On June 15, fans will be able to watch Untitled Horror Movie, a new horror comedy film co-written by Shadowhunters alum Luke Baines and Nick Simon (who also directed), about a group of six actors who band together to make a horror movie when they find out that their show might be on the verge of cancellation. While trying to develop a compelling plot, they inadvertently summon a real spirit with a penchant for violence.
We had the chance to chat with Claire Holt, one of the film’s stars. You’ll probably recognize her from shows like The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and Aquarius. Holt also starred in the shark attack film 47 Meters Down, so she’s no stranger to the horror genre.
One of the most intriguing parts of this new movie is that the actors all had to film themselves since they made it while we were all under lockdown last year. That means each star had to do their own makeup, lighting, sound, and camerawork. We talked to Holt about how she managed to do the technical aspects, her own take on the paranormal, her future projects, and much more!
Untitled Horror Movie star Claire Holt spills on ghosts, the making of the film, future projects and more.
1428 Elm: I thought it was kind of funny that you’ve done vampires, then you did 47 Meters Down, so sharks, and now you’re doing something paranormal.
Claire Holt: It’s my niche, I guess. It’s the only way I can get a job, to play a supernatural character or something paranormal. I played a cop once, actually, so maybe it’s not all I can do. No, but it’s fun. I love it!
1428 Elm: Are you a horror fan yourself?
Claire Holt: So, I’m the type of person who watches like this [mimes watching through her fingers], like really love it. I love supernatural horror, ghosts, spirits, that stuff. The gory slasher stuff, I’m not as good with, but I do love it.
1428 Elm: You like The Conjuring over Saw?
Claire Holt: The Conjuring, yeah! Love The Conjuring and that type of stuff.
1428 Elm: Throughout Untitled Horror Movie, many characters talk about horror tropes or discuss stuff in the script that wouldn’t work. Is there anything in horror movies you hate when the characters do?
Claire Holt: Yeah, because I try to think about what I would do if I heard someone outside. But then they always cut the phone lines, don’t they? Can’t call the police.
1428 Elm: I feel like I would never run upstairs.
Claire Holt: No! Don’t run upstairs, very stupid, unless you have access to jump off a balcony or something. And always have a weapon. Don’t walk around without a weapon, and don’t just go opening doors willy-nilly.
1428 Elm: Your character in the movie, Kelly, she’s the first one that’s like, “okay there’s something supernatural going on here.” Is that you in real life? Do you believe in ghosts and things like that?
Claire Holt: Yeah, I do. I totally do. It’s funny because my son, sometimes I’m watching the monitor and he’s like looking at the ceiling, and he’s talking to things, and I’m like, “is there a fricking ghost in my son’s bedroom?” and my husband’s like, “you’re crazy, he’s talking to himself, he’s a kid.”
But I swear there’s something, every time he’s lying there and looking. So I come in and say, “Who were you talking to on the monitor?” and he’s like, “oh, a ghost.”
1428 Elm: That’s comforting.
Claire Holt: I’m probably dramatic, and he’s just repeating what I want him to say, but they’re there goddammit.
1428 Elm: No, right, I don’t have kids, but when I see my cats looking at something I can’t see, I have to double-check.
Claire Holt: Right, it’s for sure a spirit, no question.
1428 Elm: Can you tell me a little about how you got involved with Untitled Horror Movie? Were you friends with everyone beforehand?
Claire Holt: Not everyone. I met Kat [McNamara] before, and Luke [Baines] has been one of my closest friends for almost ten years, I want to say. I’ve always thought he was a phenomenal writer, and I said that to him. I said, “You’re missing so many opportunities because you’re not showing people your work! You’re so funny, so clever, so talented.”
I was always a huge fan of his writing, I guess it was May last year, and we were all in lockdown, not doing a lot. I was six months pregnant, so all I was doing was sitting on the couch or chasing my toddler. And he said, “Listen, I’ve got this script, I’ve written it you can tell me if you hate it. No pressure. I don’t want you to feel like you have to do it, but I’d love you to play Kelly if you’re open.”
