2022 will go down in history as one of the best years for horror films in the last two decades. And the same was true over at Shudder. They repeatedly go above and beyond for their subscribers and the horror community in general.
And a large part of that is debuting a new original or exclusive film just about every single week of the year. So we just wanted to show our appreciation for Shudder as we look back on all their new releases this year. Here are our picks for the top 10 Shudder Original Movies of 2022!
Note: We are focusing primarily on Shudder Original films versus Shudder Exclusive films.
10. Dark Glasses
While not his best giallo film to date, it was refreshing to see Dario Argento return to directing after nearly a decade. His more recent filmography didn’t quite live up to his golden age, but Dark Glasses was a fun throwback to styles of decades past.
Everything from a murder mystery, to gory death scenes, and his signature slick style, it almost felt like a 70’s film in tone and look, although with modern technology, which made things interesting. Shudder brought back a legendary director and it remains one of the highlights of their 2022 release schedule.
9. Christmas Bloody Christmas
Just in time for Christmas this year, Shudder released (both in theaters and on streaming) another great addition to the list of killer Santa movies. The first half of the movie feels very much like a conversation from Clerks, although as a horror fan who’s worked retail, the characters’ dialogue felt very much at home.
But what really gets this movie on the top 10 list is its introduction of RoboSanta+, a Terminator-esque killing machine that combines everything we love about killer Santas and AI robots gone rogue. Even just the way he moves goes very far into uncanny valley, which is very much the point here.
8. Mad God
The fact that Phil Tippett completed this project after 30 years (with several periods of inactivity) is nothing short of amazing. Putting his special effects experience to use from films like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Robocop, Tippett crafted (literally) this stop motion surreal masterpiece that is DIY in every way, shape, and form.
It’s less a traditional movie, and more an arthouse experience, minus all the pretentiousness that usually comes with it. Mad God feels much closer to a 70’s surreal European film, but it’s a visual spectacle in almost every single frame, especially when you realize it was all created practically.
Following a disgraced social media influencer who’s doing a livestream stunt in a haunted house, Deadstream is the perfect representation of modern internet culture. It captures the highs and lows, all while breaking down its protagonist, making him more and more honest with himself and the audience as the horror grows worse and worse. It’s funny and ridiculous at times, but it’s also very heartfelt. For someone who usually isn’t a fan of found footage, it’s a step above the rest; starting off like Grave Encounters, but going full Evil Dead by the end!
6. Speak No Evil
Starting as an awkward vacation with strangers and ending as a downright disturbing and bleak horror movie, Speak No Evil and its characters go through a massive transformation. Granted, it’s very much a slow burn, but if you let the suspense build until the third act, those final minutes are very much worth it. There’s nothing supernatural or otherworldly, just a horrific realism about the despicable things that human beings can do to another…
5. Blood Relatives
Written, directed, and starring Noah Segan (Knives Out), Blood Relatives is equal parts heartfelt and poignant and hilarious. The whole estranged father/daughter dynamic has been played out in drama before, but adding the vampire twist brings in a lot of comedy, as well as something shared that the two can bond over.
It has comedic and silly moments, but it also has some dramatic ones, with both tones being played out perfectly by its two leads Noah Segan and Victoria Moroles. It felt like a fun, fresh, modern take of a vampire story. Plus it featured a hilarious cameo by Josh Ruben!
With V/H/S/85 due out in 2023, this franchise shows no signs of stopping, and this year’s V/H/S/99 brought another quintet of horror vignettes. We get haunted houses, a sorority prank gone wrong, a disturbing torture porn based around a game show, a beautiful woman with a deadly secret, and a Y2K party involving rituals and demons.
We’ve certainly gotten a lot of 80s nostalgia in recent pop culture, but this movie did a great job of showing the 90s in a similar light. Plus what’s great is each segment almost feels like an entirely different subgenre so that no matter which kind of horror is your favorite, there’s something for everyone.
3. They Live in the Grey
Dealing with themes of grief, trauma, and abuse, They Live in the Grey uses supernatural horror to explore all these ideas. In many ways the ghost and demons are a metaphorical representation of the figurative demons that everyone is dealing with.
But in going a step further, it cannot be expressed enough just how creepy this movie really is. It takes the approach of long, drawn out, uncomfortable suspense and it’s very much effective. Not the type of movie that is trying to jump out and scare its audience. Rather it leaves them feeling unsettled long after watching.
Written and directed by two parents and their teenage daughter, this is such a fun and surreal music video inspired supernatural coming of age story. The one thing that ultra-low budget indie films have over big blockbusters is the passion and creativity behind them and that’s definitely on display here. The fact that “Hellbender” is also the name of the family’s band in real life just provides another cool detail that adds to this wild ride that you willingly want to go on.
1. The Sadness
There are zombie movies and then there’s this. Brought to us from Taiwan, distributed in the US by Shudder, The Sadness holds absolutely nothing back when it comes to gore, violence, or just outright brutality as civilization crumbles.
As its title suggests, it also makes commentary on humanity itself. It’s hardly the first zombie film to hit all these tropes, but it does them particularly well, in a way that rivals even Train to Busan. There were a lot of great films released on Shudder this year, but the raw, visceral quality of this film simply can’t be topped!
What were some of your favorite Shudder original movies this year? Let us know in the comments!
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