FOUND FOOTAGE MOVIES
Blair Witch Project
Ruby Le Rouge: I’ll go with Blair Witch. A lot of people like to bash it now, but when it was made it was acclaimed, and for a reason. With very little budget, and extremely little blood, they made a genuinely eerie movie. It is rare for low budget film makers to go the psychological horror route, but they realized that a handful of teeth had a far greater impact than gallons of gore. There were so many little details that still stand out for me, even 15 years later.
Caliber Winfield: Usually, I try and steer away from a movie already chosen, but Blair Witch was such an experience for me. While Cannibal Holocaust may have been the first found footage movie, Blair Witch was the first on a global scale. I truly thought this film was the real deal, I honestly did. Everyone did. They did such a bang-up job with making it seem legit, that up until it’s release, everyone thought it was real. Now, when I saw the film, I saw it at home, by myself, on my computer. It was a bootleg version that I had three months before the release, so this was at the zenith of the hype. I was PETRIFIED. I was 15 at the time, and honestly scared to death. It was so well done. Everything from the scratching of the tent, the howling, and then everything that went on in the cabin. Such a well done film. It really annoyed me when it came out on DVD when people said it wasn’t scary, when they were watching it in broad daylight with a group of people. No, nuts to you, it’s scary.
James Cochrane: Everyone likes to talk about The Blair Witch Project like it was the first found footage movie- and perhaps it gave the genre a shot in the arm- but no one has done it better than Cannibal Holocaust – the very film that was brought to court because it felt so real that viewers felt the characters had actually died in the making. Those of us lucky enough (?) who watched it back in the 80s on VHS, where the picture was so scratchy and faded that the horror, and realism, effected us to the point that we whispered its name because we felt we may be arrested if someone spoke its name at full volume. To this day, the woman impaled on the pole raises the hair on the back of the necks of old and new viewers alike. And some days still, I catch myself thinking these very words, “Maybe it was real? Maybe. Maybe.” And then I shake my head at my naiveté. And that is what makes for a great Found Footage movie.
End of Watch
Derek Johns: End of Watch may be a found footage movie but that’s not what defines it. What defines this film is the first rate performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. There is never a moment where I didn’t believe that these two officers considered themselves to be brothers and they wouldn’t hesitate to take a bullet for each other. End of Watch may not exactly do anything new with the found footage movie format, but the acting from the two leads make that easy to forget.
Caleb Masters: Chronicle.
Bethany Lewis: Lake Mungo (2008) is an Australian found footage movie that plays out like a documentary. The movie is about the drowning of young Alice Palmer and the supernatural experiences of her grieving family following their loss. The tone of the movie is extremely naturalistic, seemingly like an ordinary “unsolved mysteries” kind of documentary, lending it a feeling of authenticity. While many found footage movies are over the top and focus on giving scares, Lake Mungo uses the found footage to tell a story and examine the way in which families experience loss and grief. Because of this focus on character and the bond the audience develops with them, the creepy parts of the movie feel much more frightening. Australian movies also have an excellent sense of the twisted and unsettling, often allowing stories to progress in a rambling, naturalistic way while building tension slowly to unexpected climaxes. Its often more about delaying the payoff, building tension to the breaking point before using it to maximum effect. Its the opposite of most American found footage movies, which deal in scares per minute, and ignoring the law of diminishing returns.
Shawn S. Lealos: I have never been a big fan of found footage movies. I saw Blair Witch Project on the weekend of its release in theaters and hated it. Over the years, I appreciate what the filmmakers were doing, but that first experience has forever altered how I see the movie. I did like Cloverfield a lot and felt that it was one of the few done right and thought Chronicle was an amazing effort. However, when it comes to my “favorite,” I have to go with Troll Hunter. Now, a lot of people have discovered this movie thanks to DVD, but I actually saw it in a movie theater before it had a distributor at the deadCENTER Film Festival and I LOVED it. I thought it was very funny, had some wickedly fun monsters and some great action. Honestly, Troll Hunter might be the most fun I have had in a festival movie.