The year was rich in terms of horror cinema. Toxic masculinity, body shaming, entertainment society or pandemic, directors have seized on social issues to offer powerful, chilling but above all enjoyable films.
Abuela , by Paco Plaza (on VOD)
If the name Paco Plaza sounds familiar to you, it’s not for nothing. He’s the man behind the famous Rec saga , among others. Suffice to say that horror fans always closely follow the achievements of the latter. And his last work marked, whether it was the public of Gérardmer (where he left with the Jury Prize), or in the hall.
It must be said that Abuela is a concentrate of anguish, perfectly staged, and knowing perfectly how to play on the expectations of the spectators. Rarely have we been so afraid of the shadows, of an old lady, or of a mirror. A real success, which is worth the detour.
Men , by Alex Garland (on VOD)
The return of Alex Garland, the man behind the Ex Machina cult and the underrated Annihilation , was not unanimous. Which seems quite incomprehensible to us, as what is offered with Men is strong, rare, and striking.
A cloistered film as possible, on toxic masculinity (exploiting the idea that all men are the same), with a staging of a sharp precision, a masterful Jessie Buckley, a chilling Rory Kinnear, and where the suspense transforms into the scariest body horror .
Coupez , by Michel Hazanavicius (on VOD)
Not very convincing screams of horror, gallons of fake blood and more if you like are in Michel Hazanavicius’ latest film, the remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s Japanese zombie comedy Don’t Cut! Like his model, he stages the shooting of a penniless zombie film in a sequence shot, immersed in a parallel dimension when real zombies invade the set.
After being tortured by the absolute nullity of this parody of the Z series, the public is rewarded: from fake horrific comedy, the film becomes a true declaration of love for resourceful cinema and inventive technicians. s that can crash movies with the best of intentions.
Future Crimes , by David Cronenberg (on VOD)
Perhaps the hardest to love of this selection, but arguably the most important. For multiple reasons (return of Cronenberg with body horror , he who hadn’t done it for 20 years, presentation at Cannes), but the main one being that it’s a testamentary film, the most autobiographical of one of the most great filmmakers in history. Not nothing then.
Behind this story of sex, mutilation and an artist getting tattoos of organs growing like tumors in the XXL casting (Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart), we can as much detect a criticism of a Hollywood that does not recognize his talent , a queer and feminist reflection on sexuality, a summary of references to all her films, a reflection on the place of the author in this industry, all within a technical mastery. And in a certain form of horror, anguish and creepiness by making a perfect horror film — demanding, but perfect.
The Medium , by Banjong Pisanthanakun (on VOD)
Do you have the impression that since The Exorcist, no possession film has really had any interest? It’s already bad knowledge of the genre, not fully appreciating the work of James Wan (the first Conjuring was still a great success), and proof of non-openness to the rest of the world.
Because this year, it is on the side of Thailand that we had to look to take full view. In this case, The Medium – released directly on VOD here – presents, in the guise of a mockumentary, the story of an exorcism within a family of shamans, with diabolical efficiency and with sequences among the strongest of the year.
The Sadness , by Rob Jabbaz (on VOD)
The biggest disgust of the year, by far. And necessarily the most enjoyable. Discovered at the Gérardmer festival last February, some of his images have remained clearly engraved in our memory. We do not know, between the fornication of a foot cut by a zombie or the chewing of a still fresh Achilles heel, which was the most striking.
The fact is that for 1 hour and 40 minutes, Canadian director Rob Jabbaz offers a compendium of creepy crap, against the backdrop of a pandemic. If only here sick people are obsessed with blood and sex. In times of Covid, it’s not always easy to watch. Gory, sleazy, in bad taste. A perfect Halloween movie, then.
Nope , by Jordan Peele (in theaters)
At the crossroads of science fiction, horror and even the western, Jordan Peele offered his most ambitious but also political film this summer. Between a bloodthirsty chimpanzee and an invisible presence, the society of the spectacle becomes a horrifying spring under the camera of the director who has become a master of horror in less than ten years.
