FIVE FOUND FOOTAGE FILM FAVORITES
Found footage films have become a regular staple in horror. I like the idea of a found footage film,but often the movie doesn't satisfy me. If I find myself wanting to check out a new horror film, I'm immediately disappointed when I discover it's a found footage film. Most of the ones that I've seen feel like lazy film making by people who want to make a horror film, but don't have enough creativity, talent and drive to make a film that doesn't rely on long takes (editing is a talent), improvised dialogue and little to no plot.
Of course, there are good found footage films. Here is a list of films that I feel are not only worthy of your time, but also worthy of space on your DVD/Blu-Ray shelf. These films feature great scripts, top notch performances and even some snazzy special effects.
"Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)
"Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
A group of documentary filmmakers set out to film actual cannibals doing their cannibal thing and lost their lives in the process. Not for everyone. Graphically violent and featuring scenes of real animal death. This doesn't rely on it's boundary pushing violence, though. It's a captivating story with excellent performances.
This is actually better than any of the films on this list. The only reason this film isn't #1 is because I don't consider it a true found footage film. There's scenes of people watching the film and the making of the footage that is later to be found. Many fans still consider it a found footage film, so I will include it on this list.
5. "Paranormal Activity" (2007)
Directed by Oren Peli
This is a haunted house film. Not only that, I consider it one of the greatest haunted house films ever. The footage in the film comes in the form of mostly security cameras throughout the house capturing the ghostly moments. The found footage element and the very natural performances of the cast makes this film believable and legitimately scary.
4. "Troll Hunter" (2010)
Directed by André Øvredal
Group of college students set out to make a film about a suspected bear poacher and find out that Trolls exits! This film is exciting and funny. It doesn't show the same creature over and over again, which is part of the appeal. The film features a collection of different trolls that we get to see throughout the film. It's a Norwegian film, so reading subtitles is part of the experience.
3. "REC" (2007)
Directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza
Reporters for a television show are filming a night in the lives of a fire department when the call comes in to help an old woman in an apartment building. Along with the residents of the building, the TV crew and fire fighters become quarantined inside when it's suspected that a virus is loose. People infected with the virus become dangerously violent. This could be enough to make a horror film, but before this film is over, things get supernatural. This Spanish film requires subtitles.
2. "The Blair Witch Project" (1999)
Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
Three student filmmakers go missing in the woods, on the hunt for the fabled Blair Witch. This is the film that ignited the "Me too. I want to make a found footage film too" revolution. Although, you never see the actual witch in this film, I think this film teaches a great lesson in the "less is more" style of storytelling, relying heavily on the actors reactions to things seen off-screen and sound effects. Sometimes the things I imagine in my mind can't be topped on screen. My favorite thing about this movie is the number of people who thought that it was real back in 1999. That is due to a brilliant online marketing campaign and the fact that found footage films were not common yet, so it was the first of it's kind for most people.
1. "The Last Exorcism" (2010)
Directed by Daniel Stamm
The story of a minister who wants to reveal that exorcisms and possession are a fraud. Being that this is a horror film, things don't go his way. I love possession films. I also love southern Gothic folklore. This film mixes both. There are moments in this film that are genuinely creepy as Hell. One of the best exorcism films ever happens to also be this found footage film. The terrific ending has me coming back to this film for repeat viewings. Warning: there is a sequel to this film. It sucks. I guess if you make a terrific possession film, the tradition is to have a lousy sequel. I'm looking at you "Exorcist II: The Heretic".
(Artwork by Isaac Keith Martinez)