Kult-Zilla’s – Essential New Movies Of 2022 !!!

1. // The Batman

One of the most highly anticipated new films of 2022, and The Batman delivered on so many levels. First of all it had an incredibly tough act to follow with Christopher Nolans near perfect ‘Dark Knight Trilogy’ setting the benchmark for all future Batman movies. And although we’ve had Ben Affleck’s version of the character in the DC Cinematic Universe, the movies have been patchy at best and have never felt like ‘Batman’ films in the true sense of the notion. And as DC look to put together a run of films that can rival what the competition over at Marvel have been producing over the last decade, it seems that getting back to basics with the jewel in their crown was the way to go.

It is was Matt Reeves (Cloverfield / Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) who won the golden ticket and was chosen to write and direct the first standalone Batman for ten years, and he put together a fine ensemble cast including Robert Pattinson (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Colin Farrell (Oz / The Penguin), Zoe Kravitz (Selina Kyle / Catwoman) and Paul Dano (The Riddler). Reeves brings a gloriously dark tone to the movie which sits somewhere between Nolan’s films and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992), with an added clear influence from David Fincher’s dreary rain soaked serial killer classic, Seven (1995). The Batman takes a strong Film-Noir influence, and shows us the true detective side to the character, a dark storyline and a real seedy underbelly of Gotham.

2. // The Northman

The third movie from one of cinemas most intriguing modern directors Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse / Witch), who has created a highly stylised visual Viking story loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The movie is wonderfully shot with a dark colour palette, and tells a tale of revenge as a young Prince named Amleth, wages a life long vendetta against his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang The Girl In The Spider’s Web) who murders his father King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke The Purge) and takes his mother Queen Gudrun (Nicole KidmanEyes Wide Shut) as his bride. After escaping his uncle’s wrath the child grows up to be a fearsome Berserker warrior (Alexander Skarsgard True Blood) and Eggers shows us a savage and brutal raid sequence as the Beserker tribe pillage a settlement.

Amleth disguises himself as a slave in order to infiltrate his uncles Icelandic settlement, and his fighting skills soon come to notice as he plays and wins a violent game achieving himself a higher status and a night with a slave woman of his choice. From here he bides his time, waiting for his destiny to take place and typically for Eggers there are moments of subtle horror buried deep within the narrative throughout. His reunion with his mother, as he makes himself known to her is an intriguing scene between the two characters. She claims she was complicit in his fathers murder and the relationship takes a dark turn as she portrays her character as pure evil. Eventually he is forced to kill his mother before meeting his uncle at the foot of a volcano (The Gates Of Hell) for a final duel of hand to hand combat. This is a beautifully shot sequence as they fight in near darkness, lit only by the lava burning the ground around them. The Northman is a highly enjoyable film, deep, engaging whilst taking a uniquely spiritual and mystical look at Viking lore.

3. // Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

The stand out movie of a patchy Marvel Phase 4 so far, and directed by horror legend Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) who returns to the superhero genre after filming his Spider-Man trilogy earlier in the millennium. The sorcery of Doctor Strange allows for mind bending special effects to essentially go anywhere the imagination can take them. And when it was announced the imagination was going to be that of Sam Raimi, expectations were high. The film opens with a visually stunning set piece set somewhere between the fabrics of the multiverse, with the movie diving straight into the action and showing a darker element to Dr Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch Star Trek Into Darkness) as he appears to be willing to sacrifice the life of inter dimensional traveler America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez).

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness showcases sumptuous visual effects during the multiverse travelling and gloriously colourful creations of the other universes the characters travel through. There are plenty of Raimiisms littered throughout including a cameo from cult legend Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead / Army Of Darkness) adding a comedic touch with a nod to his character Ash. And of course there are many more glorious horror elements created straight from his Evil Dead rule book as Wanda the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen Wind River) raises the dead and Doctor Strange appears as a visceral Zombie version of himself, in the darkly gothic feel of the final act. A brain twisting new addition to a now mammoth collection of inter-linked Marvel films, and one that shows that there is still some life in the franchise yet.

