I’ve been asked many times to pen this and while I’m not one to shy away from a movie list no matter what the subject, I do find it hard to justify one of my favourite genres as it’s so wildly hated. So time for me to gleefully skip into the world of Found Footage.
My Favourite Found Footage To Date…
There are only a few found footage films that I dislike, for me the genre is exciting and really does get my adrenaline flowing, so much attention has to be incorporated into the making of the film which often leads to some really interesting shots and ideas that creep in, but on the flip side too much over thinking and determination to be sensational can lead to some terrible mistakes and often destroys a film.
There are a few things that really make a Found Footage work
- Realistic use of cameras
- Realistic camera expectations, cracked screen poor sound
- Unknown actors, plausible for real life missing persons etc
- Incorporating real events and places
- Thrilling mystery
Some things that really ruin a found footage movie include.
- Invincible cameras
- Known actors
- the footage is not cut it doesn’t appear to be found
- Plays out like a normal movie
- Too perfect and no mistakes
- Anyway back to the list.
Following the disappearance of a group of filmmakers in the Amazon, a Doctor embarks on a rescue mission. His trip does eventually lead him on the path of the remains of the crew after experiencing his own personal taste in cannibalism. The film is gory and rightfully maintains a stance as a golden oldie of the video nasty era and one of the pioneering found footage movies. It’s brave and not without mistakes but does depict real animal killings and is still rumored to be a genuine snuff film. I do adore it’s brutality amidst the 70’s hedonistic values that crept into the early 80’s.7/10
A bizarre Japanese film that follows a paranormal film maker documenting some very bizarre events, the documentary switches between several stories and clips but if you stick with it then it can be quite rewarding. As with a lot of Japanese films it’s incredibly jumpy going from one thing to another but the scares are great and imagery pretty disturbing, there’s more than the typical ghosts with long hair, check out some intense psychic, flocks of dead animals and lots of unexplained mysteries, a terrifying twist and a brilliant ending to top it all off, it really is marvelous. I really loved the freaky guy with the tin foil hat and was impressed by the effects, they weren’t expensive but executed well.7/10
After getting “Afflicted” by a vampiric virus while on holiday in “Europe” one unlucky backpacker tries his best to deal with his new unwanted lifestyle. The sickness is apparent at first but around the time that he and his best friend starts working out that he might be a bloodsucker he ends up killing his friend who was doing his best to care for his friend not matter how creepy he was acting. So alone he tries to deal with being a sucker and find the source of his virus, what he finds isn’t quite the cure he was looking for. The film seems low budget but is quite imaginative and actually interesting to watch, there is a lead into part 2 which I think could be really exciting if this could get some more backing.6/10
Spain have a lot to do to if they ever want to live up to the nightmares that REC (2007) created. But the Entity (English translation) does offer some really awesome scares. A group of students start their own ameture investigations into supposed haunted videos from the internet, unfortunately one of them turns out to be true and they end up unleashing some kind of demonic force which stalks them. It’s actually really creepy, and one of the few found footage movies that utilises those creepy moments in the corner of the room, or off screen rather than missing the big events, it builds up terror but then DOES deliver. Some scenes reminded me a lot of Silent Hill 4 but that was a scary pill to swallow so well done.6/10
I know I preach about top 10 lists then then have millions of honourable mentions and how they suck but I am incorporating a few sequels in this list, if you don’t like it “go fuck a duck”. So REC, one of the more recent films that caused the bedroom light to be left on, and a sequel that I had to watch during the day and rightly so because it brought all the fear back, sadly 3 was shit and 4 was OK but not as scary as it could have been. The whole narrative of combining “zombies” and demons isn’t new but it was a brilliantly executed in these two dark as fuck movies. A film crew are following a group of firefighters for their TV show, but one call gets them into something that is just pure nightmarish. After attempting a rescue mission they become imprisoned in an old tenant building where a zombie like virus is spreading through the remaining residents, after some investigations while fighting tooth and nail through the ever increasing numbers of infected they discover that there was a secret vatican experiment in the attic involving a priest and a young girl (not as kinky as you think). The storytelling is sound and the action scenes are literally to die for, a great cast and use of practical effects even for the most bizarre monster manageable, acted by the insanely elongated Javier Botet (check out his youtube channel). On the return we have a similar cast and more religious connotations as a new priest has to get a sample of the infected blood from the original test subject, but things go wildly wrong. Both films are dark and scary, and have a brilliant comedy zombie death scene (I know I’ve used both zombie and infected but just to clarity these are infected).9/10 – 9/10
Norway’sslick answer to the found footage monster crisis. A group of film students making a movie about bear poaching stumble on a shady character who after some stalking takes them under his wing and reveals that he is a lone Troll Hunter keeping Norway safe from REAL trolls. The film utilises a host of impressive computer generated effects, usually something I argue against but they are so detailed and executed right in this comedic horror. A sterling cast and a fierce and brilliant approach to something dynamic in the found footage pantheon.10/10
