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Under the radar: The best genre movies and shows you might have missed in 2022
There's a lot of stuff to watch out there. Here's what you may have overlooked this year.
Look, we get it. There's a lot of stuff to watch, and that stuff gets multiplied if you're the kind of person who likes to watch well beyond the bounds of one genre or area of interest (which is most of us). With that in mind, you're probably coming to the end of 2022 with a lot of unwatched stuff, and you're wondering what you should make time for over your holiday break, or even in the slow early days of the new year.
Well, that's where we come in. Whether you're looking for a new binge watch or a movie that you just might not have caught up with yet this year, these are our picks for the best under-the-radar genre releases of 2022.
The Bad Guys
Pierre Perifel's The Bad Guys, based on the bestselling children's books by Aaron Blabey, arrived back in the spring, and while it definitely had a great box office run and a pretty positive critical reception at the time, we know how it is. The summer movie season makes everything a blur, your kids want to go see Buzz Lightyear and the Minions, and before you know it a surprising animated feature that blends all-ages adventure with crime movie swagger has passed you by. So, if you somehow missed The Bad Guys when it dropped back in April, make some time to watch it with the family.
Okay, this is going to seem weird to some of you, because SYFY's Chucky is a regular, celebrated fixture of genre television around these parts. Here's the thing, though: Despite the warm reception the show's had so far, it could always use a bit more recognition beyond the horror superfans like all of us. Given the room to run in a long-form story, Don Mancini and company have made something truly special, an unpredictable and often surprisingly emotional new take on everyone's favorite killer doll.
Vanessa and Joseph Winter delivered one of horror's brightest indie lights this year with this film, the story of a disgraced YouTuber who tries to rebuild his audience by daring to spend one night in one very haunted house. What sounds like it could be at risk of being a one-note premise soon becomes something much wilder, as the night gets stranger by the minute, and eventually the creatures start to show up. Funny, spooky, and packing a rollicking climax, Deadstream is one of the best indie horror-comedies I've seen in a long time.
Riley Stearns' Dual already made our list of the best sci-fi movies of the year, and with good reason. It's got a great hook, a dark sense of humor, and fantastic lead performances from Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul. But despite a warm Sundance reception and a summer release, the scale of this near-future satire may have meant that you missed it in its original theatrical release. If you love clever sci-fi commentary, you should fix that.
Two friends go up an abandoned tower to reconnect and to help one of them get over their grief after a climbing accident, and end up stuck on a narrow platform with no cell signal, no way to yell down for help, and limited resources. That's enough to make Scott Frank's film intriguing, but what it does beyond that hook is what makes Fall an especially thrilling piece of pure popcorn cinema. Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner are great in the lead roles, and you'll have some trouble seeing the third act coming.
My Father's Dragon
It was a big year for animated features in theaters, but you might have missed some of the gems that made their way to streaming, including this delightful tale from director Nora Twomey. Based on the children's book of the same name, My Father's Dragon is the beautifully rendered adventure of a boy named Elmer who befriends a dragon named Boris. The 2D animation is gorgeous, the voice cast is great, and it's the kind of film that will enchant the whole family.
Orphan: First Kill
Esther returned this year with a prequel made years after the original Orphan film, and it was clear right away that Isabelle Fuhrman has lost none of her fiendish power in the intervening years. The story of the family who took Esther in before the events of Orphan, the film stands out as a slightly campy, always entertaining piece of modern horror fun, featuring a great supporting cast led by Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland.
Sadly, we might never get to see more of Paper Girls translated to live-action, but the one season we did get of the series based on the comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang was spectacular. Featuring an energetic young cast, a wonderful, adventurous past, and great writing from a team led by creator Stephany Folsom, it's an adaptation that anyone who loves stuff like Stranger Things should latch on to. Don't let the cancellation stop you. It's still worth it.
After landing plenty of praise for The Night House, Rebecca Hall turned in another searing, brilliant horror performance this year with Resurrection, in which she stars as a single mother tormented by a specter from her own past. It didn't get quite the same rollout as The Night House, but Resurrection is just as emotional, just as scary, and just as indicative of how great Hall is.
M. Night Shyamalan and Tony Basgallop's series about a Philadelphia family in the grip of a strange power returns for its fourth and final season in January, and if you're not caught up yet, you should definitely be making time for it. Packed with great performances, dark humor, and a mystery that's still alive and well after three full seasons, Servant is still quietly asserting itself as one of the best horror shows out there.
Speaking of great genre series slowly building steam on Apple TV+, there's Shining Girls, an adaptation of Lauren Beukes novel of the same name spearheaded by creator Silka Luisa and star/producer Elisabeth Moss. The story of a killer who targets women across time and the victim (Moss) who tries to get to the bottom of his secrets, it's both a great mystery show and a great horror show, with some time travel thrown in for good measure.
Something in the Dirt
The latest low-budget efforts from writers/directors/stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead is one of 2022's best genre films and one of the best examples of immediate creativity in the pandemic era. The story of two unlikely friends who try to make a documentary about strange phenomena in their apartment building, it's a thrilling story of the search for meaning and success in a world that seems to be crumbling around you, and one of their best and strangest efforts to date.
Speak No Evil
The story of two families who meet on a vacation and end up sharing a house over one fateful weekend, Speak No Evil is one of those films horror nerds really got into, but which never broke out into full mainstream attention. Frankly, its sheer darkness is not for everyone, but if you're trying to catch up on your horror viewing and you want one of the most intense experiences of 2022 in your eyeballs, it's a can't-miss journey into terror.
While it's showing up (deservedly so) on a lot of Best Of TV lists once again in 2022, I feel like certain genre fans might be sleeping on Reservation Dogs because they're not quite sure what it offers. Yes, it's a beautifully rendered dramedy about a group of fans trying to get through life, but it's also a deep dive into mythology, folkore, and the way our own superstitions influence the world around us. If you love genre TV and you haven't seen it yet, give it a shot. And frankly, it might really be the best show on television at this point, so the more people who watch it, the better.
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Jane Schoenbrun's remarkable film about an isolate girl (a terrific Anna Cobb) and her descent into the darkest crevices of the internet is one of 2022's more intimate, quiet horror films, but that's exactly what makes it so effective. If you've ever gone down a rabbit hole into the stranger corners of the web and wondered if you're truly trafficking in the forbidden, or if you've ever been oppressively lonely, it's the kind of film that will chill you to your core.