2022 was full of horror films. With the likes of Smile, The Black Phone, Scream and Barbarian and many others, there was something for everyone. While some have done better than expected, like Smile and The Black Phone, others like Halloween Ends and Jordan Peele’s Nope, have had more mixed receptions. While horror is a wide and varied genre, certain sub-genres tend to trend. Lately, films like Winne the Pooh: Blood and Honey and Cocaine Bear have been trending, with many people excited for these less polished and out-there horrors, are audiences wants changing?
2022 has seen at least one horror film hit theatres or a big Netflix release (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) a month, with March having the horror-coded Morbius. So there were plenty of options. Some of these were returning franchises, like Scream or Halloween Ends, some were original stories from directors familiar with the genre, like Nope or The Black Phone, and others had more cult followings such as Men or X. While many of these have been commercially successful, critically, some films that seemed like sure hits have been met with a more mixed response. Scream was mostly positive, and did well enough to warrant a 6th entry (without Neve Campbell), but it much of it revolves around knowledge of previous films, especially the first.
By contrast, Halloween Ends was mostly considered a disappointment by audiences and critics, although some did appreciate it for trying to do something different. Despite the first entry being praised, the second part of the trilogy Halloween Kills was polarising. For the most part, audiences loved it, while the critics didn’t. This latest entry seems to have pleased neither, but it does have fans on both sides.
Jordan Peele‘s Nope on the other hand did better with critics than audiences, being less of a horror like his previous efforts Get Out and Us, instead having more in common with Speilberg’s Jaws. While Alex Garland’s Men was widely regarded as one of the director’s weakest efforts, even by its fans.
A New Breed of Terror
While the above may have had much hype and marketing around them, they were not the biggest success stories for horror. Although they all did respectably at the box office, many lower-budget horrors have dominated both the conversation and the box office this year. Films such as The Black Phone, Smile and Barbarian have all earned far more than their budget, and have been well received by audiences.
The likes of Cocaine Bear and Blood and Honey seem to be following this trend, a lower budget, focusing on a simple (even if absurd) premise. Terrifier 2 has proven to be in the same vein. While the original film has become a cult classic, the sequel has received attention from a much wider audience and is considered an improvement. Perhaps the rise in these smaller-budget horrors could help induct some more villains into pop culture. It’s been a while since a slasher villain has entered the conversation alongside the likes of Michael Myers, Freddie Kruger or Jason. Perhaps Art, the Clown could join Pennywise, while Cocaine Bear and Pooh enter the conversation.