Another double whammy here, and really this entry speaks for a lot of interesting hard work. These are certainly some of the more inventive and freakily fun found footage movies of the decade. Each film has a different director but the shocking brutality of each is strong. There are different flavours and styles, along with ABC’s of Death (2012) it feels like the directors were trying to out do each other on the surreal scale, and it’s a brilliant opportunity to be outlandish and creative that really gives this shorts some zing, but there is a deeply dark under current, with a lot of mystery surrounding some of the stories, that vary from strange harpy dates, a zombie “go pro” mountain biking trip to alien abductions and my all time favourite, a satanic strange general alternative reality.. something for everyone I’m sure.8/10
This film blew me away and continues to do whenever I watch it. in a similar vein to the banned August Underground films this mock snuff film is a little bit more approachable. This film details a documentary of a serial killer who recorded most of his exploits, it shows various law officials and psychology tutors details parts of his psyche and actions in order to gauge what insane nightmare of a person the killer must be to exact this level of degrading torture. From clips of prostitutes popping balloons for him to the bludgeoning of a little girl and the systematic re programming of his longest lived “slave” the film picks apart the most gruesome scenes from thousands of hours of home video. What’s special about this graphic content is that it does look like old 80s/90’s home camcorder tapes and it has been suggested that it is real found footage for that reason. Brilliant shocking stuff!9/10
Whenever anyone suggest found footage to me I always totally forget this film! If you’ve seen it, you’ll wonder how anyone could possibly forget it. A deeply dark graphic insight into a serial killer, laced with tons of black comedy and gratuitous violence. The killer is a racist sociopath whose poetic and totally unpredictable. The film crew that follow him about and up getting pulled into his killing frenzies, unwillingly of course, but there is little holding anyone back in this movie, but the magic happens by how calm and “inviting” the killer is, as he brutally kills and maims people while often explaining to the filming crew and director his methods and his victims gasp for breath and plead for help, he remains joyous and doesn’t often break a sweat. 8/10
Just around the time when all Found Footage films were starting to feel the same, Apollo 18 came out, somehow freaking out a lot of people who inundated NASA with questions on the mission!? I thought all that hysteria died out with Blair Witch (1999) So this regular space mission goes awry when the US astronauts find remnants of a Soviet crew that look like they have been attacked but by what? Searching the barren moon landscape they find nothing… all that obvious but strange occurrences start to play on their minds but the fear is much more real. I really enjoyed the film, but I’m partial to a slower paced film, I really enjoyed the threat as it looked so unassuming but there are flaws with this film and so many questions but overall I really appreciated the old film/radio approach to the look and feel of the film.Admittedly it could have done more to bring in the crowds, been a bit flashier but I admire it’s reluctance to do that and how it remains a slow burning horror. 6/10
Ever since it’s showing at the Abattoir film festival this has been an absolute favorite of mine, a passionate priest is sent to a remote church with a film and sound specialist to investigate a proposed act of god that was caught on film, but before the Vatican are willing to accept it, they need to make sure it’s not a hoax. After arriving and setting up cameras and attempting to capture everything the two are joined by one other official but after the death of a local priest and unexplained happenings more Vatican backup is required after they realised what they have stumbled upon. It’s a brilliant display of great story writing, superb acting and a fairly unique story that the like of Ben Wheatley would be proud of and topped off with sterling performances from Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill. The only thing that lets the film down is the final scene,it’s brutal which is a great kick at the end of a harrowing plot but i’ll let you work out why it doesn’t work. 8/10
Found footage is often the “cheap”option when it comes to making a movie, something that M Night SHalayalaylayam was accused of when he attempted a comeback with The Visit (2015), but this has to be the cheapest and most thrilling on the list. Much like Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) the look and feel is incredibly degraded home videos follow a couple of guys as they kill, humiliate and mame anyone who is unfortunate paths. As an example of the creativity of Fred Vogel in one scene they have a girl tied up in the basement who they beat and rape, her decaying boyfriends body is in the bathtub next to her, they abuse her, cutting off a nipple and later smear her with feces and urine, then force her to eat her beau’s toe… then things get more disturbing. It’s kinda brilliant if you like things on the disgusting side, and if you’re like me you’ll love the trilogy. 8/10
Bejsus!! This film really got me good, and for that I adore it. I’m one of those horror fans who watches horror to be scared, I’m always looking for the next fright and this delivered it and has had long lasting effects on me. The beginning starts out simple enough, a college kid wanting to try a version of DMT that was pioneered in the MKUltra experiments, moments later his buddy films something wearing his skin.. a journalist gets involved and begins her investigations into this drug and the film gets deeper, probing into the government experiments and linking “Numbers Stations” this H P Lovecraft story had a new modern remake that makes it all terrifying once again.9/10