It’s never too early to start preparing a must-see Halloween viewing list (or if you’re like me, you’ve been doing this all year), and we’re seeing quite a tempting lineup of upcoming horror movies for the fourth quarter of ’22. I figure there’s no better time than the present to start filling up your calendar – and to that end, we’re here to help in your quest for the newest and latest in spooky cinema.
Before I forge ahead, I should point out the release dates on some of these titles are still a little… well, squishy. I just wanted to make sure you knew that going in, because in this post-pandemic age, nothing seems certain anymore. A couple of drop-dates are still unknown, subject to change at a moment’s notice (it happens) and might even get pushed to next year (which would suck, but it also happens). Of course, we’ve got our eyes laser-focused on the latest horror news, so feel free to start penciling these movies into your schedule and we’ll keep you up to date.
This list is pretty eclectic too, so there should be something for just about every horror fan out there, from reboots and long-awaited sequels in legendary genre franchises to a few twisted new concepts that are already generating advance buzz on socials. In some cases, the trailers alone are giving folks cold-sweaty nightmares.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at a new crop of upcoming horror movies on the near horizon, all of which have been growing fan anticipation, curiosity, and more than a few skin-crawling chills. Let’s go!
Barbarian (September 9, In Theaters)
Bill Skarsgård’s unforgettable incarnation (or reincarnation, really) of Pennywise the Dancing Clown in Stephen King’s IT is probably still shuffling somewhere in the shadows of our darkest dreams. But at first glance, it would appear his role in Barbarian is a human being… or at least he appears to be so far. But we still don’t know who or what is the real threat in this scenario.
Barbarian takes place at an Airbnb, which a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) has booked for an overnight stay ahead of an important job interview. When she arrives late at night, a young man named Keith (Skarsgård) answers the door, and she discovers the place has been double-booked. The pair agree to share the rental for the night… but when Tess hears noises beneath the house, she discovers a long, dark tunnel leading deep beneath the basement. We’re itching to know who (or what) she finds down there, and how Keith is involved. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait too long…
Dark Harvest (September 9, In Theaters)
This one’s been quietly creeping up on us over the past 15 years. It was first announced in 2007, just one year after the source novel was published, and now I’m hoping it fulfills its potential to become another Fall favorite – not only because 30 Days of Night director David Slade is at the helm, but the premise suggests an eerily comforting (but still terrifying) fusion of Stranger Things, IT, and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Based on the award-winning bestseller by Norman Partridge, Harvest revolves around a cursed town whose residents are stalked every Autumn by an all-too-real boogeyman. The killer is known by many names, but most folks call him “Sawtooth Jack.” A group of courageous kids have been performing a yearly ritual called “The Run” to keep the supernatural killer at bay. But in order to fully break the curse that maintains a death-grip on their community, they must confront Jack face-to-face.
Pearl (September 16, In Theaters)
Ti West’s grindhouse-style slasher X quickly raced to the top of many horror fans’ Best of 2022 lists, and it’s presently my Numero Uno. For good reason, too: for my money, it’s one of the best slasher movies of the past decade – a decade which has been overflowing with that self-aware ‘80s lo-fi touch. But X stands out for West’s slow-and-steady building of suspense, likeable characters (mostly), gallons of blood and the most unsettling horror villain I’ve seen in a long time. The eighty-something Pearl is played expertly – beneath full-body old-age makeup effects – by Mia Goth, who throws herself into the role with raw passion, as well as playing a completely separate character.
The surprise bumper at the end of that film revealed that West had secretly shot an entire feature-length prequel at the same time – again starring Goth as Pearl, only this time in her freckle-faced youth. We may finally get to see what was only hinted in the first film – Pearl’s strange obsession with sex, her equally skewed view of the world, and her eventual descent into madness. It looks absolutely insane, and therefore well worth checking out. If it’s even half as good as X, it’ll be worth the price of admission.
Goodnight Mommy (September 16, Prime Video)
I was a bit apprehensive about this English-language remake at first, since I’m a major fan of the original 2014 film by Austrian duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, who also created the equally disturbing follow-up The Lodge. But I’m willing to give this one a shot – and not just because I’m curious about how the new version will handle the original twist ending (which shouldn’t have been much of a surprise for seasoned horror fans). I’m also a fan of the brilliantly twisted miniseries Brand New Cherry Flavor, and its co-showrunner Matt Sobel (who also directed two episodes of that show) has a Lynchian flair for the bizarre that could be ideally suited to this new take on this paranoid tale of psychological horror.
