The 80 Best Feature Films of 2022 (So Far)

By Andrew Buckner

*All feature films included herein are based on the criteria of an official 2022 release date in the U.S.*

80. Father Stu

Director: Rosalind Ross

79. Incantation

Director: Ke Mengrong

78. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Director: Tom Gormican

77. Brian and Charles

Director: Jim Archer

76. The Batman

Director: Matt Reeves

75. Watcher

Director: Chloe Okuno

74. Dashcam

Director: Rob Savage

73. Monstrous

Director: Chris Sivertson

72. Cyst

Director: Tyler Russell

71. Death Count

Director: Michael Su

70. Dead by Midnight (Y2Kill)

Directors: Davi Crimmins, Eric Davis, Hannah Fierman, Greg Garrison, Melissa Haas, Torey Haas, Jay Holloway, Jenna Kanell, Anissa Matlock, Tony Reames

69. Munich – The Edge of War

Director: Christian Schwochow

68. My Best Friend Anne Frank

Director: Ben Sombogaart

67. Fresh

Director: Mimi Cave

66. White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch

Director: Alison Klayman

65. Infinite Storm

Director: Malgorzata Szumowska

64. Hatching

Director: Hanna Bergholm

63. Men

Director: Alex Garland

62. Painted in Blood

Director: Aaron Mirtes

61. On the 3rd Day

Director: Daniel de la Vega

60. A Banquet

Director: Ruth Paxton

59. The Seed

Director: Sam Walker

58. The Wasteland

Director: David Casademunt

57. The Cursed

Director: Sean Ellis

56. Livid

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury

55. No Exit

Director: Damien Power

54. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Schienert

53. They Live in the Grey

Directors: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang

52. Deep Water

Director: Adrian Lyne

51. The Sadness

Director: Rob Jabbaz

50. You Are Not My Mother

Director: Kate Dolan

49. Godforsaken

Directors: Ali Akbar, Akbar Kamal

48. Ultrasound

Director: Rob Schroeder

47. Operation Mincemeat

Director: John Madden

46. The Last Thing Mary Saw

Director: Edoardo Vitaletti

45. Jackass Forever

Director: Jeff Tremaine

44. Straight to VHS

Director: Emilio Silva Torres

43. Studio 666

Director: BJ McDonnell

42. Scream

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet

41. Hellbender

Directors: John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser

40. Flux Gourmet

Director: Peter Strickland

39. The Hurt We Share

Director: Vega Montanez

38. Nezura 1964

Director: Hiroto Yokokawa

37. Belle

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

36. RRR (Rise Roar Revolt)

Director: S.S. Rajamouli

35. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

Director: Jane Shoenburn

34. You Won’t Be Alone

Director: Goran Stolevski

33. VHS Love: Cult Cinema Obsession

Director: Tony Newton

32. The Found Footage Phenomenon

Directors: Sarah Appleton, Phillip Escott

31. #Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm

Director: Lloyd Kaufman

30. Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe

Director: Mike Judge

29. The Black Phone

Director: Scott Derrickson

28. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Director: Richard Linklater

27. Elvis

Director: Baz Luhrman

26. Strawberry Mansion

Directors: Kentucker Audley, Albert Birney

25. X

Director: Ti West

24. Cow

Director: Andrea Arnold

23. The Innocents

Director: Eskil Vogt

22. Crimes of the Future

Director: David Cronenberg

21. Lux Aeterna

Director: Gaspar Noe

20. Petite Maman

Director: Celine Sciamma

19. Uncle Sleazo’s Toxic & Terrifying TV Hour

Director: Lucky Cerruti

18. Nitram

Director: Justin Kurzel

17. The Outfit

Director: Graham Moore

16. Nocturna: Side A- The Great Old Man’s Night

Director: Gonzalo Calzada

15. Luci and Desi

Director: Amy Poehler

14. The Northman

Director: Robert Eggers

13. Downfall: The Case Against Boeing

Director: Rory Kennedy

12. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

Director: Pawo Choyning Dorji

11. A Hero

Director: Asghar Farhadi

10. The Worst Person in the World

Director: Joachim Trier

9. Disorienting Dick

Director: Richard Griffin

8. The House

Directors: Paloma Baeza, Emma De Swaef, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Marc James Roels

7. Cyrano

Director: Joe Wright

6. Nocturna: Side B- Where the Elephants Go To Die

Director: Gonzalo Calzada

5. Happening

Director: Audrey Diwana

4. Mad God

Director: Phil Tippett

3. Neptune Frost

Directors: Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman

2. Jurassic World: Dominion

Director: Colin Trevorrow

1. Vortex

Director: Gaspar Noe

DEATH COUNT (2022) – Movie Review

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: **** out of *****.

