Hollywood has been making movies about movies for just about as long as there have been movies to make. More often than not, these are at least somewhat self congratulatory efforts, painting the film business as a cutthroat but ultimately commendable profession. The creatives behind and in front of the camera are lionised; the power of the moving image, we’re told, is something to be celebrated.
In the horror genre, though, things are often a little different. When Hollywood uses itself as a backdrop for scary movies, it has no choice but to dig into the dark heart of fame and the creative process, and what a dark heart it is.
From movies that investigate the highs and lows of celebrity to those that tangle with the pain and suffering that goes into making art itself, and those that take a look at the effect of movies once they’re unleashed on the world, these metatextual pictures tend to make Hollywood look like anything but the land of dreams.
They say to write what you know. Well, if that’s anything to go by, the folks behind these films know that the movie making business is a cruel mistress indeed.
10. The Final Girls
A knockabout horror with a premise so good it’s surprising no one came up with it before, The Final Girls is The Purple Rose Of Cairo meets Friday The 13th. A group of friends go to the movies to see a double bill of a popular slasher franchise. A fire breaks out in the theatre, and the only escape seems to be through a hole in the screen itself.
Only, they quickly realise that they have quite literally ventured to the other side of the screen, emerging in the world of the movie they were watching, the aptly titled Camp Bloodbath.
What follows is a gently teasing love letter to the slasher genre, most particularly Friday The 13th and Sleepaway Camp. The heroes are savvy with the rules of the game, and do everything they can to evade death by trope, keeping the other kids from having sex lest it lure the murderer, the machete-wielding Billy Murphy.
Unlike films with a similar post-modern bent, The Final Girls isn’t here to analyse the effects of the genre - it’s just great, high concept fun that stands alone as a new bloody horror.