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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Best of 2022: 10 Hidden Horror Gems You Might’ve Missed Last Year

Horror is, without question, still the backbone of cinema, even as cinema struggles in these uncertain times. This year saw a number of wins for the genre; original movies like SmileBarbarian, and and its prequel Pearl achieved both critical acclaim and box office success, and franchises like ScreamPredator and Hellraiser were all reignited with praised returns.

Like last year, there were a lot of horror movies to watch in 2022. This resulted in movies slipping through the cracks as the year continued, and bigger releases held the spotlight.

These ten hidden gems might have been overlooked at the time, but it’s never too late to discover them.

An Ideal Host

“An Ideal Host”

After circulating at multiple film festivals for a good two years, the Australian horror-comedy An Ideal Host quietly surfaced on streaming platforms this year. Robert Woods and Tyler Jacob Jones‘ offbeat collaboration amassed a steady stream of good word-of-mouth in early reviews. And for anyone new to this movie from Down Under, they can see why it was praised.

Here, an intimate dinner party slowly unravels as an unexpected guest worms its way past the frazzled host. The gathering has a fair deal of uncomfortable banter and interactions to endure before the real trouble begins, but there’s no turning back once that plate of chaos is served. Go in knowing nothing, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what comes up in the most hellish housewarming in recent years.



It’s a damn-or-be-damned kind of world in Luke Boyce‘s first long feature, Revealer. A peep-show dancer (Caitlin Aase) is faced with constant judgment from a pearl-clutching, pious picketer (Shaina Schrooten) outside her job. It’s only when an apocalypse happens that these two polar opposites realize they actually have something in common. And unless they want to die together, the unlikely pair has to set aside their differences, and face both inner and outer demons.

Revealer is a wonderful example of putting two diametrically opposed characters into a room together and forcing them to interact. The heavily synthesized music and neon aesthetic of this ’80s period piece will draw the eye, but the character work is what elevates this movie above others.




One of the most frank and refreshing portrayals of mental health on film this year is in Addison Heimann‘s Hypochondriac. This devastating, heart-on-sleeve story begins with a young potter who is haunted by both childhood trauma, and the fear of becoming what scares him the most: his mother. As Will (Zach Villa) wrestles with his growing concerns, he also starts to see a man in a wolf costume who is invisible to everyone else.

Hypochondriac hits Will’s emotional buttons with a sledgehammer, but Heimann is also never indelicate or inattentive. This is a finely tuned study of the effects of family dysfunction, and a beautifully open and authentic depiction of someone deathly afraid of possible, encroaching mental illness. Not everything is answered in this persuasive psychodrama, and there’s a battle for attention between Will’s mother (Marlene Forte) and Will’s inner wolf, but the movie’s best parts win out.

The Night Shift

“The Night Shift”

Jo Ba-reun‘s Ghost Mansion (also Grotesque Mansion) was first released in its homeland of South Korea back in 2021. It wasn’t until this year that the movie, now renamed The Night Shift, was delivered to other parts around the world. The Korean movie shows a horror webtoonist (Sung Joon) visiting an infamous apartment building for inspiration. As he conducts interviews with several tenants, and learns about their eerie encounters, he soon suspects these urban legends may be true.

The Night Shift uses an anthology format, but the sub-stories and characters are intertwined. There is continuity here despite the segmented storytelling. High production values and a creepy atmosphere improve the overall enjoyability as well. Be on the lookout for a tale that feels straight out of Junji Itō’s head.

The Harbinger

“The Harbinger”

Pandemic-inspired movies aren’t exactly appealing to everyone, in light of the fact that the Pandemic is still happening. So it’s only natural that people aren’t flocking to watch stories about an active illness and senseless deaths ripped straight from the headlines. Andy Mitton‘s The Harbinger, however, manages to make something meaningful and moving out of something tragic and topical.

In times where masking and curbside-shopping are still widely practiced, one quarantined family’s isolation bubble is risked when the daughter (Gabby Beans) leaves to help a friend (Emily Davis) in need. In doing so, the protagonist only attracts an otherworldly and opportunistic entity who deals in nightmares. Like in the director’s other movie The Witch in the Window, The Harbinger seamlessly blends eldritch fantasy and relevant realism. The outcome hits very close to home, but without using COVID as a simple and exploitative gimmick.

The Andy Baker Tape


“The Andy Baker Tape”

The Andy Baker Tape is a tense ride from start to finish. Popular food vlogger Jeff (Bret Lada) goes to meet his long-lost half-brother Andy (Dustin Fontaine) after their father dies in a car accident. The two don’t have anything in common other than DNA, but they get along enough to where Jeff invites Andy on an important road trip. And if everything goes according to plan, Jeff will have his own TV show.

This being a found-footage movie, it’s obvious something bad is going to happen by the end. There’s a particular kind of inevitability about Lada and Fontaine’s Pandemic-born story, yet it’s their on-screen chemistry and the approaching combustibility of their characters’ family reunion that keeps you watching.

The Loneliest Boy in the World


“The Loneliest Boy in the World”

Admittedly, Martin Owen‘s The Loneliest Boy in the World isn’t comprehensively horror in the modern sense of the word, but it does fall in the realm of macabre stories about folks feeling lost and alone. After young Oliver (Max Harwood) loses his mother, he digs up a new family from the local graveyard. His improvised parents and sister then guide him as he comes into his own in a world that he doesn’t yet understand.

Owen channels classic John Waters and Tim Burton in this quirky and colorful zombie comedy. The charming visual style is then reinforced by sincere emotion as Harwood’s character uses less-than-normal means to feel normal again. It’s affecting enough to wake the dead.




The horror of Nocebo is slow but guaranteed. In Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan‘s follow-up to Vivarium and Without Name, a successful fashion designer (Eva Green) comes down with a debilitating ailment of unknown origin. Her excruciating pain only subsides when she hires a live-in housekeeper (Chai Fonacier), a Filipino immigrant with unusual gifts.

As in Finnegan and Garret Shanley‘s previous collaborations, the story of Nocebo takes time to cook. There’s also no substantial mystique about the cause of Green’s character’s mysterious malady. However, the manner in which everything plays out from the reveal and onward is gripping, not to mention brutal.

He’s Watching


“He’s Watching”

Another homemade nightmare manifests in He’s Watching. This isn’t going to be for everyone; it’s the farthest thing from straightforward. Jacob Aaron Estes‘ latest movie is so incoherent and evasive a lot of the time that the only natural response is discomfort and maybe frustration. As two isolated siblings fend for themselves in a world plunged into Pandemic uncertainty, they detect the presence of evil in their home.

He’s Watching is a family-run movie assembled by the director and his two children, Iris Serena and Lucas Steel Estes, who each play fictional versions of themselves. Their collaboration results in a severe, hallucinatory and disquieting affair. It’s a demanding horror movie where everything feels absolutely unsafe.

The Leech


“The Leech”

It’s a season of misgiving in Eric Pennycoff‘s The Leech. This seamy comedy shows what happens when a devout and repressed priest (Graham Skipper) opens his home to two uncouth strangers at Christmastime. The host tries to reform the couple, played by Jeremy Gardner and Taylor Zaudtke, but he’s soon mixed up in their toxic relationship.

The movie’s descent into holiday hell isn’t too jarring once Skipper’s character stops ignoring his squatters’ many red flags. And after letting the story simmer, The Leech goes from lurching on the edge of spectacle to jumping straight into the fray. The chuckles come to a full stop as the movie turns black as coal.

The post Best of 2022: 10 Hidden Horror Gems You Might’ve Missed Last Year appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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