The film world is always coming up with new ideas and genres to provide a typical film lover with an entertaining and eye capturing movie; in more recent years, new genres such as psycho-biddy, Jiangshi fiction, survival horror and paranoid fiction, have swept the nation, and joining these newly developed genres is the found footage genre. Although it has been dabbled in since the 70s, the found footage genre did not really pick up steam until recently and when it did, it found a very comfortable place in the film world. Starting with the popularity of The Blair Witch Club, this genre was able to add a whole new element to scary. The realistic approach it took to scaring the viewer left a lasting impression and brought insight into an affordable way for film students to find their way in the film industry. The found footage genre is unique in a way where it can apply to almost any storyline and still make sense. Because of the use of hand cams and “real” reactions, it can come off as a reality television show or a documentary, like The Sacrament. Additionally, the fun side of the found footage drama has more room for crude jokes and side splitting laughs like in the film Project X, or new parody film Found Footage 3D. Read on to see a list of the 10 best found footage films.
10. Project X – 2012
In 2012, little known director Nima Nourizadeh graced our silver screens with a hand cam film called Project X. The initial reviews made the film sound rather questionable, but it ended up taking charge of the box office. The film focuses on 3 high school seniors who plan to throw the most epic birthday party as a means to boost their reputation around town. However, things spiral out of control when their party gets too big and the schemes reach brand new lengths. This was one of the first hand cam films that did not involve zombies, witches, or a horror element.
9. V/H/S – 2012
Playing on societies’ emotions about home invasions and simple VHS tapes, this 2012 film focused on a group of troublemakers who are hired by a secret organization to break into a couple’s house and retrieve a few VHS tapes. When they decide to take a peek at what is on these valuable tapes, their world is flipped upside down. This film seems to have a lot of elements; zombies, dead bodies, criminals, amateur p*rn, you name it. While all of this may sound unappealing, what is really cool about this found footage film was the way it was presented to the audience; it is made up of a set of short films that weave a story within a story. It is definitely worth a watch if you can stomach disturbing behavior.
8. The Troll Hunter – 2011
This found footage mockumentary focused on a group of college kids who set out to make a documentary style film about a supposed bear poacher. What they end up finding is a giant troll terrorizing the woods; the students are stuck in the forest trying to survive this gigantic troll who has heightened senses, like being able to smell a man’s blood. This interesting film has some fantasy elements to it but it takes the viewer on a journey that almost humanizes trolls and makes you question their purpose. The filming took place in Norway, so oftentimes, the scenery is beautiful and almost unbelievable.
7. The Sacrament – 2013
Director Ti West, who had his hands in another film on our list (V/H/S), took us into the mysterious world of cults when he did the 2013 film, The Sacrament. Supposedly loosely based off of the Jonestown Massacre, this film follows a man (Patrick) who goes to visit his now drug free sister, who in a letter raves about this commune that she is staying at. He ends up bringing along two co-workers who are interested in the lifestyle that she raves about. Clearly when they get there, things are not as they seem and Patrick grows suspicious of the leader who is simply known as ‘Father’. Needless to say, weird things start to transpire, and they have to fight their way out to save their lives.
6. End of Watch – 2012
Probably the biggest budget found footage film with notable stars, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena, 2012’s End of Watch focused on two Los Angeles police officers who work in the notorious South Central LA streets. It documents their day to day lives, as they take on the rocky streets, their interactions with gang members and drug dealers and their personal lives that get enveloped into their work. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, this film, like Project X, was one of the few films to date that used the idea of found footage but does not focus on horror.
5. [Rec] – 2007
This 2007 Spanish film tells the story of a television crew filming life at a firehouse; they go on a call that involves an old woman claiming to be locked in her apartment and this commotion causes the building to be evacuated so the police can investigate. The camera crew and firemen slowly begin to disappear after random attacks and the building becomes a hazard. The residents and whoever is left from the fire department and the camera, are quarantined in the building where the murders resume. This film was so successful that an American version was made under the title, Quarantined.
4. Paranormal Activity – 2007
The introduction of paranormal activity in 2007 put a spin on the found footage film genre. It was not just a horror film, it was a horror film that involved a family being tortured by something in their home. The young wife claims to be possessed so her new husband sets up a camera to watch them sleep but what goes on when the camera is rolling shocks the viewer. Beginning with noises and flickering lights, it quickly turns into the young wife acting strangely, an incident with a Ouija board and a demonic spirit. This film takes a turn that no one would expect.
3. Fix – 2008
The 2008 film Fix, was an unexpected independent film that follows a man Milo, trying to get his newly arrested brother to rehab by 8:00 pm that night, or he will have to serve three years in jail. This film is filled with beautiful scenery, as the group races across LA trying to save Milo’s brother and trying to raise the $5,000 needed to get into the rehab. This was Tao Ruspoli’s debut film that included a great cast of recognizable independent actors. Their journey is packed with fun, action and the tale of two siblings trying to make their situation work.
2. Chronicle – 2012
In 2012, a found footage film came out that took the viewers into the world of three best friends who unexpectedly received supernatural powers. This film chronicles how they received the power, how it affected them and how one bad seed can spoil the bunch. Debuting to great numbers and a stellar cast which included Michael B. Jordan and Dane DeHaan; the action in this film is what makes it so interesting; everything from how the friends receive their powers, how they choose to use them and the consequences that occur from their greedy habits. This film is definitely going to surprise you.
1. Cloverfield – 2008
This JJ Abrams produced flick focuses on a group of friends living in New York, making their way across the city to a going-away party. However, on that very same night, a gigantic monster terrorizes the city. The found footage shows the friends’ journey across town to save main character Rob’s girlfriend, who is trapped in her apartment. What happens in between is a series of events that comes as both shocking and sad. Abrams’ cast consisted of Lizzy Kaplan, Odette Yustman, Jessica Lucas and Mike Vogel. The excitement in this film comes from the great special effects and the panic that Abrams is able to make his audience feel, as his six characters risk their lives for one woman.
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