My Top 5 Found Footage Films, What’s Yours?
Found footage, mockumentaries, reality movies, POV films, whatever you want to call them, are a style of filmmaking that will always be here. They are presented with most of the film and storytelling shown through the camera lens from one (or more) of the characters or by surveillance footage from multiple sources. Often the footage is found after the fact, when the characters are presumed missing or dead and the footage/movie is played back for the audience. Sometimes it is not “found” but being seen in real time. Sometimes they are set up as a news-story gone wrong. The success of 1999’s The Blair Witch Project birthed the modern popularity of FF films. There were a few previous to that date, most notably, Cannibal Holocaust, but the availability of affordable digital video cameras in recent years makes films like this more plausible. They are sometimes marketed as ‘true’ or ‘actual footage’ and true stories.
Like them or hate them, they are a permanent fixture in the horror movie genre. Some directors can make better FF films than others. Some of the films are total garbage. But get used to seeing them, they are not going to be removed from the film industry’s repertoire any time soon.
These are my Top 5 Found Footage/ Mock-documentary horror/sci-fi films.
1) Quarantine / REC. (2008/2007)
Yes, I list these both together because, although they are basically the same movie, there are parts of both that make me like them for different reasons. If I had to pick just one, I would pick Quarantine, mainly because I don’t have to read the subtitles and because I like Jennifer Carpenter in this role. There are a few scenes that I like better in the Ameri-version, also. The scene with the CDC inspecting the bodies in the back room was one that I thought ramped up the tension more in the American version than the Spanish version.
2) The Last Exorcism (2010)
I know there’s a split in opinion about this one but I think the character of Preacher, Marcus Cotton, was fleshed out nicely and was the main reason I liked the film. The main story is about the preacher, not the exorcism and the girl. There are some creepy as hell parts at the farmhouse and the realization of Cotton, about what is going on, was a well-planned mystery. I even like the ending and if you think of the film as a story about Cotton, it makes perfect sense. The sequel was terrible. Avoid it like the plague. See my full review, here: The Last Exorcism
3) Cloverfield (2008)
The fact that this is a giant monster movie but completely filmed from street level is what makes this film so great. You never get a clear view of what the whole monster looks like and I think that works well for this movie. The going away party/drama at the start of the film is so dull, it feels like real life. Just when you think you can’t take no more, the sh*t hits the fan. That scene with the head of the Statue of Liberty rocketing over the character’s heads and crashing into the street behind them is jaw dropping. A couple of scenes may remind you of 911. I think sometimes it is good to be reminded. The characters feel real and in turn the situation feels real – you can’t help but root for the small band of friends to survive. More on Cloverfield here: Cloverfield
4) Apartment 143 (2011)
4th place was a toss up between this and Paranormal Activity. I think Apartment 143 won solely because it didn’t have a line of sequels, therefore, we didn’t see the same gags repeated four times. Strange things happen in a small apartment. A single father struggles to raise two children. His daughter hates him and we slowly learn the reason for such disgust. Watch it around Halloween with the lights off. Read my full review here: Apartment 143
5) Paranormal Activity (2009)
The 1st of the series is no doubt the best. Small nuances in their apartment cause Micah and Katie to set up surveillance cameras in their home. What the lens captures escalates into terrifying footage. Some of the creepiest parts are Katie getting up in the middle of the night and just standing there, staring at the bed. The film realistically follows how a paranormal event progresses, starting off with very minor incidents. It successfully creates atmosphere and tension. The dialogue between the couple sounds natural adding to the believability of the film.
I would consider the Top 5 as ‘5 star’ rating in the subcategory of FF films.
(0 stars = unwatchable, 3 stars = good movie, 5 stars = best in class)
Considerations and my star ratings (0-5)
The Bay – 4 stars
Chronicle- 3 stars
Apollo 18- 4 stars
The Fourth Kind- 4 stars
The Blair Witch Project- 1 stars
Buried Alive – 3 stars
Legend of Boggy Creek- 0 stars
Paranormal Activity 2- 2 stars
Paranormal Activity 3- 4 stars
Paranormal Activity 4- 1 stars
The Devil Inside- 1 stars
Rec. 2- 4 stars
Diary of the Dead- 3 stars
Death of a Ghost Hunter- 1 stars
Monsters - 3 stars
Monster- 1 stars
Evil Things- 0 stars
The Troll Hunter- 4 stars
Grave Encounters- 3 stars
Grave Encounters 2- 1 stars
VHS- 3 stars
VHS II- —
Behind the Mask:the Rise of Leslie Vernon- 4 stars
Hollow- 0 stars
The Last Horror Movie- 2 stars
Cannibal Holocaust- 3 stars
The Curse- —
The Frankenstein Theory- 1 star
The Dinosaur Project- 0 stars
The Last Exorcism part II -0 stars
The Amityville Haunting- 0 stars
Paranormal Entity- 0 stars
Amber Alert- —-
District 9- 3 stars
Lake Mungo – ——
The Tunnel – ——
Chernobyl Diaries – ——
Greystone Park- —–
In Search of Lovecraft – 0 stars
Noroi – —–
Ghostwatch – —–
If I missed anything please let me know…
Still want to see:
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
War of the Worlds, the True Story
Mermaids: The Body Found (2012) Discovery Channel
Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives (2013) Discovery Channel
What’s Your Top 5 Found Footage films?
List them below in the comments