and I’m looking forward to a wild and pensive ride this June.
(Recommended by Laura A. Sloan)
13: Bed Rest (July 15, 2022 – Theaters)
Lori Evans Taylor, who is writing the next Final Destination, is the writer-director behind the upcoming Bed Rest. The film will star Melissa Barrera as Julie Rivers, a pregnant woman who is moving into a new home with her husband as they embrace a fresh start. Upon being ordered to mandatory bed rest, Julie begins to slowly unravel as she suffers through the monotony and anxiety of her new constraints.
Soon, terrifying ghostly experiences in the home begin to close in on Julie, stirring up her past demons and causing others to question her mental stability. Trapped and forced to face her past and the supernatural, Julie fights to protect herself and her unborn baby.
Fans will recognize Barrera from her impressive starring role in 2022’s first big horror film, Scream (which debuted to an impressive $30.6 million box office). She also starred in the film adaptation of the musical In the Heights.
The script for the film was completed in 2015 when it made that year’s Blacklist for top unproduced screenplays, and production wrapped in December 2021. I love a good female-driven horror film, and though we haven’t seen a trailer yet, this one has me excited and hopeful.
(Recommended by Stephanie Malone)
14. Nope (July 22, 2022 – Theaters)
Few films have entered the canon of horror classics quite as quickly as Jordan Peele’s Get Out, a timely, darkly funny, deeply unnerving masterclass in sustained tension and unease. With the success of his follow-up Us, Peele established himself as one of the most hotly anticipated horror filmmakers in the game, with fans salivating for his next project.
Little is known about his upcoming third feature Nope, other than a tantalizingly strange poster and the news that it will feature his Get Out collaborator Daniel Kaluuya, alongside Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun. In an age when most movies’ best surprises are spoiled long before they’re released, it’s refreshing to know next to nothing about Peele’s next project, which only makes it more exciting.
Luckily, he’s built up plenty of goodwill from his first two films, and Nope is likely to be another beautifully written, exceptionally acted exercise in creepiness from a modern icon.
(Recommended by Conor McShane)
15: Salem’s Lot (September 9, 2022 – Theaters/HBO Max)
Having been adapted into a two-part television miniseries of the same name in 1979 and again in 2004, the Stephen King novel Salem’s Lot is once again getting adapted — this time for theatrical audiences. It’s headed our way in time for Halloween from New Line Cinema, the studio behind the wildly successful adaptation of King’s IT.
The film is being written and directed by Gary Dauberman, the man behind Annabelle Comes Home. Dauberman also wrote It: Chapter Two and the Annabelle series. Adding to the film’s street cred is producer James Wan, who needs no introduction. Wan is producing along with Mark Wolper and Roy Lee, who also produced IT, the highest-grossing horror movie ever made.
Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale, The Strangers: Prey at Night), son of screen royalty Bill Pulman, will be playing the role of Ben Mears, the author and one-time resident of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine.
Seeking a break from his career after the death of his wife, Miranda, and a current case of writer’s block, he returns to the Lot. He decides to write about the Marsten House, at the same time developing a passionate romance with college graduate and town resident Susan Norton (to be played by Makenzie Leigh of Gotham and The Slap). Mears soon finds himself battling the powerful and terrifying vampire Kurt Barlow, who seeks to turn the Lot’s residents into more of his kind.
Salem’s Lot is one of King’s most beloved and successful books of all time, ranking third among his top releases, just behind Carrie at #2 and The Shining at #1.
Though the 1979 miniseries directed by horror legend Tobe Hooper is widely considered a landmark in the vampire subgenre, having inspired films such as Fright Night (1985) and Joss Whedon’s hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television adaptation did take several liberties with King’s source novel. Many characters were combined or merely deleted, along with certain subplots, and the character of Barlow is vastly different in the miniseries from how he is in the novel. Additionally, because it was made for television, many of the bigger gorier parts had to be cut.
Gary Dauberman has stated he is very excited about tackling the film and making it as true to life as the book as possible. That’s something both King fans and genre fans in general should be very anxious to see.
(Recommended by Stephanie Malone)