4. // Prey

Prey is the latest instalment in the Predator franchise, which began of course with the classic Sci-Fi action flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987. And released some 35 years later, Prey is arguably the finest of all of of the sequels so far. And although it’s competition has been patchy at best, Prey is without question a breath of fresh air for the series, stripping back the narrative with more of a minimalistic approach where just one, more primitive Predator faces off against a Comanche native Indian warrior girl, in gloriously shot forest locations.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), the film stars Amber Midthunder (The Wheel) as Naru, who dreams of stepping out of the shadow of her skilled hunter brother, and proving herself as a warrior to her tribe. In order to do so, she heads off to hunt what she believes is a mountain lion that has been killing animals in their area. But of course it is the alien Predator that is out there in the wild waiting for her. And following a number of engaging action sequences, one of which notably involving a bear, the movie culminates in a final one v one battle which nods back to the first vintage film, with Naru having to use her brain in order to outsmart the brawn of the intergalactic killer.

5. // Hellraiser

The latest in a long line of sequels to Clive Barker’s 1987 horror classic, which introduced us to the world of the sadomasochistic Cenobites, inter-dimensional demons who are brought into our realm to claim the soul of any human who completes a mysteriously powerful puzzle box. Barker’s tale most notably introduced us to a Horror Icon in the Hell Priest Pinhead, brought to the screen by English actor Doug Bradley. This is an intriguing reboot of sorts, although it does not exactly retell the original story, and is a standalone tale created with a much higher budget and to a far greater marketing fanfare than the most recent ‘straight to video’ sequels, that we have largely seen in the 2000’s.

Director David Bruckner (V/H/S) has achieved a stylish revamp for a new generation, certainly fitting with the 2000’s tone of horror with a nice blend of CGI and practical effects. Whilst also paying homage to Barker’s original visionary idea, no doubt helped by the legendary horror writer himself returning to his franchise in a producer role. Hellraiser (2022) also provides us with a brand new version of Pinhead, this time as a female Cenobite played impressively by Jamie Clayton (The Chain), and unquestionably the finest non Doug Bradley version we have seen of one of cinema’s most notorious Demons. This time around the movie tells the story of recovering drug addict Riley (Odessa A’Zion The Inhabitant), who gets more than she bargained for after coming across the Lamont Configuration Puzzle Box, literally unleashing hell, and a battle for her soul and of those around her as the hideous Cenobites once again enter our world.

6. // Black Phone

This chilling story of child abduction with a subtlety used supernatural edge, was directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister / Doctor Strange) and is based on the short story by Joe Hill (Horns), son of Horror master Stephen King. Showing that the apple never falls far from the tree as he proves yet again that his wild imagination transfers perfectly to the screen. The Black Phone is set in North Denver in 1978 and introduces us to 13 year old Finney (Mason Thames), his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) and the wider circle of their school where bullying is rife. The brother and sister live in fear of their physically abusive father, while news of a child serial killer named The Grabber starts to spread around the community like wild fire.

Once the background is set the film hits you in the face with the scene of Finney’s kidnapping as he is lured to look into the back of the van by the killer, who is pretending to be a child’s magician (Ethan Hawke Training Day) in one of the more sinister scenes and performances of his career, with nods to the Buffalo Bill abduction scene in The Silence Of The Lambs. Finney is locked in a sound proof basement where in his cell there is a dirty mattress and an old disconnected black phone on the wall. He soon discovers that the spirits of The Grabbers previous victims are able to communicate with him through the device, including his friend Robin who wants to help him do what he couldn’t … and escape. The Black Phone is fine movie with an intriguing idea by Hill, and a worthy addition to the impressive Blumhouse Productions roster.

7. // Halloween Ends

The final piece in the puzzle of the modern Halloween trilogy directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), which acts as a legacy sequel series to John Carpenter’s classic 1978 slasher flick. Bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies) to once again play the ultimate final girl Laurie Strode, while disregarding the other nine films the franchise has spewed out over the years. Halloween (2018) saw Laurie Strode in full on Sarah Connor mode from Terminator 2 as she battles mentally against the events of that fateful night in 1978, having planned for the day that she knew would come when Michael Myers returns to Hadenfield to kill again. Halloween Kills (2021) followed up by bringing the town together to form a mob mentality, as they collectively battle to bring down the masked serial killer, while Halloween Ends brings the trilogy to a conclusion.

The movie continues with the tone of its two companion films, closer to the classic feel of the franchise than that of Rob Zombie’s generally universally despised pair of movies in 2007 and 2009. And a return to form for many bringing the franchise to a new generation, and even seeing Carpenter himself return to provide a fresh score. The movie time-jumps 4 years after the events of its predecessors, Laurie is trying to move on with her life and Michael Myers has not been seen since surviving the end of Kills. Ends takes a unique direction for the series with the introduction of a new character Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell), who takes a somewhat surprising central role to the film for anyone who may have been expecting a pure final Michael vs Laurie narrative. Maybe not a satisfying direction for the notoriously fickle fandom, but an intriguing turn for the franchise to take nonetheless. Michael Myers and Laurie do finally get it on for the umpteenth time in the final act, in what will no doubt now be Jamie Lee Curtis’s swan song in the series that made her name.

