Reflecting on my Best Horror Films of 2014 list I realized I had three found footage films make the cut. In the past I’ve been known to bash the occasional found footage flick as being gimmicky and extremely amateurish. So what made those particular three films stand out? Well for one, they weren’t gimmicky at all. The found footage style was part of the story and actually added to the progression of the script. This then had me wondering what Deggsy’s favorite found footage films were. And here we are. Deggsy and I aren’t the final word when it comes to the found footage sub-genre, but we do see more horror films during any given year than the average moviegoer. But as always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts. Which films did we miss? What films do you think don’t belong on our lists? We wanna hear from you in the comments section below!!
Anything Horror Deggsy’s Five Favorite Found Footage Films (alliterate much??):
A Norwegian classic, avoiding the usual demons and ghosts to give us some genuine (in every sense of the word) monsters. Original and different and watchable again and again.
I couldn’t agree more with Deggsy on this one!! TROLL HUNTER is not just a great found footage flick … it’s a fantastic film in every sense of the word. I’ve watched it at least ten times and I’ve grown to love it more with every viewing. –AHS
Not the first found footage movie, but the first to go KA-CHING! and make a million filmmakers think, “I can do that too!” But most will fail, simply because this one was novel, competently made, possessed a genuine sense of dread and uncertainty, and deservedly made a buttload of money for its creators.
I admittedly wasn’t a fan of THE BLAIR WITCH when I first watched it but have grown to appreciate it over the last several years. Like Deggsy says above, it’s “competently made”. If only Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez knew back then what an influence this film would have on future filmmakers!! –AHS
Better than its American remake, this story of a news crew trapped in an apartment building quarantined because of demons provides both a plausible reason for hanging around a dangerous place, and a palpable sense of claustrophobia.
I think REC is just as influential as THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was. REC redefined the found footage film for a new generation of filmmakers … plus it was violent and gory as hell!! –AHS
Flawed on a number of levels, I can’t help but enjoy George A Romero’s contribution to the found footage genre, which was also a chance to reboot his own undead world. Not his best, but still better than a lot of others.
I think what threw this one over the edge for me and made me appreciate what Romero accomplished was the dialogue and the way Romero humanized the characters. I agree with Deggsy that this is definitely not Romero’s best film but it captivates and gives the audience a new perspective on his living dead world. –AHS
Barry Levinson, better known for RAIN MAN and GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, brought us isopods overrunning a coastal town. Well made, with a realistic, topical threat that still makes me squirm.
I love love LOVE this film!! Levinson doesn’t just give us a great script but gives us several different mediums that captured all the action. There’s cell phone cameras, traffic light cameras, security cameras out side of banks, etc … . There were those who couldn’t get into this film but I found I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. This and TROLL HUNTER are ones I can watch over and over again. –AHS
Anything Horror Scott’s Favorite Found Footage Films:
This is the one that started it all!! CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST has the distinction of being one of the most notorious, gut-churning film ever made as well as being the first film to utilize the found footage style. The film is about a missing documentary film crew who went to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. Another team goes on a rescue mission and recovers the crew’s lost cans of film. On it they not only see the atrocities the cannibals commit but the horrible acts the film crew committed as well. After it’s premier, the film was confiscated and director Ruggero Deodato was arrested among allegations that he made a snuff film and the four actors were killed onscreen for real (as well as the infamous “impaled girl”). To prove his innocence he appeared with the actors on an Italian television show to show they weren’t dead. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST holds up surprisingly well after all these years.
The underground doesn’t get much deeper than this!! In 2001, controversial underground filmmaker Fred Vogel unleashed AUGUST UNDERGROUND on the world. As for the plot … well there really is no plot. The “story” here is that two brutal, sadistic serial killers go on a rape and killing rampage while one of them films their atrocities. At the time this was about as close to a snuff film you could get. I chose MORDUM, the second in the AUGUST UNDERGROUND trilogy, for this list due to it’s pure barbarity. MORDUM is unlike anything you’ll ever see or have seen. What makes this really hard to watch is the special effects, by Vogel and Jerami Cruise. And all of this on an estimate budget of $300!! This is one of those films you can’t take your eyes off of but you wish you could!! Here’s my original article on Vogel and his films.
