Directed and co-written by Nick Simon, found footage meets zoom-meeting horror to create his new film Untitled Horror Movie (2021), a movie primarily shot with cell phone cameras and set on computer screen. Due to be released June 15th to streaming services with a June 12th live stream scheduled with the cast, I’d say that this movie is definitely worth a watch — at first seeming like a joke film, with actors playing vapid actors and given the same lines over and over, but Untitled Horror Movie quickly grew on me with its entertaining performances and a plot that, though obvious where it is going to end, takes comedic detours along the way.
Staring Claire Holt (The Originals!), Emmy Raver-Lampman (The Umbrella Academy), Luke Baines (Shadowhunters), Darren Barnet (Never Have I Ever), Katherine McNamara (Shadowhunters), and Timothy Granaderos (13 Reasons Why), Untitled Horror Movie follows six actors on a TV show rumored to have an upcoming cancellation. When one of its stars has the bright idea to write an original horror movie starring his fellow castmates, the group begrudgingly begins filming themselves without a crew and receives a surprising amount of interest from potential studios. Before their dreams can be realized, however, the group realizes that the script includes a chant stolen from a Reddit page, one that results in them unwittingly releasing an evil spirit that punishes sinners.
Director Nick Simon created a cinematic paradox by creating a meta-movie within a meta-movie, with Untitled Horror Movie centering around actors creating a film together. Initially, it seemed like Untitled Horror Movie would be composed of mostly filler, with the cast, for some inexplicable reason, playing the same character in the movie they’re making, but luckily, by the sheer combined charisma of each actor, this cinematic paradox doesn’t collapse under the weight of a clunky, meta-squared premise. It does, however, feel repetitive at times, especially since these shared monologues are all delivered through webcam with not a lot of room to stretch amongst different sceneries.
Untitled Horror Movie seems to be a movie limited to the restraints of the Covid-19 pandemic, joining the chorus of films structured as webcam meetings. Though the actors are never really in the same room together, they bring a high energy level to their individual performances, playing jaded actors thrown into a horrifying situation of their own making. Untitled Horror Movie balances the slower pace of webcam footage by periodically cutting to scenes that are more akin to a found footage film, and by the end of the film, the repetitiveness of the movie within the main movie was thankfully overshadowed by the main movie, that picked up its pace towards the middle as the evil presence was realized and the intensity and danger increased.
Untitled Horror Movie, not only boasted a cast of modern supernatural TV stars, but furthermore, had comedically timed celebrity cameos that were used as bookends of the film, with a great intro scene from Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar movies) and a comedic punch to the face from Aisha Tyler (Archer). This is a rare case of good performances overcoming an otherwise seemingly half-thought-out and very cliche script. I imagine fans of any of the numerous shows these stars hail from or those who enjoyed films like Truth or Dare (2017) or Unfriended (2014) would get a kick out of Untitled Horror Movie. It is genuinely scary at times, with low-budget horror effects and perfectly-pitched scream queens doing much of the leg work, and it is also funny but manages not to be slapstick, making Untitled Horror Movie a well-balanced achievement of horror-comedy.
6.75 out of 10