Where there’s horror, there’s death, and 2022 has been a tremendous year for horror. The genre is thriving, as evidenced by the robust offerings of surprise sequels, massive franchise returns, and original stories on every level, indie and otherwise. That means a slew of ingenious and highly creative onscreen kills that made us groan, cringe, cheer, and even cry.
We’re saluting the ten best kills in 2022 horror movies, which means massive spoilers ahead.
You’ve been warned…
10. Bodies Bodies Bodies – Machete Mistake
Party host David (Pete Davidson) gets found with his throat slashed shortly after the hurricane knocks the party out in A24’s Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, sending the rest of the partygoers into paranoid panic as they try to figure out which among them is his murderer. That panic escalates into full-blown violence until only a few remain. Only in the horror-comedy’s final moments is the culprit revealed to be none other than David himself. While trying to impress his TikTok followers by opening a wine bottle with his kukri machete, David accidentally slices into his jugular instead. Not only is this reveal fittingly hilarious, but it leaves the survivors with the sinking realization that the entire evening’s lethal chaos was for naught.
9. Halloween Ends – Bad Babysitter
The opening sequence to this trilogy closer establishes empathy for lead Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) straightaway when he’s stuck with the worst kid in Haddonfield on Halloween night. Young Jeremy (Jaxon Goldberg) is ruthless in his bullying, escalating his babysitter’s torment by pranking and locking him in the attic. Corey panics, hurling himself against the door until it finally springs open with enough force to knock Jeremy right over the railing to his death. It’s not even the goriest or most creative kill of the movie. But it delivers such a potent jump that it instantly makes you sit up and pay attention. This death sets the entire plot in motion, but the brazen onscreen death of a child- a horror taboo- and the accompanying loud thud make this so memorable.
8. Prey – A Warrior’s Death
The Predator wastes no time culling its way up the food chain in Prey, beginning with small animals and building toward a brutal assault on more worthy adversaries. While several fur trappers receive gruesome demises, Taabe’s heroic sacrifice stands out. Taabe (Dakota Beavers) rides in on a horse to distract the Predator away from his sister Naru (Amber Midthunder). The fierce warrior holds his own in hand-to-hand combat, inflicting severe damage upon his enemy. The Predator’s advanced technology ultimately undoes Taabe; he accepts his sacrifice, encouraging Naru to finish it. Not only does this emotional death give Naru the drive and knowledge to defeat her alien enemy, but Taabe’s honorable end course corrects Billy Sole’s off-screen death in 1987’s Predator.
7. X and Pearl – Pitchfork Symmetry
Ti West’s X introduces an aged Pearl (Mia Goth), so envious and wrathful over her lost youth and its hampering of her libido that she’s willing to kill. The first significant kill of the film, in which she repeatedly stabs R.J. (Owen Campbell) to the point of decapitation, is a showstopper that heralds a turning point. But it’s the suspenseful pitchforking of Wayne (Martin Henderson) in the barn that edges this death out for a spot on this list. Why? It’s the brilliant editing employed to create nail-biting tension, released finally by a gnarly enucleation. More importantly, West brought Pearl’s story full circle in the prequel Pearl, creating a symmetrical companion piece to his ’70s slasher. Mirroring Wayne’s death, the Projectionist (David Corenswet) wanders into Pearl’s barn only to meet the pointy end of her pitchfork moments later. The callback doesn’t end there; Pearl’s alligator pal ensures no one will find the Projectionist’s body by devouring it once Pearl’s done. What could be a thrilling but simple death in X becomes enriched with the context of Pearl.
6. Barbarian – Skull Crush
Zach Cregger’s feature debut closed out its first act with one of the year’s most shocking moments. Barbarian introduces Keith (Bill Skarsgård) as an ambiguous character; like Tess (Georgina Campbell), it takes a while to determine whether Keith is dangerous. When guards are lowered, Cregger introduces the actual threat; a terrifying Mother (Matthew Patrick Davis) charges from the dark, underground corridor, grabbing a screaming Keith and smashing his head against the wall repeatedly until his skull caves in.
