5 More Meta Horror Movies to Watch After ‘The Exorcism’ and Where to Stream Them

“The Exorcism” hit theaters this weekend and is the latest example of a meta horror movie — a horror movie that exists within the world of horror movies and very much knows what it is, playfully tugging at the expected tropes in new and fun ways.

Russell Crowe plays an actor who, after getting cast in an “Exorcist”-style horror movie, starts becoming possessed himself. But is it his old demons coming back to roost? Or is there something more supernatural and sinister at play?

And if you’ve come out of “The Exorcism” in the mood for more self-aware scary movies, TheWrap has compiled a list of five favorites that will have you laughing, screaming and Google searching horror movie esoterica in equal measure.

Here are five more meta horror films to watch after “The Exorcism”:

“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” (1986)

Paramount Pictures

Looking back on “Jason Lives,” it feels like even more of a miracle. After 1984’s “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” one of the very best entries in the franchise, the series took a decidedly porn-ier turn with the fifth installment, “Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning,” released in 1985. The sixth entry is almost wholesome by comparison, thanks to writer/director Tom McLoughlin’s approach, which incorporated mythology from the Universal Monsters and a knowing tone (this is also the only entry in the franchise where the camp is open and the campers add some wonderful texture). The movie begins with a riff on the James Bond logo and continues with that sensibility throughout the movie. It’s honestly a blast — a highlight of the series and way ahead of its time, beating “Scream” to the punch by a full decade.

Where to stream: Max

“Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994)

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Wes Craven was lured back to the franchise by allowing him to go wild — and wild he went. “New Nightmare” sees Heather Langenkamp from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” filming a new entry in the franchise, with all sorts of crazy things happening around her (including some of the very best kills in the whole series). Gone are all of the things that gummed up the series after Craven departed — the insistence on catchphrases that turned Freddy Kruger into a merchandising juggernaut, but dulled his elemental power — with a new philosophical bent that goes a long way. At 112 minutes, it’s a tad too long, but it’s always fascinating and never dull. (There’s a moment in “The Exorcism” directly cribbed from “New Nightmare.”) Also: “New Nightmare” feels like the necessary stepping stone for Craven before he delivered…

Where to stream: Available to purchase

“Scream” (1996)

SCREAM, Drew Barrymore, 1996

As we’re on the cusp of the seventh entry in the franchise, it’s hard to properly articulate just how revolutionary “Scream” felt when it came out. It was a horror movie populated by people who understood what horror movies were, throwing out references to movies in the genre and watching them on screen. It was unlike anything anybody had seen before. And it wouldn’t have mattered if the movie, directed by Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, wasn’t so exceptionally well crafted — witty and funny and scary and thrilling. It would also inspire not only the sequels that followed, but an entire cottage industry of spoof films in the “Scary Movie” franchise (the original title for “Scream,” by the way). And yet there were relatively few movies that took the torch from “Scream,” in terms of their willingness to play with the form and function of these films.

Where to stream: Max

“The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)


“The Cabin in the Woods” is the alpha and the omega of meta horror movies. It takes the framework of a typical horror movie — a bunch of attractive college students (including Chris Hemsworth, who filmed the role before be landed Thor) retire to a slightly creaky cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun and debauchery. But wouldn’t you know it? Sinister forces soon befall them. While this all sounds pretty boilerplate, there’s an entire other level of “The Cabin in the Woods,” following a couple of office drones (Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford) as they attempt to engineer the kids’ doom. They work for the Facility, a lab that makes sure that horrors are inflicted upon various unwitting participants. “The Cabin in the Woods” is a fun as hell genre exercise, but it’s also a knowing examination of why we watch horror movies, interrogating things like the audience’s relationship with torture and their connection to much older storytelling. Consider this your slight nudge to re-watch “The Cabin in the Woods,” a modern classic if there ever was one.

Where to stream: Peacock

“The Final Girls” (2015)

The Final Girls

“The Final Girls” was written by M.A. Fortin and Joshua John Miller, who also wrote “The Exorcism.” It stars Taissa Farmiga as a girl whose deceased mother (Malin Akerman) was a famous scream queen. She watches her mother’s movies to feel connected to her. And then, in a positively “Last Action Hero”-y twist, she and some of her friends are sucked into one of her mom’s old movies. They have to use their knowledge of the genre to escape a mad killer, but can Farmiga really leave the movie if it means never seeing her mother again? It’s as funny as it is scary as it is sweet, and “The Final Girls” has inspired a whole host of imitation movies like Prime Video’s “Totally Killer” and much, much more. Forget about those Xeroxes, watch the original. It’s a blast.

Where to stream: Available to purchase

“The Exorcism” is now playing in theaters.

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