5 Terrifying Psychological Horror Films To Watch This Year

Mitchell Brown shares the psychological horror films he’s most eager to see this year. It’s raining men, doppelgangers, and also an egg.


Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling (2022) directed by Olivia Wilde.

So far this year, we’ve been exposed to some quality horror films that have ranged in subgenre and execution. Such examples include X (2022), which added a new zest to the familiar trends of slasher films and reiterated that you can feel empathy for a slasher villain. I say ‘reiterate’ because Psycho (1960) proved that over sixty years ago. We also got the delightful delicacy that is Fresh (2022), which starts as a charming romantic comedy until suddenly it isn't anymore (no spoilers here).


I’d like to talk about the type of horror that gets under your skin and lives rent-free in your mind before instantly resurfacing when your power goes out in the middle of the night, Psychological Horror. There’s a reason why you still sleep with a night lite on. You can call it a T.V all you want, but I know the truth. Your brain needs terror fuel to refill the imagination tank that is your subconscious mind. So, let’s do it together with a few of the psychological horror films I’m most eager to watch this year.



DON’T WORRY DARLING

One of the more mysterious films coming out this year, DON’T WORRY DARLING reportedly takes place in the 1950s. It follows a woman (Florence Pugh) who lives in a picturesque experimental community. This starts to crumble when she realizes that her husband (Harry Styles) may be working for a company with nefarious intent. Chris Pine also stars as a cult-like leader of the community. The film is directed by Olivia Wilde in her second directorial feature following Booksmart (2019).


Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling (2022) directed by Olivia Wilde.

Does that all sound vague? It’s hard to know more because the cast and crew involved with the film have been notoriously tight-lipped about any details regarding the story and characters. The film’s official trailer was only just released following a 12-second teaser Wilde posted on Instagram last September. The lack of advertisements and plot details has worked in the filmmakers’ favor as people are clamoring for any information they can get their hands on. The scarcity of ads led to an abundance of free publicity.


The film will be released on September 23, 2022.



THE TWIN

A Shudder Original, THE TWIN follows Rachel (Teresa Palmer) after she and her husband Anthony (Steven Cree) lose one of their twin sons in a horrible accident. After relocating to Scandinavia, they discover that their surviving son, Elliot (Tristan Ruggeri)—in dual roles as both twins—believes he’s being visited by his brother. Rachel slowly realizes that something malevolent might be trying to get her son.


Teresa Palmer and Tristan Ruggeri in The Twin (2022) directed by Taneli Mustonen.

The official trailer has a lot to unpack with some bizarre imagery. The main visual that caught my eye was the assemblage of the townspeople standing in the woods, and a ritual that appeared to be taking place. While the film is marketed as a haunting/possession movie, I’m sensing some Wickerman (1973) parallels. Due to the fact that the family relocates to a place that’s entirely foreign to them, they may be the pawn of a cult that runs the community they reside in. It’s just a thought, but the trailer piqued my interest. This film marks the English language debut of director, Taneli Mustonen, who co-wrote the film with frequent collaborator Aleksi Hyvärinen. This is not the first horror film for Palmer, who previously starred in Light’s Out (2016), Berlin Syndrome (2017), and The Grudge 2 (2006).


The film will be released on May 6, 2022.



HATCHING

First-time director Hanna Bergholm’s HATCHING follows a young gymnast, Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), who finds an egg in the woods and takes care of it in secret despite her overly demanding Mommy influencer mother. The egg, however, begins to grow into something that’s not the average bird, or creature for that matter. The creature’s design has been kept relatively under wraps save for a few brief glimpses in the trailer. Still, it has been described as evolving into a doppelganger of Tinja. What it does once it’s fully grown remains to be seen.


Siiri Solalinna as “Tinja” in Hanna Bergholm’s “HATCHING”.

The hatchling that it develops from is the work of a horde of puppeteers, and Gustav Hoegen. His extensive animatronic work includes several Star Wars films and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005). In an interview with Bloody Disgusting about the creature’s development, Hoegen describes what got him interested in the project. “When she first reached out, I have to say it was one of the most complete briefs accompanying her email. [Bergholm] gave a quick description of what she wanted to do; she had all the artwork prepared. She knew what she wanted from the crew in every scene. That alone and the whole concept, story, and the look of the creature; I didn’t hesitate.” Considering Hoegen’s prior film work, and Bergholm’s reported specificity of the creature, it should make for a memorable and terrifying monster. Early reviews have been mostly glowing. The official trailer from IFC Mightnight should entice you. With IFC Films recently joining AMC Networks' catalog of brands, one might expect to see the horror film streaming on Shudder in the future.


The film was released theatrically on April 29, 2022.


THE BLACK PHONE

Scott Derrickson is back to his horror roots with THE BLACK PHONE from Universal Pictures. The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2021 and has been twice delayed for theatrical release. The film is an adaptation of a short story by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King and writer of Horns (2013). It follows a young boy abducted by what appears to be the most eccentric child-murderer since Freddy Krueger played by Ethan Hawke. The boy receives help from the ghosts of the man’s previous victims on how to escape, who talks to him through a black phone attached to the wall of the dimly lit room he’s being held in. Hence the title of the film.



If Sinister (2013) is any indicator of the result of a collaboration between Derrickson and Hawke, you can expect this film to be good. At the very least, it should make for an uncomfortably tense experience. The recent release of the second official trailer from Universal Pictures solidifies that Derrickson loves showing that creepy kids are even better as ghosts, no matter their intentions. Hawke’s character, “the man with the black balloons” is terrifying and appears completely unhinged with his affinity for demon masks. Though, it’s likely to be less uncomfortable than the last half hour of Before Midnight (2013).


The film will be released on June 24, 2022


MEN

Alex Garland's newest film MEN is the latest in A24's outlandish and surreal film catalog. The film follows Harper (Jessie Buckley), on vacation in the English countryside following the death of her husband (Paapa Essiedu). When Harper settles in, she starts to believe she’s being stalked by a mysterious man in town. The trailer suggests it’s Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful (2014), but it’s hard to tell which version of him, considering he plays the roles of at least 10 different characters. This is where surrealism comes into play.



In an interview with Empire, Kinnear describes his interpretation of the various characters, “Some are actively threatening, some of them seem fairly benign, but all of them personify different aspects of the male tendency to belittle or spite or slight.” MEN marks Garland’s third feature film following Ex Machina (2015) and Annihilation (2018).


The film will be released on May 20, 2022, in the United States following its Cannes Film Festival debut in a Special Screening from A24.


 







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