Talkback: What's the Best 'Found Footage' Horror Film?

paranormal3_300.jpgThe very existence of Paranormal Activity 3 may induce a few eye-rolls, but at this point it's hard to deny the sheer effectiveness of "found footage" horror films. After Time featured a cover story on The Blair Witch Project in '99, it appeared we'd be in for years and years of copycats, but there have been more than a handful of inventive twists on the young genre. What's your favorite?

It's only right to begin this discussion with Cannibal Holocaust, the 1980 Italian horror movie with outrageous violence and an even spookier reputation. The Amazon-set tribal bloodbath was banned in a few countries thanks to the perception that it was a snuff film (director Ruggero Deodato was eventually cleared of obscenity charges), but a few of the animals on-screen were actually killed. So, that's awful and repugnant -- but it's also a very jarring and horrifying film. Better yet, it polarizes critics to this day, which means you're obligated to see it.

Perhaps I caught The Blair Witch Project way too late in its hype to appreciate the shock of its narrative, but I felt it was a slow, repetitive, and ultimately unclever movie. I honestly think the big-budget brass of Cloverfield is superior, and not just because I'm always rooting for this Odette Yustman/Annable person to strike it big on the big screen. (She's currently on that Christian Slater series Breaking In, which comes back at midseason.) Furthermore, based on style alone, Cloverfield will hold up years from now. Count on it.

So it's Cannibal and Annable for me. What are your favorites? Extra points go to those who phrase their argument in the form of found-footage hyperventilation.


  • The WInchester says:

    REC provides...*gasp*... thrills and terror... and a hot girl... in... a...

  • ZebedeeDooDah says:

    Oh my god, what's happening? Oh my god.
    I was quite fond of The Troll Hunter.
    Oh my god! What's happening? Oh. My. God.

  • Jake says:

    Well, for some reason, I always really liked the other Blair Witch film that many believe the Blair Witch people stole from-- The Last Broadcast. I came across it as I flipped through the channels one day and landed on IFC, like ten minutes into the film. Having never heard of it, I assumed (wrongly) that this film must be some obscure documentary that the Blair Witch people had used as a basis for their film. TLB deals with the "New Jersey Devil" as opposed to the "Blair Witch" but follows a similar storyline of people going into the woods to find the mysterious killer, but with a narrator/doc filmmaker who has a Nick Broomfield feel to him. As the "documentary" went on it got crazier and creepier by the minute until I finally realized near the end that it was all fake. But honestly, it was the best way to watch a film like that. Completely by accident with no foreknowledge of anything about it. Consequently, it's one of my favorites and am always surprised at how much the Blair Witch intentionally or accidentally had in common with it. But had I happened on the Blair Witch in the same way, I'm not so sure I would have bought it since it was just some found footage, as opposed to a realistic doc feel.
    Anyway, I also liked Cloverfield, and didn't understand why some people weren't into it. It was a very fun ride.

  • metroville says:

    Superior life forms will certainly enjoy Jack & Jill after they invade and wipe us off the face of face of the Earth.

  • KevyB says:

    Cloverfield might have been okay if the characters weren't all a bunch of drips. A film isnt scary if you're actively rooting for its participants to die.
    Personally, though, the whole conceit of "lost footage" films bothers me. The style just calls attention to itself constantly. For a horror film to work, you must believe everything around the premise, so then you also buy the ridiculous premise. Running from gigantic monsters and still getting footage is a bit ridiculous and it makes you realize you're watching a movie. I much prefer this technique in small doses. Like the scene in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer when the camera falls to the floor and catches the murder happening in the next room.

  • Morgo says:

    I vote REC. But the sequel, remakes, Paranormal Activity and sequel, Blair Witch Project all scared me too. I liked Cloverfield too

  • Cinesnatch says:

    I also vote [REC] way over any other found footage film. If you want an example of how to do it, watch that one. The others are lame and worthless.

  • Chasmosaur says:

    Saw TrollHunter last night. I don't know if it really qualifies as found-footage horror, but it was an awesome example of found-footage moviedom.

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