2022 has been a pretty scrumptious year, especially one of the best when it comes to horror thrillers. With a wide array of thrillers ranging from horror to action, here is a list encapsulating the must-watch thrillers of this year that one should not miss. (Not ranked)
Nope (dir. Jordan Peele)
Jordan Peele was always a well-known figure in the entertainment sphere, but his shift to directing films put him in a different light. After making back-to-back acclaimed films, “Get Out” (2017) and “US” (2019), his third directing venture, “Nope,” is much larger in scale, consisting of grand visuals by Hoyte Van Hoytema (also the cinematographer of “Interstellar” (2014) and “Dunkirk” (2017)]. This film is definitely worth watching, especially for people who like a tinge of dark humor with a dose of horror-thriller elements. Its unique genre-blending and politically charged take on UFO films make it all the more intriguing.
Thirteen Lives (dir. Ron Howard)
A film based on the real-life event of the Tham Luang Cave rescue, where a junior football team, along with its assistant coach, gets trapped inside a cave. Oscar-winning director Ron Howard [known for “A Beautiful Mind” (2001)] manages to dramatize this event into a survival thriller that has both empathetic warmth and a tense atmosphere, making the audience feel like active members who understand the struggle of the characters on a more personal level.
The Black Phone (dir. Scott Derickson)
This film is directed by Scott Derickson [“Doctor Strange” (2016) and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005)] and also falls under the horror-thriller category. It is very much atmospheric in nature and has every element, be it a few minutes but effective jump-scares or some really scary revelations that’d definitely creep one out. Unlike others, this one is more of a serious film lacking humor and involves a sadistic serial killer who targets children. Its simplistic essence makes it worth watching, as it has a very basic premise, yet it manages to put one on edge.
Decision To Leave (dir. Park Chan-wook)
After a 6-year gap, Park Chan-wook [director of “Oldboy” (2003) and “The Handmaiden” (2016)] is back with his new romantic-mystery film, which also fetched him the Best Director Award at Cannes 2022. Here, the plot is woven around an insomniac detective who falls for the wife of a dead man whom he is investigating. Even though it has a very simple and common premise, the treatment of the film makes it interesting to watch and re-watch. This film demands complete attention and is not a relaxing evening flick.
Athena (dir. Romain Gavras)
The film takes place in France, where a riot kicks off between protestors and the police following the killing of a 13-year-old by some unidentified policemen. It starts off with a brilliantly choreographed and well-executed 11-minute long take, perfectly setting the intensity of the film from the get-go. With a runtime of 97 minutes, the film is intense and anxiety-fuelled, leaving one no time for even a loo break.
The Outfit (dir. Graham Moore)
If one likes well-written films set in a limited locational setting, like “The Hateful Eight” (2015) and “Knives Out” (2019), then this crime thriller is definitely their type! The film focuses primarily on Leonard, who runs a tailor shop in a mob-infested area. The film marks the directing debut of an Oscar-winning script writer (“The Imitation Game,” 2014), Graham Moore. It is an old-school type of chamber drama done correctly with a taut script and boasts crisp dialogue, interesting set pieces, and a great performance from Academy Award winner Mark Rylance.
X (dir. Ti West)
“X” is about a crew that goes to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere to shoot an adult film, but what follows next is for the viewers to experience. This film uses well-known horror-slasher film tropes, paying a perfect homage to the 1974 classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Dealing with themes of Christianity, a right-wing sense of morality, and family, “X” can be called a revisionist slasher with majorly thrilling and breathtaking elements.
Pearl (dir. Ti West)
“Pearl” in the first 10 minutes is easy and sweet, giving a major Hollywood Musical vibe, but just when one starts to think so… it goes through this tonal shift, which starts to creep into one’s skin. Quite rarely, 2022 gets to see both “X,” the sequel, and “Pearl,” the prequel, back-to-back. This one, however, manages to surpass “X” and gives the perfect backdrop to the character of Pearl. This Ti West directorial was so striking and powerful even legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese could not stop singing its praises.
Monica, O My Darling (dir. Vasan Bala)
If one has experienced the quirky ride of Vasan Bala’s “Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota” (2019), then one’ll know what to expect here. If not, get ready to be welcomed into the world of a deliciously enticing meta-neo-noir film full of hilariously twisted characters played by an amazing ensemble cast led by Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, and Radhika Apte. The visuals perfectly complement its retro-themed music, making the film a sensory delight. All these elements will definitely keep one glued to their seat.
Vikram (dir. Lokesh Kanagaraj)
The Kamal Haasan-led action thriller is an all-guns-blazing mainstream masala entertainer, perfectly suited for a lazy or tired winter evening. While the positives of the film rest in its structure, the heavy lifting is done by the cast. Also, being a multi-starrer, this is the perfect example of a film that gives equal space to each of the respective actors. Vigilantes, Cops, and drug-fuelled gangsters, all-out-action, with the icing on the cake – Anirudh’s adrenaline rush-inducing score; it is the perfect blend of Tarantino meets Tamil mainstream masala. Just grab a bucket of popcorn and simply enjoy this Kanagaraj flick. It is pure, undiluted fun.
So, from a year filled with hundreds and thousands of films belonging to varied genres, some worth your time and some not, this list will definitely help one especially, the thriller lovers, to choose a film which one may want to watch, sparing their valuable time. The list tried to capture the various essence as shown in the thrillers of 2022, some being set in confined spaces, some being vast and some being spooky in a serious way, and some in a comical way.
Apart from these films, one can also try out “The Barbarian (2022)”, “Don’t Worry Darling (2022)”, “Bullet Train (2022)”, “Smile (2022)”, and “Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022)”, “Scream (2022)”, “Fresh (2022)”.