Untitled Horror Movie (UHM)
Fun, meta horror movie/Hollywood spoof has scares, swearing.
Untitled Horror Movie (UHM)
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Untitled Horror Movie (UHM) is a found-footage-style meta-horror movie about a group of TV actors who try to make their own horror movie. Most of the violence and scary stuff is more suggested than shown outright, with a character shoved and thrown by unseen forces, a woman showing up with a black eye, characters screaming in fear, and a character bashing his head on his computer screen. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. There's brief but strong sex-related dialogue, and one character pours and drinks glass after glass of white wine. It's not particularly deep, but it's fun and clever enough to recommend to mature horror hounds.
Not that scary
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What's the Story?
In UNTITLED HORROR MOVIE, six actors get the news that their TV show is about to be canceled. While meeting over Zoom, they also discover that they'll likely be kept under contract by the studio and thus unable to look for other work. So Kip (Timothy Granaderos) suggests that they try making the horror movie that he's been writing, and do it "found-footage" style, all by themselves. The show's "star," Kelly (Claire Holt), objects but eventually goes along with it. A necklace worn by Chrissy (Katherine McNamara) provides an inspiration, and Declan (Luke Baines) looks up an incantation to read, while Alex (Emmy Raver-Lampman) and Max (Darren Barnet) act out lines and provide suggestions. Before long, something seems to have happened to Chrissy, and the actors realize that their spell may have been real.
Is It Any Good?
This found-footage movie starts typically with some "practice" scary stuff before turning sideways into a quite clever, double-meta movie with fun characters and some appealingly creepy situations. Of course, Untitled Horror Movie does ride on the coattails of several sharper, scarier movies that came before it -- specifically, Unfriended, Searching, and Host. But it works thanks to its insider knowledge of Hollywood (actor Baines, of Shadowhunters, co-wrote the screenplay with director Nick Simon) and the way those cynical, insider attitudes clash with the world of horror. Most of the time, the characters can't believe that anything paranormal is going on, especially knowing the actors' craft and the strange methods some use to get to a certain emotional place.
Jokes go by quickly if you're not paying attention. Holt, who plays the snootiest of the bunch and the "star" of the canceled show, is the only one with horror experience. "I was the lead in one of the highest-grossing horror films in 2017, and I'm not making a home movie," she huffs, silently referring to 47 Meters Down. Even with her huge ego, she's the voice of reason here. Simon and Baines also make good use of Zoom windows and phone cameras, especially in a scene in which Chrissy's computer dies, she calls Declan on her phone, and he holds her image up to his own Zoom camera. The scares are arguably more clever than frightening, and the characters are as obnoxious as they are interesting, but Untitled Horror Movie still pulls its many layers together in an entertaining way.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Untitled Horror Movie's violence. How did it make you feel? How much of it was suggested rather than shown? What's the difference?
What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like being scared?
Does Kelly's frequent wine drinking come across as cool or appealing? Are there consequences for drinking so much?
Why are found-footage movies so popular? What's special or unique about them? What are their limitations?
What does "meta" mean? In what ways is this movie "meta"? What does it seem to be saying about Hollywood, horror movies, or other topics?
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2021
- Cast: Claire Holt, Katherine McNamara, Darren Barnet
- Director: Nick Simon
- Studio: (Yet) Another Distribution Company
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 23, 2023
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