If you missed the original, I’m not sure if it would benefit you to see that one first, because I don’t know whether the plot of the remake is a direct copy, or takes the story in new directions. The premise is the same: a woman returns home to recover from extensive cosmetic surgery, but her unusual behavior leads her two sons to believe it’s someone else under those bandages. I can’t imagine Sobel strays too far from that scenario, or from the climactic reveal and grim, disturbing ending. Still, if you have Prime Video, it should be worth a look which is why it makes our upcoming horror movies list.
Jeepers Creepers: Reborn (September 19, In Theaters)
There’s still a stigma attached to “The Creeper” franchise, thanks to some very bad behavior by director Victor Salva that you’ve probably heard about (I won’t get into that here; just Google it). But Salva is nowhere to be found behind the latest installment of the film series beyond the initial creation of the Creeper character, who is one of horror’s more unique and chilling monsters. This time, it’s Iron Sky director Timo Vuorensola at the helm, so at least you can see the movie with a clear conscience (at least that’s how I’m dealing with it), and given the over-the-top premise of both Iron Sky films, it should be weird as hell.
The trailer suggests the latest life cycle of The Creeper, who again has been lying dormant for 23 years before emerging to seek new victims. He’s also apparently traded in his old “BEATINGU” truck (one of the scariest vehicles in horror history), although the replacement model looks like it’s also been buried for 23 years. The Creeper’s new reign of terror begins when he resurfaces to stalk horror fans at a Halloween festival in Louisiana. We’ve known this one has been in the pipe for the past year, but after lengthy delays it’s finally headed for the big screen.
The Munsters (September 27, On Demand)
You can always count on rocker-turned-director Rob Zombie to polarize horror fans over nearly every project he’s even glanced at (with the exception of The Devil’s Rejects, which I consider a near-masterpiece), and this feature-length return to the story and characters from the groundbreaking ’60s monster sitcom is no exception. Personally, I’ve always thought the original series would have been pretty amazing with a groovy ’60s color scheme, but since it also taps into Universal Classic Monsters nostalgia, black & white works well too. But from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s not the wild, cartoony colors that have fans’ undies in a bunch.
Rob Z has been name-checking Munsters imagery and themes since his early days in White Zombie, and of course his mega-hit solo single “Dragula” takes its title directly from Grandpa’s souped-up coffin dragster, so I’m actually surprised it took him this long to get around to adapting it. Maybe Universal is still a bit gun-shy after House of 1000 Corpses, and balked at the idea of a sleazy, gory, profanity-laced update to one of their most beloved family series… but it turns out Rob’s taking a detour into PG territory for this one, which is promising in itself. It doesn’t hurt that we get some cool cameos – including Cassandra Peterson (not playing Elvira this time), genre legend Dee Wallace, and original cast members Butch Patrick & Pat Priest.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism (September 30, Prime Video)
Grady Hendrix, one of the brightest rising stars in horror fiction, first got my attention with his comprehensive, nostalgic and eye-popping art book Paperbacks from Hell (which spawned a growing line of reprints and originals with the same lurid ‘70s-’80s flair). At the same time, Hendrix was breaking through in the fiction world with his 2016 novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism – a smart, affectionate and surprisingly terrifying tribute not only to The Exorcist but to horror’s VHS era. The book has amassed a huge and enthusiastic fanbase since its publication (hit up YouTube for some very enthusiastic reviews), so expectations are pretty high for this one.
Exorcism stars Elsie Fisher (Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as a high school sophomore who’s not only troubled by her own adolescent problems, but more than a little bit concerned about her BFF’s bizarre changes in behavior – which seem to go beyond teen angst and rebellion and into the realm of demonic possession. If this adaptation – premiering on Prime Video – manages to capture the same dead-on satire and over-the-top horror as the novel, it has the potential to be a great kickoff to the Halloween movie season. Along with the new series Paper Girls, it might be enough to stave off hunger pangs for the fifth season of Stranger Things.
Smile (September 30, in Theaters)
Unless you’ve been on a sabbatical from virtually all media (if so, welcome back to our world), the trailer for this ultra-creepy supernatural mystery ends with one of the most unexpected and gasp-inducing jump scares in recent memory. I won’t spoil that moment for you if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, but I’m including it here because…damn. The trailer usually ran before Nope in theaters, and since I’d seen it online previously, I made a point of watching the audience’s reaction: an incredibly loud collective gasp, followed by a burst of nervous laughter. That alone is a pretty good indication that Smile would be best experienced on the big screen in a packed theater.
