By Brock Cooper (doddleNEWS)
With Paranormal Activity 4 coming out and the film Sinister featuring a heavy found footage aspect, I thought we should take a look back and check out some of the best found footage films out there. These films either revolutionized the genre in some way or were just a premiere example of the genre. [Editor’s Note: We’re re-publishing this article since today, January 18, 2018, is the 10th anniversary of Cloverfield.]
In 2008, J.J. Abrams wanted to recreate the monster movies that were popular in Japan. Rather than a standard Godzilla-esque rampage, he chose to examine the scene through the eyes of a small group of people using a hand-held camera operated by Hud (a cleverly disguised homage to heads up display.) Thanks to Hud’s shaky camera work, you don’t get to see much of the monster itself until farther along in the movie. Instead, it focuses on the people and how they are reacting to the devastation and trying to survive. Hud captures the gory truth of the world including his own untimely demise. This is one of the few big budget found footage films made and while it may not have been too popular, it definitely has a place on this list.
4. Rec. / Quarantine
Rec was a Spanish-language horror film that not only gained traction in the states, but spawned a U.S. version called Quarantine. The movie follows a group of people trapped in an apartment building that has been quarantined by the government. Anyone trying to get out is shot and one by one they succumb to a deadly rabies-like disease. The victims aren’t zombies, but they’re zombieish, This is a mash-up of found footage and survival horror. Can anyone forget the final scene of the trailer as a woman is dragged away from the camera by something unknown. There have been two sequels to this movie and I wasn’t too fond of them, but I have to give the first one a thumbs up for mixing the genres.
3. The Last Exorcism
Patrick Fabian played the Rev. Cotton Mathers, an exorcist that doesn’t believe in any of it and basically uses people to make money. He’s a man with some problems of faith and invites a documentary film crew to tape his last exorcism, which needless to say goes awry and reaffirms his faith just before he dies. This movie has a great sense of humor in the beginning as we watch him trick people and bring humor to certain aspects of fanatical beliefs. It grows darker as he at first believes the girl to be abused and later actually possessed by a demon baby. The Last Exorcism is perhaps best known for its chatroulette viral campaign that featured an attractive girl taking off her top, but just before she lets it all hang out, turns into a monster.
2. Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity is the story of a young woman that begins to believe her family has been terrorized by a demon. Her boyfriend tapes everything around the house, and we watch as footsteps mysteriously appear and items begin to move on their own. The happenings become more violent as the movie goes on. This was one of the first found footage films to introduce special effects even if they were on a basic level. It lacked the sophistication of big budget horror and that just made everything seem that more real. The fourth film of the series will premiere soon. The special effects were rudimentary, but they helped to create the mood and the filmmakers did the rest.
1. The Blair Witch Project
You have to give homage to one of the originators of the genre, the film that made it so popular today. Blair Witch may not have been the first, but it was definitely the most successful found footage movie of its time and helped to formally create the genre. It followed a small group of student filmmakers looking to create a documentary on the Blair Witch of Maryland. The story was completely false, as was the disappearance, but for months people debated if everything was real. It even had fake documentaries about the Blair Witch to gain credence. It was this movie that put found footage on the map and deserves to hold the top spot.