The "found footage" genre is known to have started with the notorious Cannibal Holocaust (1980), but it is not until the huge success of The Blair Witch Project almost 20 years later that this type of filming started to get widely used in the world of horror cinema (or overused nowadays).
Because of the tsunami of recent release playing on that concept, something that tend to increase every year, it became difficult to keep track of the great ones. Here is my attempt to list the 10 best found footage horror movies around.
10. CLOVERFIELD (2008)
Cloverfield is the America answer to great Japanese monster films such as Godzilla or Gamera. With its spectacular creature (CGI are great for once!) and its realistic approach to the catastrophe scenario, this film could have been perfect if it wasn’t for the cheesy love story in the middle.
9. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)
The franchise has been heavily criticized over the years for repeating the same content over and over again , but the first Paranormal Activity movie is, in my opinion, quite a good one. It is typically a “context movie”. By that I mean that horror fans can have a totally different experience whether you are watching it with some friends joking around, or alone in the dark with your headphones on. Not a “great” horror movie (plot is nonexistent, acting is questionable, nothing really happen), but if you are in the mood, this movie can result in a deeply oppressive experience.
8. HOME MOVIE (2008)
This low-budget movie really does surprise by how good and disturbing it is despite the absence of special effects or even any gory scene at all. The story is basic, but written well-enough to keep the audience on-edge the all-time. The atmosphere is extremely oppressive and works well at scaring the audience. A brilliant example of how to build a great psychological tension with almost no budget at all.
7. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)
Aside from being the first found footage ever made, this movie is also one of the most controversial movies ever made, featuring disturbing scenes of extreme violence, sexual violence and the slaughter of six animals on film. Not a movie for everyone, Cannibal Holocaust is nevertheless a genre classic and the instant winner if we were to publish a list of good horror movies on cannibal.
6. THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES (2007)
One of the most underrated horror movie around in my opinion, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is also one of the scariest cinematic experience I ever came across. This is a highly disturbing movie, gruesome to an almost voyeuristic point, and clearly made to make the audience feel very uncomfortable. Not for the faint-hearted, this one is a personal favorite horror movie of mine.
5. VHS 2 (2013)
By compiling less shorts than the original VHS, but each of much better quality, this sequels bets the original VHS in every aspect. Four shorts: a scary one, a funny one, a disturbing one and a tense one makes VHS 2 a well-equilibrated movie and a masterpiece of easy-to-watch entertainment. Only the overuse of flashes, shaking, and bad quality shots made me a little unsatisfied.
4. TROLL HUNTER (2010)
A spectacular movie coming out of nowhere! This Norwegian troll’s movie, made by the unknown “André Ovredal”, immediately became a reference for monster movie fans. First, it is extremely funny. Second, there was a lot of work put at creating the many different troll’s species, which are all superbly-designed. The special effects are great and add a lot to the experience, making this movie a real pleasure to watch over and over again. The entertainment is total, a must-watch for anyone, even those that are not into horror.
3. BEHIND THE MASK, THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006)
A slasher like no others, The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a very clever parody of the slasher sub-genre. The movie combines absurd humor, sarcasm and satiric scenes, as well as interesting critics of the genre most obvious clichés. The story itself is great and kind of stressful at times, with a lot of references to cult slasher movies, something that horror fans always love. A “one of a kind” movie.
2. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is one of these films that leave a mark on all of us teens in the 90’s. It is one of the very first horror found footage (along with Cannibal Holocaust), but also one of the most successful independent films ever made, and definitely the one that jump-started the found footage trend. Most importantly, with no budget at all, this movie managed to scare the shit out of millions of people, establishing a reference that modern horror movies are still trying to imitate nowadays.
1. REC (2007)
In my opinion, the very best found footage to be found because it is solid on every aspect. The plot is relatively simple but because the film is relatively short (80min), it works out well. The design of these zombie-like creatures is superb. The use of the camera is clever with lots of oppressive shots such as the multiples ones in the stairway. The movie’s ambiance is very heavy and great action scenes come to bring even more intensity. The claustrophobic aspect of being locked into the building further adds to the tension, making the overall, results in a terrifying experience.
Almost made it to the list: Grave Encounters, Man Bites Dog (not really horror); Chronicles (same); Noroi: The Curse; The Fourth Kind
Worst Ones: Willow Creek; Paranormal Activity 4; The Last Exorcism; Apollo 18
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