What better way to spend your time during a pandemic than by filming a horror movie with a bunch of your close friends? That’s the premise of Untitled Horror Movie, a new film from director Nick Simon who co-wrote the script alongside Shadowhunters alum Luke Baines (who also stars).
Although, thankfully, Untitled Horror Movie doesn’t mention the pandemic at all. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the few projects that did try to capitalize on the pandemic tried and failed (Songbird, Love in the Time of Corona, Connecting, etc.). Most of us are tired of hearing about considering we’ve been living it for more than a year.
Instead, Untitled Horror Movie fits more in the vein of movies like Unfriended and Host, the latter of which was also shot and filmed during the pandemic last year.
The new movie centers on a group of six actors on the verge of having their television show canceled. Fearing what might happen if they lose their source of income, they get together and try to film a horror movie from their own homes, inadvertently summoning a real, malevolent presence in the process.
The Untitled Horror Movie was responsible for filming their segments.
Like Unfriended and other movies in that vein, Untitled Horror Movie is shot using Zoom and iPhones, presented like you’re watching a Zoom conference call play out in front of you. The actors –– six television stars including Baines, Katherine McNamara, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Claire Holt, Timothy Granaderos and Darren Barnet –– mostly remain in their individual houses without crossover throughout. Because of the unorthodox filming methods, each star was responsible for their own camera work, lighting, makeup, and sound.
You get the feeling that these actors know each other off-screen, which is true for at least two of them, McNamara and Baines who co-starred in Shadowhunters. The chemistry between them is natural and believable, despite the fact they’re playing a cast that doesn’t always get along behind the scenes. It feels like a real group of people, albeit not a particularly likable group.
Untitled Horror Movie: The cast brings their A-game, but the scares are too far and few between
Where Untitled Horror Movie stands out is in its actors, who all bring their A-game to what was probably a challenging shoot, having to do everything on their own at home, including the physical work. Throwing yourself around an apartment and making it look believable can’t be an easy task.
But as one character mentions early on, you have to hook the audience within the first 20 minutes or they’ll tune out, and that’s one of the main problems with this movie. While it mostly functions as a comedy, it’s also supposed to be a horror film. Yet it takes too long to introduce the supernatural element and the scares are severely lacking.
Given the talent of the cast, I feel like the script could have given them more sinister elements to play with, whether it be possession or something else entirely. The little bits we do get are fun, but it felt like the script was holding back. Every time I felt like we were finally getting to the scary stuff, it felt like the movie decided to veer away from it and retreat back to comedy, or scenes of the characters frantically discussing what was happening.
I’m not sure what their limitations were regarding technology if there was a budget for CGI or even some practical special effects, but given the way the movie ends, I think there was room for them to explore more of the horror elements to make a frightening flick. As it stands, Untitled Horror Movie is a great comedy, but exceedingly light on scares.
Untitled Horror Movie is available to watch everywhere on digital and VOD beginning on June 15. A special worldwide virtual event is being held on June 12, you can purchase tickets here.