We have seen Hollywood and many independent film makers churn out many Found Footage movies over the last few years some good and some bad, but what makes a good Found Footage movie?
Found footage is a genre of film making, especially horror, in which all or a substantial part of a film is presented as discovered film or video recordings, often left behind by missing or dead protagonists.
I’ve decided to do my own round-up (in no real order) of some of the movies I have watched in a genre where I strongly believe you either get it very right or it’s a complete fail.
V/H/S was particularly hard to watch as it covered a few areas, it was a Found Footage horror anthology of sorts consisting of 6 stories with a wrap at the front and end which didn’t really offer anything to the movie except for give a reason to show these tapes.
Tape 56/Main Story Arc
The wrap around was about a group of people who are being paid to rob a house containing a certain video tape of which the contents are unknown. Through this scenario you get to see as one of the guys watches a bunch of found footage tapes which make up the separate stories.
The first story was quite standout, your usual mix of drunk kids, nudity and then shock and blood, this felt one of the more traditional of the stories but was shot really well and had the jumps needed to be effective.
The second story felt the most creepy for what wasn’t happening, without saying too much on the first ‘visit’ it was creepy that nothing happened but the shock scene wasn’t near enough effective for me to feel that bothered about it, one of those where it’s meant to be a twist but it just doesn’t shock you in the least.
Tuesday the 17th
The third one was the one that felt very dated and I feel was the least effective. Usual setup 4 young adults head to the woods, the Jock, the Geek, the Slut and the creepy girl, usual chaos happens. The thing I found slightly annoying about this is you could see they couldn’t really agree on what the ‘thing’ should look like so they lowered the quality of the filming when it was around, this didn’t add to the shock value it just made it harder to watch.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
The fourth story was the real stand out one to me, this could have been much longer maybe even a full length movie had the scares started off really small and built, a bit more like Paranormal Activity it’s all about what goes bump in the night, or more to the point, what goes bump on Skype when your creepy boyfriend is watching, top marks for this one, great shock factor and a fair twist.
Still reeling from the previous tape this one fitted quite nicely as the Haunted House clip, seemed very rushed, I think the build up to what was getting captured in mirrors etc. could have played a bigger part but a nice end to the movie over all.
2. The Blair Witch Project
Sometimes considered the best but (with the exception of cannibal holocaust) I think it’s just the original, or at least the original that was mainstream.
This was the best example of showing little for maximum effect, for me I really felt like I could feel the isolation and fear these people felt and before these kind of movies became ten-a-penny the marketing really worked as many people thought this actually happened and that’s pretty cool even if it’s quite short lived.
3. Troll Hunter
Someone once said they find it hard to follow Horror movies that have subtitles, I disagree, I followed this and never took my eyes off the screen.
This is slightly different to Blair Witch as it actually shows you what you’re running from, I thought the shakey-cam was toned down slightly for this but it didn’t stop it feeling like a Found Footage Movie in any way.
One thing that comes from these movies is the characters can come across quite annoying but as we all know real people can be annoying too, although the characters in Troll Hunter felt quite real without annoying the hell out of me.
Hans (Otto Jespersen) is the real stand out to the point that I can believe this guy actually hunts trolls for fun, he builds the tension that otherwise wouldn’t be there if it was left to the main characters to find things out by themselves.
4. The Lost Coast Tapes
Saw this the day before I saw V/H/S and I strongly believe it was not half as shocking as it should have been.
Much like Troll Hunter it follows the story of a bunch of film makers who are paying to see a guy who claims to have the body of a Bigfoot, the way it worked well was the more the filmmakers were convinced that the guy was playing a trick on them the more I started to believe this was the case.
The strength of this movie should of laid in the fact that people do search for Bigfoot, there are claims of photos and films of Bigfoot but they passed over this quite quick for me.
The downside of this movie are the unintentional/intentional comedy characters, sure they looked scared when things come on top but during the build up you were kind of praying for them to get eaten!
5. Paranormal Activity
Considered one of the more scarier Found Footage Movies, I found myself waiting too long for things to happen.
OK, I accept this is how you build the tension but I’m guessing it was the stationery characters that gave me very little else but to wait and see what would happen, at least in V/H/S you had the web-cam thing so two people were talking and things were happening at the same time.
Although I haven’t seen any of the sequels yet I have heard that the follow up is well worth a watch so I’ll see if I get round to it.
6. Grave Encounters
One of the best I’ve seen, I mean come on if you lock yourself into a haunted psychiatric hospital you’ve got it coming!
Grave Encounters, a paranormal reality television program decides to film inside an abandoned psychiatric hospital and shortly after locking the doors spooky things begin to happen.
I think where Paranormal Activity was a little sit and wait, this movie has more legs as the building itself is already a central character and all the left over equipment and furniture is just adding to the atmosphere.
I think the guys that made this knew exactly the pace at which to build the tension this is why it worked for me and not really being a hugely jumpy person they got me with this one, big time!
Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree with any of my points or can share your take on Found Footage Movies, also comment if you can recommend any from the same genre.