This article contains spoilers.
Trendy horror films such as Horror 2 and Barbarian prove that 2022 was a great year for horror fans, but most importantly, it offered a range of both original and familiar characters, from good ones to terrifying villains that have the potential to change the current horror scenario.
As usual, horror protagonists often go through extensive character development in the face of brutal atrocities and terrifying events. 2022 has plenty of different types of protagonists to offer, from untrustworthy anti-heroes to innocent children, truly innovating the genre.
10/10 Finney (The Black Phone)
The black phone is one of the most popular horror releases of the year, starring Ethan Hawke as the terrifying “Grabber”, a strange serial killer who sees his method begin to crumble after abducting Finney, who can communicate with the ghosts of Grabber’s past victims.
The black phone is one of those horror films where a supporting character steals the show every time they’re on screen, with Gwen Blake, Finney’s sister, standing out as the film’s moral MVP. Finney isn’t too far behind though, especially when you consider how much he changes throughout the film, from a quiet, shy boy to a young man who can stand up and fight for his life.
9/10 pearl (pearl)
If GEM wasn’t that special, she wouldn’t have a movie just for her. Undoubtedly one of the most terrifying villains of 2022 with his role in Xshe returns as the main character in the sequel GEMwhere viewers can finally witness the violent origin story of how Pearl went from an innocent country girl to a merciless serial killer.
Unlike X, viewers can’t help but root for Pearl regardless of her obsessive drive for success and impulsive motives to kill. Most importantly, Mia Goth gives her body and soul to this character, which makes Pearl so terrifyingly unique.
8/10 Dr. Rose Cotter (smiling)
Dr. Rose Cotter is one of the easiest horror characters to like in a long time. Although haunted by traumatic events from her past, she is a competent doctor and a caring wife but becomes the recipient of an evil curse with devastating consequences. Rose wastes no time in denying the creature that torments her, and quickly uses her sharp wit to understand the curse and find a way to counter it.
After countless victims of Smiling curse, Dr. Rose came closest to defeating it for good, after a ceaseless battle against his own mind. Unfortunately, she meets an inevitable fate at the hands of the film’s terrifying entity.
2022 is a great year for Anya Taylor-Joy, everything from her mysterious role in The Norwegian to the witty Margot in The menu, a horror comedy that escalates into barbaric mayhem. In the film, a small group of wealthy guests travel to a remote island to enjoy a sumptuous menu at an exclusive restaurant, where a famous chef has prepared some shocking surprises for each guest.
Margot is such an easy character to like because, alongside the film’s main antagonist, played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes, she seems to be the only person among the guests with the slightest trace of personality. Among the stupidity of the rich, Margot is the first to suspect that something is wrong, and the only one who can turn the tables on the chef.
6/10 Maxine (X)
In the beginning of X, Maxine says “I won’t accept a life I don’t deserve”, and she lives up to those words. An aspiring actress surrounded by amateurs, she stands out as the most talented member of the group.
After all her friends are murdered by the hosts on their set, Maxine is the only one who manages to get the upper hand on the aging couple who threatened them. She exploits not only her wit but also her body, a gift and a curse that ignited Pearl in her unattainable desire to be young again. The confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist is priceless, especially when you consider how they mirror each other.
5/10 Laurie Strode (Halloween Ends)
Laurie Strode is one of the most recurring horror protagonists of all time. Over various decades and over 10 movies, she escaped from Michael Myers, eventually killing him in the process, or dying trying, then returning, and so on. IN Halloween endsLaurie Strode returned for one last face-off against her nemesis, played by the iconic Jamie Lee Curtis who brought soul to the character.
After a series of gruesome murders committed by Myers, one of whose victims is her daughter, Laurie finally gets the better of the serial killer, stabs him multiple times and throws his body into a metal shredder. Last but not least, it’s also great to see Laurie finally carry out the peaceful life she deserved, definitely one of this year’s horror MVPs.
4/10 OJ & Emerald (No)
No has two incredible protagonists and the truth is that one cannot live without the other. Emerald and OJ are two close siblings but completely different from each other: Emerald is a cocky aspiring artist with enough energy to light up an entire city. On the other hand, OJ is a reserved, cautious rancher and the first to notice something sinister going on around his family’s cove.
The two have a unique chemistry and contrasting qualities that together are crucial when fighting Nos terrifying villain, a bloodthirsty alien creature. Emerald is the bold one, always ready to put herself in danger in direct confrontation, while OJ is the vigilant warrior who observes and analyzes the creature’s behavior to understand its weaknesses. Together, the two defeat a seemingly invincible, unknown force.
3/10 Noah (Fresh)
Noah is the soul of Fresh, an unexpected thriller guaranteed to make viewers’ stomachs drop. She is painfully relatable; a vulnerable, yet smart young lady in search of a meaningful relationship in an era flooded with pointless dating apps and awkward meet-cutes.
It’s unfair to blame her for falling for the wrong guy because pretty much anyone would have fallen for Steve’s bewitching ways, unaware that he’s actually a sadistic cannibal. Noa looks like an innocent, fragile woman on the surface, and she uses that to her advantage to turn the tables on Steve and free other victims from his evil captivity.
2/10 Tess (barbarian)
All Tess wanted was a peaceful stay in Detroit while she looked for a job, but instead she found herself trapped in an underground maze of dark corridors inhabited by a giant woman who took her as her baby.
From beginning to end, Barbarian makes clear to viewers that Tess is not safe in that house, first hinting that Bill Skarsgård poses a threat but then revealing a much more deadly threat. Tess does her best to help those around her and ends up being used and discarded as nothing, though her good heart causes her to indirectly develop a bond with the film’s “monster”, and the mutual understanding and respect between them ends up saving Tess life.
1/10 Naru (prey)
Naru is arguably the horror MVP of the year, starting with Change as an inexperienced hunter and evolves into a deadly woman who can think quickly and take advantage of whatever weapons are at her disposal to fight multiple enemies that threaten her and her tribe.
In the end, Naru manages to outwit the Predator, an evolved alien creature with a deadly arsenal, turning the tables on it by adapting to her predator’s abilities and behavior and proving that she is no longer harmless prey. In the process, she faces the threat of foreign invaders and learns important lessons about family and unison, eventually saving most of her tribe from the dangers that surrounded them from all sides.
Next: 9 Reasons Prey Is Better Than The Original Predator