And because I’ve always been a fan of his work, I knew it would be good, I just didn’t know if I would have the capacity to do it. I read it and immediately said, “I have to be involved. It’s so cool, it’s so original, like nothing I’ve ever read before.”
Obviously, it would be a huge challenge because we had to shoot this ourselves, and I’m really crap with technology and mess everything up. I can’t believe I even got into this Zoom today, to be honest.
I was so down to try it and see what we could do, and I’m thrilled with the outcome, and I’m so excited the world is going to get to it see it. Not just because I’m really proud of our work but because I’m excited the world is going to see what Luke and Nick [Simon] have been able to create together.
1428 Elm: It’s such a fun movie to watch, but I always like movies with this format, similar to Unfriended, like on Zoom or webcams. Because we use them all the time! Especially right now, so it’s really unsettling.
Claire Holt: Exactly! We didn’t really want to talk about the pandemic because people were feeling it, and they were in it and didn’t need to be reminded of it. We thought, okay, how do we film something and make it exciting and interesting within the constraints we’re living in right now but not mention the fact we’re going through this terrible, awful thing? Let’s try to make people laugh.
1428 Elm: What was the hardest part of doing this since you were filming it yourself, and what was something you thought was going to be hard but actually turned out to be pretty easy?
Claire Holt: To be fair, the hardest part when we were filming was the amount of dialogue we had to learn in a day. We shot this movie really quickly. We shot it in eight days, I want to say. Usually, you have a maximum of 10-12 pages a day, like that’s a really big day on any project I’ve done in the past. And we were doing 20-25 pages a day.
That’s a lot of dialogue to get and nail. For me, that was the most challenging part, especially because when I’m pregnant, I can’t think straight, and my brain doesn’t function properly [Laughs].
And what I thought was going to be so challenging was the technical aspect and the lighting and sound. But our DP Kevin [Duggin] did the most phenomenal job. He and Luke did these tutorial videos to show us how to set the cameras up and talk us through everything and all the settings on the iPhone.
It actually ended up, by the last day we were shooting, we were all pretty proficient at doing it, and knowing if the exposure was a little off or if the sound needed to be up, we got into our groove. I feel like now, going forward, I have so much more respect for everything that goes into filmmaking.
Usually, as an actor, you just show up and learn your lines and you stand on a mark. You don’t really understand what’s going on around you. Now I realize it’s a mammoth effort to get everything made, and it was a cool way to experience it firsthand.
1428 Elm: Now that we’re slowly coming out of the pandemic, do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on?
Claire Holt: I’ve actually been working a lot in a different space from acting. I’m designing a swimwear line that I’m really excited about that’s launching soon. And I invested in a skincare company that just launched called fig1co.
It’s crazy there’s so much going on right now outside of the film business, and I’ve never had the opportunity to explore those areas of my life or my interests. It gave me a little taste of what it was like to be behind the scenes and help develop or build something.
I’m hoping to do more of that in the future, I’m producing a few projects, and that’s kind of where I’m hoping to head. But I also just had my second baby, but that takes you out for a minute, popping out kids. We’ll see if they allow me to go back to work. I’d really love to at some point.
1428 Elm: Do you know if there is a longer blooper reel somewhere? I loved what we got at the end of the credits. It was so funny but so short!
Claire Holt: Maybe, I think. I think there’s a longer one. I’m going to pitch that to them. To anyone listening, more bloopers!
1428 Elm: I’m sure fans would love it, too.
Claire Holt: Yeah, especially because it was such a cool and weird way we made this movie. It’s fun to see it. There is a behind-the-scenes documentary that has a lot of that in it, too. [The behind-the-scenes documentary is available to ticket holders if you head to the official site for the June 12 livestream event!]
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tickets are on sale now for fans who want to attend the special Untitled Horror Movie livestream event on June 12. Otherwise, Untitled Horror Movie will be available to purchase on VOD and digital starting June 15.