Reviewed by Shannon Hilson, MoreHorror.com,
As bad as the pandemic of 2020 may have been for people’s nerves, it spawned some seriously inspired storytelling from the more creative souls out there. It’s been fascinating to see how filmmakers, in particular, kept working their special brand of magic even under strict quarantine conditions.
Untitled Horror Movie is the latest offering from writer-director Nick Simon and co-writer Luke Baines (who also stars in the film). It was written, cast, designed, and shot entirely during last year’s pandemic. Never once do any of the characters touch each other or otherwise have any direct physical contact, but Simon, Baines, and an incredibly talented cast make it easy to forget that. What could have been a crippling set of limitations becomes the film’s most potent asset instead.
At the center of the story are a group of six actors – Declan (Baines), Max (Darren Barnet), Kip (Timothy Granaderos), Kelly (Claire Holt), Chrissy (Katherine McNamara), and Alex (Emmy Raver-Lampman). They are costars on a television series called Belle who also stay in touch with one another outside of work via Zoom. At the film’s opening, they are waiting to learn whether the new network head will renew their show for another season or if it will instead be canceled due to low viewership.
While they wait anxiously to learn the ultimate fate of Belle, Kip gets the idea to write and film a found footage horror movie. He enlists his five castmates to star in it, with each filming their scenes on their smartphones. The movie plotline involves a supernatural entity that stalks the characters after being summoned via a pendulum, so Chrissy volunteers a pendulum of her own (which she says she uses to connect to her higher self). At the same time, Declan contributes an ominous-sounding incantation he finds on Reddit.
Of course, it isn’t long before the whole project gets a little eerie. Some of the special effects going on in each cast member’s footage seem suspiciously impressive, including the creepy shadows on Chrissy’s wall and a forceful wind that blows through Kelly’s room in one of her shots. Each person also claims not to have deliberately staged the effects, causing their castmates to wonder about their possible motives. Eventually, though, it becomes clear that there’s a lot more going on here than a horror movie shoot. The group may have accidentally attracted the attention of an actual demon with a taste for violence.
Untitled Horror Movie is more than just an excellent horror flick with scares and tension that genuinely work. It’s also a uniquely funny, well-crafted satire that cleverly pokes fun at many aspects of the film industry. These include the unique relationships costars often share – relationships that are catty and competitive while remaining warm and close – and the unique process involved in filming horror movies. Every cast member in this film turns in a solid individual performance. They also work incredibly well together and really sell their relationships to one another, making it hard to believe they never once interacted in the usual sense during filming.
It’s also worth noting that each cast member was responsible for setting up their own lighting, doing their own makeup, and everything else involved in making sure each shot was just right. They did a fantastic job of this and deserve major props.
Overall, Untitled Horror Movie is the type of film that’s easy to get into, especially if you’re into satire horror along the lines of Scream. It’s filled with personalities that are like caricatures of themselves, each both annoying and loveable in their way. The writing is snappy and dynamic. The comedy lands, and so do the scares. It’s an easy film to watch and a joy to follow, never asking too much of the audience but delivering quite a lot in return. It’s a real testament to what can be done even while observing strict quarantine protocol, and it’s not to be missed. Catch it now on streaming platforms everywhere!
Untitled Horror Movie Trailer: