Maybe a filmmaker wants to tip their hat to the slashers and psychos who thrilled and chilled them in their youth; perhaps they want to make a post-modern comment on the nature of watching violent entertainment; maybe they just want to scare us good and proper with a moment of sheer blood-curdling terror. Whatever the reason, there are some pretty good horror movies about watching horror movies; here are seven (admittedly skewed towards the modern and the domestic) for your perusal.
Kevin Williamson's sly, self-referential script exploded every slasher-flick cliché ... and picked some darkly glimmering moments out of the rubble. Starring Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, a girl beset by a masked killer, Scream paved the way for a host of imitators, but the original is a surprisingly fresh and remarkably well-structured mystery -- plus, Williamson and director Wes Craven's commentary on the DVD is like a master-class on the history and methodology of slasher film. When the blood-stained climax sees our heroine suggesting our killers have "seen too many movies," the reply comes back fast: "Now Sid, don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos; movies make psychos more creative!" It's a great line -- and you also wonder if it's true. Scream's killer famously asked "Do you like scary movies?" Scream itself asked why you like scary movies, and left you to puzzle over your answer. (Bonus question: How many times did Scream show up on a Cinematical Seven throughout the month of October?)
2) My Little Eye (2002)
Five contestants sign up for a reality-TV-style contest; they spend six months locked together in an isolated home. If you stick it out for the duration, everyone wins a cool million dollars; if one person leaves, though, everyone loses. Much of My Little Eye is shot with distorted web-cams and a you-are-there queasiness -- we're the audience for the "show," and we get to witness as things start to go very, very wrong. Eventually, the truth comes out -- and we feel ourselves becoming a very different kind of viewer, watching something very different than the 'contest' in the film's set-up, seeing the film's events through very different eyes. My Little Eye may not be perfect, but it has one grim, chilling moment that's among the scariest, creepiest scenes I've ever seen in a horror movie.