5. Nope – Crowd Digestion
It’s unsettling when Jordan Peele’s Nope finally reveals the truth about where the horses wind up in Jupe’s (Steven Yeun) Star Lasso Experience; he’s been feeding them to the mysterious object in the sky. It all goes catastrophically awry when he gathers the crowd for the next sacrificial feeding; only the UFO ignores the horse and sucks up the attendees instead. Peele doesn’t stop there with the harrowing surprises, though. Jupe looks up at the object overhead, the screams from within almost deafening. Then the camera reveals where the Star Lasso attendees wound up via fleeting images of petrified bodies getting funneled through claustrophobic spaces. It increasingly becomes clear that this UFO isn’t a ship but an entity that’s just devoured a human buffet. The shot of Jupe’s wife getting digested alive and the screams ending abruptly says it all. It makes the entity’s later purging of waste even more macabre.
4. Scream – Dewey Devastation
Radio Silence’s “requel” introduced a new cast of suspects in Scream, seamlessly integrating them with the legacy cast. The passing of the torch to a new generation came with growing pains for the newcomers and legacy survivors, thanks to Ghostface. While that means Ghostface ruthlessly dispatched new and old favorites, none devastated as much as the perennially charming Dewey Riley (David Arquette). Dewey gets a devastating hero’s sendoff when he helps Sam (Melissa Barrera) save her sister at the hospital. But one second’s distraction while attempting to finish Ghostface for good results in a gutting demise. This one still leaves a painful mark.
3. Studio 666 – Mid-coitus Bisection
Trying to inspire creativity for the Foo Fighters’ tenth album instead winds up summoning demons from Hell in this one, offering up an entertaining and bloody horror-comedy that serves as a band spotlight first and foremost. Frontman Dave Grohl gets possessed and embarks on a murder spree, and with Hatchet III director BJ McDonnell at the helm, the deaths get elaborate and messy. Keyboardist and ladies man Rami Jaffee finally woos next-door neighbor Samantha (Whitney Cummings) late in the film, but his euphoric high over the hookup gets cut short. Literally. As Rami and Sam get it on to Jackyl’s “The Lumberjack,” Grohl waits until the chainsaw solo kicks in to rev his own chainsaw up, bisecting the pair in half and painting the room blood red.
2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Party Bus Massacre
Director David Blue Garcia’s legacy sequel might’ve polarized on the story front, but it gets credit for delivering a rarity for this franchise: an actual massacre. Leatherface (Mark Burnham) goes on a violent rampage, resulting in several unforgettable kills worthy of any “best” list. But the gore-filled sequence that sees Leatherface slaughtering his way through a party bus of hipster investors satisfies the most. They pull out their phones and threaten to cancel Leatherface, and complete carnage ensues. The bus floods with their blood and entrails.
1. Terrifier 2 – That Scene
Full disclosure: Terrifier 2 is a SCREAMBOX exclusive, meaning it’s a Bloody Disgusting title. Affiliation aside, no other death comes close to rounding out the year’s best onscreen kills than that scene. You know the one. After crossing paths with Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and pal Allie (Casey Hartnett) at the costume shop, Art the Clown shows up at Allie’s door. She makes the fatal mistake of calling him a mime, and it triggers an extended kill sequence like no other. Art entertains himself by mutilating the teen beyond recognition. Allie endures broken bones, losing her eye, getting scalped, sliced, maimed, and doused in salt and bleach. It makes for one of the year’s most elaborate and excruciating kills. Then director Damien Leone twists the knife further when Allie’s mom comes home to find Art posing her body in a blood-drenched bedroom. The clencher? Allie’s still alive. Her dying breath gasps out a call to her mother, and it’s beyond brutal.