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.