Horror Movie Shot During the Pandemic

Even though production Hollywood is still shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, that hasn’t kept some filmmakers from getting their own independent productions off the ground. The filmmaking duo of Nick Simon and Luke Baines, who previously collaborated on The Girl in the Photographs in 2015, were able to complete principal photography on a new horror movie with a bit of a meta satirical spin on Hollywood: their film is about some vapid young celebrities who get terrorized by a demon while making their own horror movie.

Collider called our attention to the new currently untitled horror movie from Nick Simon and Luke Baines. Both co-wrote the script during the pandemic, and Simon took on directing duties. If you’re wondering how they were able to complete principal photography in the middle of a pandemic, the entire movie is told through computer screens and found footage. So what’s it about? Here’s how the plot is described:

“The story follows six actors whose hit TV show is on the brink of cancellation, so they decide to film their own horror movie. In search of a plot, they unintentionally summon a spirit with an affinity for violence, who starts picking them off — one vapid actor at a time.”

It’s always a spirit with an affinity for violence that gets accidentally summoned. It’s never a nice spirit who just wants to hang out and watch The Office on Netflix. Where are all the friendly ghosts? Is it just Casper and Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis from Beetlejuice? There have to be some more ghosts out there who are willing to split a pizza.

The movie is also said to be “a tongue-in-cheek satire of Gen Z celebrity, show business, and the horror movie genre that explores the behind-the-scenes lives of moderately famous people who will do anything to save their careers.” Combine that with the computer screen and found footage element and it sounds like we’re getting something akin to Unfriended (seen above) mixed with Scream 3, the latter of which took many shots at the culture of the Hollywood studio system.

As for the cast, Luke Baines stars in the movie along with Claire Holt (47 Meters Down), Darren Barnet (Never Have I Ever), Emmy Raver-Lampman (The Umbrella Academy), Katherine McNamara (Arrow) and Timothy Granaderos (13 Reasons Why). The supporting cast includes Kal Penn, who had a role in The Girl in the Photographs, as well as Kevin Daniels (Sirens) and newcomer Sohm Kapila.

Taking a cue from some virtual productions that have come together during the pandemic, like Saturday Night Live at Home and the Parks and Recreation special, the remotely produced horror movie required some extra effort by the movie’s cast. Simon explained:

“I’ve always believed that film should be a collaborative art form, and I don’t think there’s a truer example than with this picture. The actors did everything from lighting themselves — guided by our incredible DP, Kevin Duggin — to recording their own sound and doing their own hair and makeup. As crazy as that could have been, it was easily one of the most enjoyable experiences in my professional life. It was one of those once in a lifetime moments when everything aligns at the exact right time.”

Produced outside of the studio system by by Bronwyn Cornelius (Clemency) and Marina Stabile (Beatriz at Dinner) with financing from Randy Sinquefield’s Spectrum Studios, this horror movie sounds like a truly independent production. Will all the effort that went into making a movie under these unique restrictions result in a satisfying piece of entertainment? Post-production is expected to wrap by early September, so maybe we’ll find out before the end of the year. Even if movie theaters aren’t open sooner than later, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the movie to get a VOD or drive-in release. We’ll keep our ear to the ground to see what happens.

If you’d like to know more about how the production was pulled off, Vanity Fair has a big profile on the movie.

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