Untitled Horror Movie (Movie Review)

Untitled Horror Movie (Movie Review)

For the entertainment industry, particularly film, the pandemic was a curse that shut down most productions: social distancing guidelines making it nearly impossible to carry on with work. But for those who were innovative enough to think outside of the box, the cameras were able to continue rolling—or, well, the cellphones. Taking DIY to a whole new level, in 4K, the creators of Untitled Horror Movie served as their own makeup artists, set up their own lighting and even shot their own scenes. What you see is what you get: a meta creation wherein a group of friends comes together to create a film.

A unique undertaking that makes lemonade out of COVID-19, Untitled Horror Movie arrived to iTunes and Amazon on June 15, 2021 thanks to (Yet) Another Distribution Company, Bronwyn Cornelius Productions and Spectrum Studios Production. Anyone intrigued and wanting to know more can visit UntitledHorror.com after you finish reading this review.

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The film was directed by Nick Simon (The Girl in the Photographs 2015, Truth or Dare TV movie 2017), who co-wrote the screenplay alongside Luke Baines (The Girl in the Photographs 2015, Shadowhunters series), a talented actor who is featured within. As previously mentioned, Untitled Horror Movie is a story that centers around a group of friends-slash-frenemies. Currently castmates on a TV drama, the rumor of their series’ cancellation haunts the sextet into survival mode.

This is the impetus for Kip (Timothy Granaderos: [email protected] series, 13 Reasons Why series) to pursue writing, and he begins to draft a Horror screenplay that the others to star in. In fact, he’s already enlisted and begun filming with dramatic Max (Darren Barnet: American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules 2020, Never Have I Ever series), fiery Alex (Emmy Raver-Lampman: A Million Little Things series, The Umbrella Academy series), and ditzy Chrissy (Katherine McNamara: Shadowhunters series, The Stand series) when the news leaks to bad boy Declan (Baines) and diva Kelly (Claire Holt: The Originals series, 47 Meters Down 2017).

As they often note themselves, it’s all “very meta” as the group begins self-filming scenes for what they hope will be “The Craft meets Poltergeist.” Fully aware that Supernatural Horror deserves care and preparation to come to fruition, the six begin toying with a pendulum and a mystical Reddit curse. It’s not long before the situation spirals out of their control and they are forced to admit that they are no longer the driving force behind their production—a violent spirit has entered the building(s).

Much like game-changing films such as 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, Untitled Horror Movie does a lot with very little. It succeeds thanks to its tiny but mighty cast who, despite never appearing in one physical space together, have a phenomenal chemistry that makes their interactions throughout the film within the film believable. The fact that each actor was willing to take on a multitude of behind-the-scenes roles to bring the production to life speaks volumes of their passion for the project, though they are quite open about its flaws. Working from a script that is self-aware enough to turn these issues into comedic fodder, they often pause to reflect on what is not the most original supernaturally-themed offering—beating any naysayers to the punchline.

This makes Untitled Horror Movie part Supernatural Horror, part cast commentary, and a whole lotta meta; all rolled up into one delicious little pretzel nugget. No matter how that sounds on paper, we promise you that it is refreshingly quirky on screen—this is not the Horror flick that you’ve already seen 10,000 times before. While it’s not particularly scary, and the tension doesn’t run high throughout, there’s something to be said for the voyeuristic nature of the film that allows its  audience to experience the characters’ foibles in ‘real’ time.

Untitled Horror Movie still


However, this realism does come at a price. There are moments where the film can feel a bit disjointed, particularly in its opening scenes, but it’s an intentional ‘downside’ that allows viewers to believe that we are watching a group of friends work via video conferencing to shoot, share, comment, and edit. Seemingly to counteract this, the actors often deliver nearly identical material in sequence, which provides a natural flow that keeps the entire production from taking on the feel of a disjointed patchwork quilt.

As they work through all of their material the group does not spare one another from open mockery (poor Kip and his mustache!) and distrust. It’s a dynamic that has authenticity, providing one of the major driving forces behind the film’s success. In this, the cast is a dream. From Barnet’s ability to toss himself around the room with no regard for his own safety to Holt’s gift for delivering snippy retorts as she brings a Hollywood diva to life, they pull us into their world and make us joyful voyeurs. While none of the characters is fully rounded, we are given enough of their personalities to feel that they are something more than mere tropes.

For example, Raver-Lampman’s fiery feminist Alex is often the voice of reason, the calm amidst the storm of six very different personalities. In another film she might have been a brainy know-it-all with glasses; here she is anything but mousey. Taking a different approach, McNamara toys with us, allowing us to believe that Chrissy (Three’s Company inspo, perhaps?) is simply another ‘dumb blonde.’ Though she’s certainly not a Mensa member, there’s a fire inside of her that comes out when she unleashes her inner animal in a possession scene. Understanding that this is the acting talents of McNamara shining through, the actress shows great promise as a Scream Queen.

Granaderos’ Kip is the all-around nice guy who holds the group together, which, we suppose, would make him Fred if this was Scooby Doo. Conversely, Baines’ Declan is the hardest of the lot to pin down. Clearly a problematic actor with an attitude, someone who stirs up any set he’s on, he also has a softer side that sees him genuinely worrying about his co-stars. He is the only one of the group that takes steps to assist the others in their struggles, providing a depth to Declan that allows Baines to give a stellar performance.

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Additional amusing appearances are made by Kal Penn (
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle 2004, House series), Aisha Tyler (Criminal Minds series, Archer series), Kevin Daniels (Atypical series, Council of Dads series), Lesly Kahn (The Equalizer series, Quantum Leap series), and Sohm Kapila (The Mummy 2017, S.W.A.T. series). 

So, to recap, in Untitled Horror Movie “a bunch of people set out to make a Horror movie” and then horrifying stuff starts happening to them. The story, much like Chrissy, is not going to forge any new intellectual frontiers, but it takes a fresh approach with its ingenuity. Defying a global pandemic and wholly conscious of the fact that its reworking of Found Footage is a risk, the film counters any potential negativity with its light-hearted take on the material.

Do you “need more than actors and a script to make a movie”? We invite you to check out Untitled Horror Movie and get back to us with the answer. In the meantime, Cryptic Rock gives the film 4 of 5 stars. The Reddit reviews are going to be amazing!

 

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Jeannie Blue
[email protected]

Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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