The trailer has more nightmare nuggets scattered throughout, including some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reveals and strange, almost-subliminal whispers on the soundtrack, hinting that there’s a bizarre mystery to solve, and very little time to solve it. Combining elements of It Follows and The Ring, the story finds Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) pursued by a deadly curse somehow linked to her own past. The curse manifests itself as a grotesque smile on the faces of its victims – beginning with one of Cotter’s patients, who almost immediately kills herself. It’s then a race against time as Cotter tries to unravel the mystery before she suffers the same fate.
Hellraiser (October 7, Hulu)
This reboot of Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic has been kicking around Hollywood for so many years in one form or another, I’d pretty much written it off completely… until the announcement came that genre genius David Bruckner (Southbound, the Night House, The Ritual) would be taking the helm, which got me interested again. Since I heard the story would likely adhere more closely to Barker’s source novella The Hellbound Heart, exploring the sexual ambiguity of the interdimensional S&M entities known as Cenobites, all the way down to casting trans actress Jamie Clayton (Sense8) in the role of the villain we’ve all come to know, love and fear as Pinhead (although there’s no such character in the book), I remain intrigued.
I’m not anti-remake as a rule, and I can usually tell an intriguing new spin on the source material from a senseless cash-in – and let’s face it, Dimension Films has been squeezing the last few pennies out of the franchise for years just to retain rights to the story and characters. I’m also a bit disappointed Barker himself has been sidelined as far as the screenplay is concerned, though David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) comes with some heavy genre cred, and I’m a big fan of Bruckner’s output. That said, I don’t exactly have high hopes for this one – especially since it’s skipping cinemas and headed straight to Hulu – but I’m willing to give it a shot.
Halloween Ends (October 14, In Theaters & on Peacock)
After the meh performance of Halloween Kills – a rather disappointing follow-up to the incredibly scary 2018 franchise reboot from Blumhouse – I’ve said a little prayer to the movie gods (namely John Carpenter, who serves again as Executive Producer and supplies the chilling score) that the third film’s script has a much tighter focus, with fewer pesky diversions and occasionally cringey dialogue (“Evil Dies Tonight!”), and lots more Jamie Lee Curtis (who’s also an EP on the trilogy).
I’m going to venture a guess this chapter’s title not only signals the ultimate destruction of nearly-unstoppable franchise boogeyman Michael Myers, but possibly provides a fittingly heroic end for Curtis’s legendary final-girl-turned-badass, Laurie Strode. I’m totally cool with that, as long as Laurie is more closely involved in Michael’s fate – because that’s where Halloween Kills kinda dropped the ball in favor of clunky fan-service. Carpenter himself has gone on record to say this final chapter is unlike any Halloween film you’ve ever seen (and he’s seen some stinkers in his time), and I hope that means director David Gordon Green and writing collaborator Danny McBride manage to send off the series with a bang.
Piggy (October 14, In Theaters)
I first saw Carlota Pereda’s amazing short Cerdita when it was released on YouTube horror channel ALTER a couple of years ago, and it left me more than a little shook. Far more complex than just a morality play about body-shaming, it creates an uncomfortably real nightmare scenario that every bullied kid has faced in some form or another. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of teenage sadism, it’s not hard to imagine how a victim might take advantage of a lethal coincidence to exact sweet revenge.
It’s a story well worth expanding, and that’s exactly what Pereda has done with Piggy, whose protagonist Sara is fat-shamed by the vacant teen girls she reluctantly tries to hang with – mainly in an attempt to maintain a tenuous friendship with her childhood pal Claudia. Things take a dark turn when Claudia gives in to peer pressure and joins the others in tormenting Sara… until an even darker circumstance presents her with a moral conundrum: a serial killer kidnaps all of her tormentors, and deliberately leaves her behind. She can easily identify the kidnapper… but does she really want to? The short suggests the abductor somehow understood Sara’s pain and rage, and he gives her a knowing look implying “this will be our little secret.” It left me with some uncomfortable questions… all of which I hope are answered in the feature-length version.
V/H/S/99 (October 20 on Shudder)
I can already hear the groans of “crap, not more found footage,” and you’re more than entitled to your stance on that time-worn format. Me, I like to think the POV, first-person, screen-life or mockumentary approach to horror is more of a stylistic choice than a subgenre of horror in itself, and there have been some skin-crawling masterpieces in that style over the years. I’m not saying all the V/H/S anthologies rank high among them – the individual chapters are more situations than stories, with payoffs that are often hit-and-miss.
