Untitled Horror Movie, directed by Nick Simon and written by Luke Baines and Nick Simon, is a meta horror-comedy about a group of actors on a soon-to-be-canceled show. The cast is recognizable, especially if you watch shows. There’s Timothy Granaderos (13 Reasons Why), Clair Holt (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Emmy Raver-Lampman (The Umbrella Academy), Katherine McNamara (Arrow, Shadowhunters), Darren Barnet (Never Have I Ever), and Luke Baines (Shadowhunters).
Untitled Horror Movie handles the comedy aspect exceptionally well. The horror is more camp, but it isn’t about what’s terrifying, but rather how this group of actors respond to it that forms the entertainment. The film is remarkable because the cast has dynamic chemistry. The dialogue is droll and mirthful. It’s as though we are silently on the call, watching the messiness unfold. We have a hilarious peek into the lives of actors’ acting that feels realistic. Like a glimpse behind the Hollywood curtain.
The Opening Says “You Were Right To Watch This”
When the film starts, we see Chrissy (Katherine McNamara) is terrified as she hides in a closet. But we sense something is off. By the time we see Alex (Emmy Raver-Lampman), it’s clear they are acting out a scene for an unnamed movie in the works. Their costar Kip (Timothy Granaderos) is writing the script for it. Untitled Horror Movie is a comedy, and the humor is grounded in watching each actor attempt to create a terrifying scene. Of course, that’s before the horror begins.
With their show canceled and still stuck under contract, the rest of the cast decides to join in. They agree to shoot individual horror scenes in their homes. Each actor has their method to show the evil possession, from high-pitched to deep-throated demon voices, and all shots are hilarious.
Spooky Horror But Still Comedic
Horror does come when they realize that just shooting random scary scenes isn’t going to cut it. So after seeing Chrissy ask her pendulum questions, Kelly (Claire Holt) warns about playing with spirits, and the rest of the actors decide it’s a perfect idea. So they ask Kip to write a story where they summon a spirit to combat a spirit that’s after them. That’s when things start to go awry and unexplainable behavior, shadows and fear ensue. But, this is also Hollywood. So amidst the danger, some care more about adding to the script. Should they survive. None of us would want to be fighting off a spirit with this bunch.
Cast, Dialogue and Direction Work Exceptionally Well
Granted, most of the personalities in Untitled Horror Movie are not fleshed out characters. We have the ditzy girl, the jerk, the mean conceited girl, and so on. But in a horror movie, that is not always a problem, provided the writer/director understands what the film is and how to achieve it. The director and writers for Untitled Horror Movie get their path and adeptly navigate it.
The direction, combined with the cast and dialogue, adds to how real this comedy horror film feels. Given the arguing and competitiveness we hear about in our favorite shows, none of this feels like a stretch. The inside jokes regarding acting coaches, the actor who thinks they’re above the rest of the cast are phenomenal. It gives a vérité quality that pulls in the audience for the comedy. The separation between the film within the film blurs, but we can tell when one leaves and another traverses in. It all adds to the hilarity.
Visuals Felt Unnecessary For The Ending
The ending falters slightly because the effects look mediocre. Maybe that’s because Untitled Horror Movie, similar to the characters making the horror movie, doesn’t have the budget to do more. Alternatively, It could be an intentional additional meta moment of the film within the movie. I’m going with the latter. Without the effects would’ve been preferable, but it is still a funny ending because, of course, it feels like actors would do this. The world of acting is so prominent in their lives. As such, do they know how to exist when the cameras aren’t on?
Untitled Horror Movie is an example of comedic horror done right. We are interested in the people, engrossed in the story, and captivated by the world of Hollywood actors trying to make a low budget horror movie that goes wrong. It made me laugh because of the banter between the characters. It’s fun, self-aware, rewatchable, and entertains throughout.