The “Found Footage” sub-genre of horror cinema rocketed to popularity after “The Blair Witch Project” became a gigantic commercial and critical success. The lack of expensive special effects and other simplicities of the found footage film style make it easy to turn a huge profit, even if the film performs poorly at the box office. Movies like “Blair Witch” and the wildly popular “Paranormal Activity” franchise keep the found footage style of horror growing, but aren’t likely to be in your horror collection because they have little replay value. Here are five films in the found footage genre that will keep you coming back for viewings again and again.
“Cloverfield” is brilliant. I grew up watching Al Lewis host the Godzilla and giant monster movies on Saturday mornings, so I was excited to see “Cloverfield,” wondering if a found footage version could actually work. The film is a video diary of a going away party, and the sense of voyeurism is so satisfying that you’re sucked into the drama and forget it’s a horror film. The intimate feeling of knowing these people doesn’t leave you as you follow the group of friends through a destroyed Manhattan. It puts a human face on the fear and tragedy of a giant monster attack, a concept that would seem silly in any other format.
Government conspiracy, tension, claustrophobia, paranoia, and unpleasant surprises abound in this film. Younger fans looking for jump scares and action will be bored with “Apollo 18”, but for those of us who are horrified by inevitable betrayal and tragedy, this film will stand many viewings. You’ll have a lasting sense of dread, and you’ll wonder if the things that the astronauts experienced were real or only disease driven delusions. The sense of claustrophobia in this film is palpable, more than other sci-fi horror films.
“Quarantine” can stand up to many repeated viewings. The ‘found footage’ comes from a news photographer, a character who’d be trained and equipped to catch action video. The camera follows the action in this film well, and there is a lot of action to capture. “Quarantine” is a bold, brutal spin on the zombie genre. It is a harrowing tale and elegant camera work. You will feel fear before this film is over.
The Devil Inside
” The Devil Inside” will chill you. Fans of demonic possession films will be impressed by how refreshing the found footage concept is to this genre. There aren’t many jump scares involved, but the performances of the different possessed characters will stay in your mind. This is one found footage film I feel strongly supports a good sequel. The ending left me on the edge of my seat.
“V/H/S” is a collection of tapes of people’s brushes with supernatural occurrences and murder. It’s a found footage “Faces of Death”, a scrapbook of home movies and security cameras. The scenes of urban legend type hauntings and murders are refreshingly original in their ideas and execution.
Dizziness and motion sickness from the shaky, “home-video” style camerawork, is a common complaint of viewing found footage style movies. “V/H/S” is the first found footage movie ever to give me motion sickness. One segment gave me a wicked headache and light-headedness. Despite some shaky camerawork, I’d watch this movie repeatedly. Some of the segments are a triumph of found footage horror cinema.
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