Death Count (2022), from director Michael Su and screenwriter Michael Merino (with revisions by Rolfe Kanefsky), is a lean, efficient, captivating, and grisly take on Saw (2004) style horror pictures. After a visually bravura and claustrophobic commencing acknowledgements segment, Su’s offering even begins in a related manner to James Wan’s previously stated masterpiece. Continually, there is an explicit mention of Saw, as well as the narratively similar Hostel (2005) from director Eli Roth, in one sly late first act sequence. It involves a montage of news reports. Aside from being an opportunity to address the oft-utilized theme of the operation, the sadistic underbelly of The Internet, this short episode is also a refreshing nod to the photoplays from which it evokes motivation. The presence of Costas Mandylor, who deftly enacted Detective Lieutenant Mark Hoffman in Saw III (2006) through Saw: The Final Chapter (2010) and just as capably depicts the wonderfully ominous Warden in Su’s latest effort, greatly enhances this correlation.

Michael Madsen, who magnificently portrays Detective Casey, delightfully offers his gruff, commanding charm to the material. His bits of dark humor also pepper the proceedings. Yet, none of these items are employed so frequently that they take away from the superbly fashioned and anxiety-fueled tone of the enterprise. The beautifully orchestrated mood of the article skillfully permeates the appropriately brisk 81-minute attempt from the initial frame to the last.

The story concerns a group of eight strangers who find themselves in a foreign environment. They are isolated in holding cells and cannot recall how they got to be in such a situation. Their conditions become even more dire when the frightful Warden announces that they are being forced to play a deadly game. It is one which involves getting the most “likes” on social media. This is achieved by partaking in violent escapades, all of which have a ten-second time limit per unwilling contestant, that revolve around self-harm.

It’s exactly the type of plot one would expect from a tale of this ilk. The characters are also familiar archetypes. The exposition and general development they are handed is satisfactorily dispersed yet garden variety. Even the inevitable climactic reveal of why these individuals were gathered and how they are connected follows suit. The dialogue the central figures are handed is sharper and more successful. Nonetheless, it still falls under the banner of what spectators foresee from such an outing.

Notwithstanding, the film is relentless in terms of its taut pacing and same said tension. The project expertly erects its setup in the initial ten minutes of the venture. From herein, it imaginatively crafts increasingly macabre ordeals for our leads to endure. The account is just as creative in its plentiful and exceptionally well done gory bits. A courtesy of the confident guidance of the vehicle from Su, the solid script, and the all-around high-caliber performances in the construction, the suspense rarely wavers. It is smoothly concocted from the engaging and enigmatic opening to the grimly gratifying conclusion. The latter cleverly hints at a potential sequel.

What is just as impressive is the fascinating way in which the affair combines numerical, literary, and sonic clues which may aid in the contributors’ survival in the second half of the fiction. The quickness and unpredictability with which most of the cast gets slaughtered in the mesmerizing first act is just as noteworthy. Such measures create a welcome balance to the more routine beats of the composition. It also makes the endeavor far more palpable in the nerve-shredding anticipation it brilliantly builds.

From a technical perspective, the work is equally stalwart. The cinematography from Su and music from Scott Glasgow is atmospheric and immersive. I especially enjoyed the incorporation of the fitting track from Psycho Synner, the Jeremy Spencer and Shawn McGee penned “The Torture Never Stops” (2021), during the enthralling end credits. Moreover, the editing from Jeremy Wanek, costume design by Joe Lujan, sound, makeup, stunts, and effects are all outstanding.

Also identified as Numbers, Death Count is a scrappy, in-your-face midnight movie. It isn’t as groundbreaking as the features from which it derives inspiration. Regardless, it will assuredly please those of us who are always frantically searching for a stellar dose of grueling cinematic terror. A Mahal Empire, Mezek Films, and Blaen-Y-Maes Bootleg Films production, Su’s exercise is twisted fun. It’s also one of the best genre undertakings of the year.

Death Count will be released in North America on July 19th, 2022.