8. // All Quiet On The Western Front

A harrowing movie depicting the pain and suffering of the First World War. Seen from the eyes of German soldiers, in this most recent screen interpretation of the classic 1928 novel written by Erich Maria Remarque, a survivor soldier who witnessed the atrocities first hand. All Quiet On The Western Front opens straight into a frontline battle sequence as soldiers head out over the top from their bunker and run towards the enemy over icy grounds. The bodies pile up and after the fighting is done the dead soldiers are stripped of their uniforms which are then patched up to be passed on to the next incoming cannon fodder. Young men delusional with propaganda and who are more than willing to join the ‘excitement’ of war, to fight for glory and return to their country as heroes.

The film follows the story of 17 year old Paul (Felix Kammerer) who lies about his age in order to join his friends on what they believe will be an adventure of a lifetime. They enthusiastically join up with their training regiment, but the reality hits all too soon when they travel to the frontline and one by one Paul watches as his friends are killed and he realises he has walked into a desperate situation, which is nothing less than a living nightmare. The ominous film score throughout this movie perfecty compliments the sombre tone and foreboding nature of the film, and many of the action sequence are as bloody and horrific as they need to be, to immerse the audience into the true horrors of the war.

9. // Scream

Wes Craven created his second mainstream horror franchise and changed the face of the genre yet again with his meta-slasher classic Scream (1996). The opening scene as Drew Barrymore is stalked and tormented in her home by a killer using a telephone is one of the most memorable in the genre, and is faithfully recreated in this fresh revisit. The original introduced us to a new horror icon in Ghostface, while taking on a mystery who-dunnit approach to the narrative which featured a fine ensemble cast including final girl Sidney (Neve Campbell Wild Things), reporter Gail Weathers (Courtney CoxFriends) and deputy sheriff Dewy (David Arquette Ravenous). All combining perfectly with the right mix of suspense and gory kills, while humorously paying homage to the Horror scene throughout.

This 2022 legacy sequel / reboot is a satisfying modern take on the story, and comes over a decade after we last visited the tale in Scream 4 (2011), and is another decent entry for the series which has always maintained a consistent standard. The movie opens with a copycat opening scene as home alone Tara (Jenny OrtegaWednesday) answers her phone, and begins a conversation with a stranger which gradually gets more disturbing as they discuss horror films and that of Stab, the in house movie based on Scream which takes the meta element of the story to the next level. In the absence of Wes Craven who sadly passed away in 2015, director duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready Or Not / V/H/S) reunite the aforementioned three stars of the franchise to aid in the mystery of who is trying to kill Tara and her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera Vida), the daughters of Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich The Craft), one of the original Ghostface killers.

10. // Crimes Of The Future

David Cronenberg (The Fly / Videodrome) is one of the legendary auteurs of Sci-Fi/Horror, who released a succession of classic movies from the early 70’s through to the late 90’s, which saw him dubbed the master of Body-Horror and with good reason. His style and use of visceral practical effects personified the genre especially in the 1980’s, but as a maturer filmmaker in the 2000’s he has largely moved away, choosing to focus more on melo-drama and character based movies. But then he drops Crimes Of The Future on us, which shares the title of a little known low budget film he made way back in 1970, and with a style close to many of his classic films.

Set in a very strange future where humans have evolved beyond feeling pain, the film stars Cronenberg’s 2000’s muse Viggo Mortensen (A History Of Violence / Eastern Promises) as Saul Tensor, who suffers from a disorder in which his body develops new organs, which he allows his wife Caprice (Lea Seydoux Spectre) to surgically remove in front of live audiences. They are world renowned performance artists and the visual bizarreness of the feats they perform is weird even for Cronenberg, who taps into themes laid out in films of his including ExistenZ and Videodrome, and due to the erotic nature of what develops within their ‘art’, his highly controversial 1996 film Crash. The overall plot of Crimes Of The Future is absolutely bonkers, it is one of the strangest narratives that only Cronenberg could deliver, tapping into an influence of Philip K. Dick mixed with his unique mind bending imagination. And although its not sat particularly well with everyone that’s viewed it this year, it’s no bad thing having Cronenberg back to doing what he does best.

Words by Mark Bates


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