309Write - The Best Movies of 2022 (So Far)

Every year, the stretch between the Oscars and the onslaught of early summer blockbusters becomes a sort of dumping ground for movies that can’t cut it during Hollywood’s peak seasons. They reside in that nebulous and fallow grey area, where not much exciting is expected to happen at the multiplex. They are Tinseltown’s stepchildren—its less-beloved castoffs. Still, if you’re willing to do a little digging, there’s always some hidden gems to be found. We’ll save you the trouble of getting your hands dirty and just suggest checking out these titles that manage to rise well above the low expectations of spring.

Over the past five or six years, the boutique studio A24 has become the coolest kid on the Hollywood block, cranking out a combo platter of challenging indies and horror flicks that don’t insult your intelligence. Its latest, X, actually manages to be both simultaneously. A tip of the cap to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 meatlover’s masterpiece, The Texas Chain Saw Massacreis set in the Lone Star state in the ‘70s and you can almost feel the dust and sweat and pheromones coming off the screen. The small cast and crew of a Debbie Does Dallas-style porno rent a barn from a creepy old coot where they plan to shoot their latest skin-flick opus. But they quickly learn that the grizzled old farmer and his wife aren’t exactly gracious hosts—or film lovers. Directed by next-gen horror maestro Ti West (The House of the Devil), takes a pretty standard exploitation formula and it elevates it into a bone-chilling, anxiety-inducing freakout. X is an artful horror film that doesn’t bludgeon you with its artiness. It just serves up maximum joy-buzzer mayhem.

If you’re looking to double down on horror, this creepy Hulu offering makes a solid bottom half on a double-bill with X. Although not quite as clever as that film, Mimi Cave, making her promising feature directing debut, delivers the fright-night goods and them some, especially if your sweet tooth in the genre runs toward Eli Roth’s Hostel films. Fresh is far less misogynistic than Roth’s oeuvre, but gender studies majors and dating-app junkies will still have plenty to discuss after the end credits roll. Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones plays a young single woman tired of the artifice and theater of modern dating. That is, until she meets Sebastian Stan’s Steve—a handsome, funny surgeon who seems too good to be true. And wouldn’t you know it, he is! It would be churlish to spill too much about the film’s gruesome plot (I didn’t know anything about it going in, and I’m glad), so I’ll jut say this: Steve takes surgery very seriously (especially in his chic home’s designer dungeon basement) and Edgar-Jones isn’t the first woman to fall for his sadistic ruse. Warning: Not for vegans.

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