Full disclosure: I did not get to everything. There is just so much horror out there! But I’ll say that this was a great year for spooky stuff, with high-budget adaptions and original series plus remakes that hold up.
TV (well, streaming service) horror continues to lead as the most innovative format for telling scary stories, but we had some great podcasts and books as well. Films were a bit of a mixed bag – legacy sequels are starting to wear thin, particularly if they aren’t that well done. It’s like we’re back to “mediocre to bad installments that everyone goes to see anyway.” But we had some gems!
Let’s get into it, going by medium.
Scream (2022) – a cool fun time. Better than some in the series but can’t top the first or second one. I talk about it more in-depth in another post here.
Halloween ended…and like, for a film, it was good. For the closing chapter of the Halloween franchise, it was less good, and when looked at as a whole, the 2018-2022 revival timeline is sloppy and incoherent, with a second film that doesn’t do much and storylines in Halloween Ends that should have been planted in Halloween (2018).
As a die-hard Grady Hendrix fan, I enjoyed My Best Friend’s Exorcism, but I don’t think it fully held up against the book. A few of the changes made sense, but some of them grated on me—particularly the sanitizing of “DBNQ (Dearly But Not Queerly)” into “LYLAS (Love You Like A Sister).” I get it—maybe wouldn’t be a popular saying in modern parlance, but to change it was inauthentic. A change I approved of, however, was not killing the dog. (Damn you, Grady!) But in the end (which was another lackluster part of the movie) who doesn’t love a faux-80s horror film?
The Pallbearers’ Club by Paul Tremblay – classic “was it supernatural or wasn’t it” New England Gothic Tremblay fare, beautiful and heart-breaking, and starring two punks I loved very much.
The fourth and final installment of Tales From the Gas Station came out in March and it was genuinely a perfect solution to my favorite weird and wonderful horror comedy. A story about mutant raccoons that never takes itself too seriously, this book somehow also teaches us a lot about grief and how to move forward afterwards. I’ll miss the gas station at the edge of town, but it couldn’t have had a better closer.
I’m pretty hard to scare, but Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey did exactly that. We’ve got Vera, returning to her childhood home because her mother is dying, and the shards of their relationship can still cut. Pretty standard fare? Oh, yeah, and her dad was a serial killer. I also don’t think you’ll see the end coming because it is coke-era King levels of metaphor-made-real and also it is SUPER gross.
Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett was a solid 2022 ghost story and The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf is a nice winter thriller to set the mood for snowed-in nights.
The Midnight Club: oh my god, I white-knuckled through this because I do NOT do sad. Beautiful, but a rough ride (terminally ill teenagers telling ghost stories is a hell of a premise. It’s based on the Christopher Pike novel.) It’s also not standalone, so don’t expect everything to tie up in episode 10.
Archive 81 proved that more podcasts should be adapted into series because hot damn was it good.
See my review of Devil in Ohio here. It’s nothing special, but it’s a nice mood-setter for October.
Parkdale Haunt’s final season had me FEELING things—and not just terror. The production of this one is FABULOUS, and I would kill for any of the characters, but particularly Judith.
We also got new seasons of Haunted House Flippers and Unwell, plus a fun little newbie called Badlands Cola. Knifepoint Horror doesn’t really do seasons, but we got some great new episodes—except what was the deal with the laundry one (“cleanse”)? And, to shamelessly self-promote: a piece of mine was on Thirteen, another anthology with self-contained episodes. (It’s called “Contortion”—look it up!)
I discovered a new microfiction podcast called Hallway to Nowhere and if I do not get more episodes soon, I will scream. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
And we’re getting new Magnus Archives?????? Everything is amazing.
Check back next month for an overview of what to look forward to in 2023!