Emerald and OJ are the descendants of the invisible black horseman who nevertheless rode the galloping horse at the origin of the 24 images considered as one of the first films in the history of cinema. From their ranch in the middle of the Agua Dulce desert in California where they raise horses for Hollywood, they will be privileged witnesses to the ravages of an invisible presence. Determined to take – or take back – their place in the spotlight, they will put their lives in danger to be the first to film this threat from the sky. For their part, Peele and his prestigious cinematographer, Hoyte van Hoytema, film it with real genius.
Barbarian , by Zach Cregger (October 26, 2022 on Disney+)
The good surprise of this Halloween 2022 comes to us from Disney + – like what, everything is possible. This isn’t the first time a horror Fox film has been released directly on the parent company’s platform; nevertheless, it is, for the moment, the most interesting and rich of the proposals that the firm with the big ears could offer us.
We will avoid telling you too much, because it is the surprise of the structure of the story that is its greatest strength. His screenplay could have been nothing more than an exercise in cleverness who wants to hijack absolutely all the clichés of the genre (and manages to do so perfectly) and knows how to alternate points of view when necessary, if there weren’t any at the same time a licked realization, a held editing, a perfect casting, obvious references without being too garish (we think strongly of The Descent at times), and a more than cotton political and societal message. We pass on an end a little too much, this one detracting nothing from the malicious pleasure taken during the viewing.
Smile , by Parker Finn (currently in theaters)
We realize that Smile is the most mainstream movie on the list, but that doesn’t make it a bad horror movie. Parker Finn’s feature film, adapted from his own short Laura Hasn’t Slept, created a box office surprise at the end of the year and borrows the recipe for success from Blumhouse productions: low budget, viral marketing (from high-flying, it must be admitted) and above all a plethora of jump scares that will attract young people to dark rooms.
The story of Smile , which would serve as the perfect utopia for the Joker, relies heavily on references ( It Follows and The Ring in mind) to seduce viewers. The offbeat concept of a smile that turns into a nightmare vision works very well in front of Parker Finn’s camera, whose staging tinged with a certain emotion plunges us into the intimate introspection of the characters and their relationships (the dysfunctional family, the theme of mourning, the haunting of memories), is reminiscent of the style of Mike Flanagan. Smile, you will shake.
Bonus: Piggy , by Carlota Martínez-Pereda (in theaters November 2, 2022)
For Sara (Laura Galán), summer in her small Spanish village is above all synonymous with harassment and violent body shaming. Nicknamed “slut” by her stalkers and verbally abused by her mother, she will be faced with a dilemma when a mysterious stranger decides to attack three of these bullies. Sara knows more than she cares to admit but doesn’t know if she should speak out in the hope of saving her executioners or preserving the anonymity of this bloodthirsty stranger who seems to wish her well.
After a remarkable passage at Sundance, Piggy made noise at the Fantastic Fest, in Austin, before being rewarded at the BIFFF with the critics’ prize. First feature film by Spanish director Carlota Pereda, adapted from her short film Cerdita made in 2018, this coming-of-age is a real horror film but above all a radical proposal to evoke harassment and its dramatic consequences.
X , by Ti West ( in theaters November 2, 2022 )
Forget Scream 5 , the slasher of the year is a little nugget that caused a stir at the South by Southwest festival. With a name as simple as sulphurous, X is the new film produced by the prolific independent studio A24, which definitely never does anything like the others. Ti West’s feature film takes us back to a forgotten era of American genre cinema, gore, trying, with (falsely) cheap aesthetics – of those films that you could watch in the open air at the wheel of a convertible. It’s enjoyable, irreverent and above all far from being as stupid and nasty as a simple porn film shoot that slips into a bloody massacre.
In addition to revealing two young actresses, Jenna Ortega and Mia Goth, destined to become the next scream queen of the big screen, X is a tribute to the grindhouse productions of the 1970s. At once sexy, violent and strangely poetic in its portrayal of the old age and more specifically the sexuality of seniors, Ti West’s film rehabilitates, without reinventing the wheel, horror in its purest and most archaic form. The director has already planned a prequel ( Pearl ) and a sequel expected in the coming months, in the traditional respect of exploitation films.