Since Shudder picked up the franchise ball last year with V/H/S/94, there’s been a spike in the popularity of “analog horror” with web series like The Backrooms, which may lead to a mini-revival for the format. I actually enjoyed ‘94 quite a bit – it’s a step up in quality from the lackluster VHS: Viral, though not as balls-to-the-wall insane as V/H/S/2. Here’s hoping this installment throws a few new twists into the formula.
The Lair (October 28, In Theaters)
The main reason I’m looking forward to this gritty action-horror piece is the presence of director Neill Marshall – who not only created one of the best (in my opinion) horror films of the past quarter-century with 2006’s The Descent, but also channeled new mojo into the werewolf subgenre with his debut film Dog Soldiers.
The Lair appears to blend elements of both, with its tale of an RAF pilot whose plane is downed in Afghanistan, forcing her to seek refuge in a seemingly abandoned underground bunker. Of course, it’s not abandoned at all – the complex contains the still-living results of gruesome experiments to create super-soldiers by splicing human DNA with an unknown species – one of possible extraterrestrial origin. After a bit of a rough spot with his witch-hunt period piece The Reckoning a couple of years ago, it looks like Marshall is returning once again to classic form.
Prey for the Devil (October 28, In Theaters)
You’ve probably heard about the recent revival of The Exorcist franchise, which seems to be hitching its future to the current wave of demonic-possession cinema that includes some strong entries like Veronica or Godforsaken, and unfortunately more than a few clunkers like Neill Blomkamp’s disappointing Demonic. It’s hard to say which side of the fence Prey for the Devil will fall, but if the trailer is any indication, there may be a decent story and strong central character to hang the film’s many shocks and shudders on. We’re not ultra optimistic, but hey – it’s still cool looking enough to make our upcoming horror movies list.
What may set Prey apart from the legions (see what I did there?) of Exorcist wannabes is protagonist Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers), a young nun who believes she has been called by God to combat a rising tide of demonic possession. This evil uprising has become so overwhelming that the Vatican has secretly reinstated special schools worldwide to train priests in the rites of exorcism, but historically only men have been trained to perform the ritual. When Sister Ann’s skills are revealed, she may be the only hope against a powerful and malicious entity with a mysterious connection to her past.
Run Sweetheart Run (October 28, Prime Video)
Delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, writer-director Shana Feste’s thriller about a client dinner gone badly, terribly, horrifyingly wrong premiered in Sundance in 2020 and is now being released on Prime Video in partnership with Blumhouse– and it’s about damn time, too. Star Ella Balinska has grabbed the attention of horror fans with her role in Netflix’s now-cancelled Resident Evil series, and this project could further solidify her cred as a horror heroine. Feste is the creator of spicy web drama Dirty Diana, which was toplined by the likes of Demi Moore, Mackenzie Davis, Lili Taylor and Rosa Salazar (to name just a few), Prime Video might be just the right launchpad for her first horror movie.
Sweetheart stars Balinska as Cherie, who nervously accepts an arranged blind date with the handsome Ethan (Pilou Asbæk), who gives a charming first impression, which (naturally, since this is a horror film) is merely a mask for his evil nature. It seems Ethan gets a thrill out of hunting women in a Most Dangerous Game scenario, with Cherie next in line for his nocturnal pursuits. Once his monstrous core is revealed, Cherie spends virtually the entire film on the run; if she manages to evade Ethan for the entire night, he promises to leave her alone… but really, would you trust this guy to hold up his end of the bargain? Feste uses the tropes of the against-the-clock thriller to dissect more than just toxic masculinity; it’s a horror story about paranoia, over-sexualized social “norms,” and relationships in general.
Bones and All (November 23, In Theaters)
It’s pretty obvious the studio is packaging this cannibalism-themed romance as art-house or “elevated” horror (I hate that term BTW), as the promos depict it as more of a road movie with emphasis on the love story between two good-looking young people (Timothee Chalamet & Taylor Russell), basically dodging the whole “by the way, these kids eat people” aspect of the plot. Maybe that’s a deliberate misdirection, but I doubt it, because the basic synopsis is already known to horror fans – thus no shocking OMG reveal. But I can’t say that for sure, and the teaser doesn’t really help fill in some of the blanks.
Maybe the full-length trailer will let more of the horror elements come gushing out… either way, it looks like a stylish and ominous tale, with good performances at the heart of it. If the script is smart and original, Bones could be another Best of ’22 contender.
There are more titles coming, so be sure to keep watch for new and upcoming horror movies and release dates, because we’re just getting started!