The Pretty Little Liars Spin-Off Is Full Of Horror Movie References

The original Pretty Little Liars aired on Freeform for seven seasons from 2010 to 2017, revolving around teenage girls who are stalked by A, someone who knows everything about them and uses their secrets to manipulate them. The first three episodes of HBO Max spin-off Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin are now available and the new series takes a slasher approach to the story.

This time, Imogen Adams (Bailee Madison) is pregnant and trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s death while wondering why a creepy man with a deformed face seems to be stalking the town of Millwood. Imogen’s friend Tabby Hawthorne (Chandler Kinney) loves horror movies, which results in many horror movie references throughout these episodes.


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When ranking the seasons of Pretty Little Liars, some are better than others, but the spin-off is entertaining so far. Tabby is a well-crafted character who works at the town movie theater and dreams of going away for college so she can become a filmmaker. It’s fun to spot the many references to classic and recent horror films, whether it’s something that Tabby has said or a certain shot reminds fans of the genre of a favorite flick.

Pretty Little Liars is one of the best teen horror TV shows and the spin-off is just as good. There is an awesome shot when Imogen is sitting in class in the pilot episode and when she looks out the window, she sees a figure standing outside. This freaks her out, but when she looks back, he’s gone. This is a reference to the original 1978 Halloween when final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) does the same thing. This works well as it’s enjoyable for Halloween fans to see and it’s also a successful scene, as Imogen is legitimately scared and she knows that something strange is happening in her town.

The villain himself is reminiscent of Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. He wears clothing that looks like a janitor’s uniform and has long, stringy and gross hair, along with a deformed face that definitely has a backstory behind it. He stalks around, hiding and staring at the residents of Millwood, and he’s responsible for Karen Beasley’s (Mallory Bechtel) shocking death, as he pushes her over the rafters at school and she falls.

This is another opportunity for a horror film reference, as Karen and her twin sister Kelly wanted to follow Stephen King’s career and dump blood on Imogen when she was crowned Spirit Queen. The villain, who the girls think is A, is the stuff of nightmares and looks perfectly terrifying. There’s a genuinely scary scene when Imogen hides in an old warehouse while the villain walks around and it’s unclear if she will be safe. It feels like he can come out at any moment and decide who his next victim is going to be, and the show succeeds in creating a tense atmosphere in the first three episodes.

Tabby also makes many comments about the horror genre since it’s something that she loves so much. She tells her teacher off for not including various filmmakers on the curriculum and decides to hold a Jordan Peele double feature at the movie theater, showing Get Out and us. When discussing Kelly and Karen’s abusive father, Tabby says that the situation is as creepy as Pet Sematary and then changes her mind, referencing the beloved A24 horror film hereditary. Most of the time, these comments work, as Tabby is determined to compare real life situations to the stories that she has watched unfold on the big screen. This is like how Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) lives his life according to Steven Spielberg films in Dawson’s Creek. Both characters are aspiring filmmakers who will learn that life can’t always imitate art, but they take comfort in these stories, and no one can blame them when high school is so hard.

Tabby’s tendency to name horror films can be a bit much as she sometimes says too many in the same scene. And it doesn’t always seem realistic that someone would always have the perfect movie reference ready, like when Imogen needs a dress for the big dance and Tabby compares it to Lady Birdand when she talks about her “favorite boy coming of age movies.”

But for the most part, the decision to make Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin part of the slasher genre was a smart one. There is a real sense of danger in every single scene as the main characters wonder what the connection is between the rave where their parents’ friend died 22 years ago and why they are being targeted today. It will be a lot of fun to continue watching season 1 of the show to see what other horror references come up.

NEXT: Pretty Little Liars: Every Major “A” Reveal, Ranked

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