Found Footage is a genre that most horror fans either love or hate. It was the cool, shiny new baby for a while there and then it quickly started to become over-used and overrated. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a method that allows filmmakers to use a minimal budget to make a film that could very well be a theatrical hit (that’s a pretty tempting ROI for the folks involved). So now that it’s being used more often than it had in the past, one has to wade through quite a bit of crap in order to find the gems. But they’re out there, folks! Don’t give up on FF yet! Here are 10 FF movies that The Bloodlust thinks you should check out.
Segments from the V/H/S movies: 10/31/98 (V/H/S) & A Ride in the Park (V/H/S 2)
10/31/98 - A fun take on the “haunted house” idea and it even managed to include some weird culty/exorcism business. It’s also worth mentioning that it was a totally plausible found footage movie since it revolves around a Halloween party where one of the main characters is dressed as a teddy bear, complete with a nanny cam. So you don’t have to wonder, “why are they still holding on to the damn camera?!” This segment was written and directed by Radio Silence, who were also involved in the recently released horror anthology, Southbound.
A Ride in the Park – V/H/S 2 was definitely an improvement over its predecessor and even though it was a tough call choosing between this segment and the cult one (Safe Haven), I went with this. The story centers on a mountain biker, with a GoPro attached to his helmet, who goes for a nice ride in the woods and is attacked by zombies. Again, the plausibility and likelihood of the actual found footage-ness of this really helps the viewer to not have to suspend disbelief too much, which is a huge plus when you’re watching something that’s only 15 – 20 minutes long. For a lot of folks, zombies have been done to death, but this was a very clever zombie POV that was a fun ride from beginning to end.
Both V/H/S movies are available on Netflix
Hailing from Spain, this 2007 film from writer/director, Jaume Balaguero, was the inspiration for the American remake, Quarantine. However, I would recommend this a million times over the remake (which is almost always the case). It’s a simple concept: a TV reporter and her cameraman sneak their way into an apartment building after the firemen they were originally running a story on, are called to the building to find a missing woman. It’s safe to say shit goes downhill from here. The tension and unease this movie creates is palpable and, by the end, I would’ve been terrified by anything they decided to throw at me.
This movie was a recommendation that I hadn’t heard anything about so I had zero expectations going in, but I must say it was a pleasant, albeit disgusting, surprise. It falls victim to a few of the familiar issues that plague found footage movies – namely, why characters would still be holding onto a camera when they should be dropping everything and getting the hell outta dodge. However, I was happy to look past all that and enjoy this disgusting story of a small Maryland town that finds itself in the grips of an ecological disaster. I’d recommend not watching this whilst eating.
This movie was M. Night Shyamalan’s 2015 return to film writing/directing (I’m choosing to completely ignore After Earth or The Last Airbender). M. Night became a well-known name once he released Sixth Sense and precious little Haley Joel saw dead people, but then the quality of his movies seemed to diminish with each new release. Though, I’m one of the very few steadfast fans of Signs and The Village. Call me crazy, IDGAF. Anyway, The Visit was both hilarious and creepy and definitely the best way to announce a return to the world of good movie making.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
When using found footage to tell the story of the discovery of a collection of graphic videos made by a sadistic serial killer, it’s probably fairly easy for your movie to fall into the category of mindless “snuff.” If that’s what you’re going for, great - you do you. However, I’m pleased The Poughkeepsie Tapes didn’t go that route and, instead, told its story in such a way that the viewer gets not only the grisly visuals, but the unsettling and creepy atmosphere, as well. It manages to be disturbing and horrifying without feeling cheap and exploitative. Plus, if you happen to be a lover of True Crime, you would be crazy not to check this out.
This 2013 movie, loosely based on the Dyatlov Pass Incident, was another Netflix recommendation (every so often, Netflix gets it right). It’s a common found footage set-up: five people set out to make a documentary only to have things go horribly wrong and now their footage is all we have left of them. Maybe it was the bleak, frozen landscape that can’t help but make you feel isolated; maybe it was the general fear of some unknown force taking out each character; maybe it was the conclusion that I did not see coming (and I’m pretty good at guessing where movies are headed) – whatever it was, this movie was a fun watch from beginning to end.
Oh, Trollhunter. Why don’t more people that I know love you? This is another movie that takes place in a cold, snowy setting and it follows a group of students investigating the recent killings of some bears. They get far more than they bargained for when they run into Hans the hunter and learn that what he hunts is just a bit bigger than a bear. Trolls, people! If that doesn’t make you run to your favorite movie-watching service to check this out, I just don’t know what will. Watch it and join us Trollhunter lovers!
Trollhunter is available on Netflix
Creep was a fairly unknown, yet rather disturbing movie from Mark Duplass, who is generally known more for his work in the Comedy genre. It follows a videographer who answers an ad on Craigslist for a non-descript, one-day job at some remote mountain home. Anyone with half a brain should know that you’re taking a huge risk by even answering an ad like this but I guess when you’re struggling for money, you’ll throw caution to the wind. Needless to say, shit gets super weird and super crazy once our main character meets his new employer (played by Mark Duplass, himself). I was ridiculously uncomfortable almost the entire time – that’s high praise!
Creep is available on Netflix
As an avid traveler to foreign lands, the idea of coming down with some horrible affliction while in a foreign land with only your buddy to support you, is a rather terrifying one. The Directors/Writers of this movie, Derek Lee and Clif Prowse, both star as the main characters, which I feel helped the movie since they both know exactly how they want the characters and story to play out. Though slow at times, Lee and Prowse’s finished product is a fun and interesting take on the classic vampire monster.
The Taking of Deborah Logan
Growing old is a scary concept, and if you’re growing old and losing your mind at the same time, that’s even scarier. The Taking of Deborah Logan explores this concept it a round-about way (round-about in that there’s a snake monster of sorts involved in the story, as well…). With all seriousness, there are a couple of particular scenes from this movie that will stay with me for a long time and it’s not because it gave me fuzzy feelings about my grandparents. While this movie is by no means the scariest movie I’ve seen, I still think you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least give it a shot.
The Taking of Deborah Logan is available on Netflix
So that’s it for our main list. Have we missed any that you think are absolutely not to be missed? Or are you of the group that absolutely hates found footage? Wherever you stand on the FF genre, leave us questions/comments/movie suggestions!
Because I feel bad leaving some off of the main list, even though I think they were entertaining enough to recommend to others, here are my “Honorable Mentions”:
The Conspiracy (Netflix)
Grave Encounters (Amazon Prime)
As Above, So Below
Sinister “home movies” (only from the first movie)