LONG PIGS (2007)
Quite simply one of the best found footage and indie horror films I’ve ever seen. This is about two filmmakers wanting to make a documentary and stumble upon their dream subject: A 33 year old cannibalistic serial killer named Anthony McAllister (Anthony Alviano) who agrees to let them document every aspect of his horrifically violent life-style. Every aspect!! Writer-directors Nathan Hynes and Chris Power give us a great reason why the camera is always on and they also give us an amazing script. Sure McAllister is a monster but the filmmakers get to know him as a human being and actually start to sympathize with his philosophy. There’s so much going on in LONG PIGS and I was mesmerized by Alviano’s portrayal of McAllister. He sells his character 100%. LONG PIGS is also a scathing critique of the power and influence the media has over people. I can’t say enough good things about this film. This also became the benchmark against which I judge other indie horror films. Hynes and Power made a stunning, gory, violent film with an extremely modest budget. Check out my original review here.
CLOVERFIELD is by no means a perfect film but I really enjoyed this one. A lot of people hated the extremely shaky hand-held cameras used to film everything, but I thought that’s what really sold this film. A group of twenty-somethings are partying it up one night when they realize they are caught up in the middle of a gigantic creature invading NYC. I thought the way director Matt Reeves utilized the found footage into the script was creative and the viewer felt as uninformed about what was going on as did the characters on screen. When we finally start getting glimpses of the creature it was terrifying. I also love the ending on the ferris wheel … keep your eyes on what’s going on in the background.
MURDER COLLECTION V.1 (2009)
This is another film by the king of the underground, Fred Vogel. MURDER COLLECTION V.1 takes the themes of cinematic voyeurism, snuff filmmaking, and the traditional narrative style of storytelling and turns them on their head. This also, explores the close relationship between current technology and the violence that’s inherent in it. “Murder” is a website that shows real, explicit, and violent scenes of death. It’s run by a guy referred to only as Balan. We’re told the police tracked down the website and shut it down but Balan was never found and is still out there compiling real videos. Balan, though, isn’t committing the acts we’re watching; he simply compiles and shows real videos of death. We get all different kinds of deaths captured on all different kinds of media and technology. This is like a high tech FACES OF DEATH. I’m still eagerly waiting for volume two!!
I know Deggsy has the first REC on his list above, but how could I leave off REC 2?? As great as the first one was I think this is an example of the sequel out performing the original. There was more action, more gore, and the body count was astronomical. The found footage angle was also intricate to the plot and not just a gimmick. I love this film and am a huge fan of the franchise. You can check out my review here.
Special Mention: WITHOUT WARNING (1994)
I know some of you are thinking I’ve lost my nut. Why the hell would I include a film, starring Jack Palance and Martin Landau, about an alien stalking humans and in which there’s no found footage used on this list. Well for starters you’re thinking about the wrong WITHOUT WARNING. The Jack Palance film is from 1980. The one I’m referring to is from 1994 and was a TV movie. I’m including this as a “Special Mention” because it’s not so much a found footage flick as it is a cinéma vérité film.
WITHOUT WARNING originally aired on October 30th, 1994, which is the anniversary of the radio broadcast of Orson Welles’ THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, which inspired this movie. This film starts off as some generic television program and is interupted by a news network announcing that three meteors have hit the U.S, France, and China. Everything is very realistic and one of the news anchors, Sander Vanocur, is an actual news anchor. I remember watching this when it was aired and was captivated by it. Everything was very realistic. The next day I read and heard reports that many complaints were received from people who believed the movie events were real … even though there was a disclaimer before and after each commercial break telling viewers that what they’re watching is not real. Check this one out if you haven’t seen it yet. It has a startling ending!!
What are your favorite found footage films? Did Deggsy and I hit on some of yours? Which ones did we miss? Sound off below in the comments section.