This is a Top 10 of one of the most prolific subgenres in Horror in the last few years, the new face of Horror in the 10s: Found Footage/Mockumentary.
- 10) Paranormal Activity (2007)
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.
"Paranormal Activity" came out with a bold tagline, "The scariest movie ever" or something like that. Ask me if the movie lives for that expectation and I will say definitely not! In fact, I don't like this movie at all! Why is it here then? The answer is simple: Like it or not, Paranormal Activity is one of the most influential horror movies of the past decade, it resurrected the found footage genre that became popular with The Blair Witch Project in 1999, by bringing the horror to a normal house instead of dark woods. The creative use of point of view and security cameras is the one true accomplishment of the film and also of the whole franchise.
- 9) The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
In an abandoned house in Poughkeepsie, New York murder investigators uncover hundreds of tapes showing decades of a serial killer's work.
Released in 2007, "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" never stood a chance to see the daylight, as the attention of the horror community was divided between Paranormal Activity, REC and Romero's Diary of the Dead. With a mockumentary style rather than following a whole uncut sequence of events, the movie is a compilation of the disturbed recordings made by a deranged serial killer in the town of Poughkeepsie.
- 8) V/H/S (2011)
When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.
V/H/S was the first anthology horror movie to use found footage style, which spawned two other sequels, the last of them, "V/H/S - Viral" coming up in 2014. The original VHS assembles a good team of ascending horror filmmakers and the short films jumps from a succubus, to serial killing, to alien activity and finishing with a classic haunted house.
- 7) Afflicted (2014)
Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely.
The transformation of man into a night creature is the focus of Afflicted, an indie flick whose biggest accomplishment is the extraordinary use of point of view camera, which is enough to guarantee its position among the best found footage movies of all time.
- 6) The Borderlands (2014)
Follows a team of Vatican investigators sent to the British West Country to investigate reports of paranormal activity at a remote church.
At first sight, The Borderlands might not offer much in terms of innovation or plot; In fact, the most extraordinary trait of the movie is the realistic tone, which is sustained by the simplicity of everything. Plausible characters and dialogues, the gloomy appearance of the small town and the creepiness of the church itself are some of the elements creating a haunting atmosphere.
- 5) Noroi (Aka Noroi - The Curse) (2005)
A documentary filmmaker explores seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents connected by the legend of an ancient demon called the "kagutaba."
The only representative of Asian cinema in this list is the Japanese "Noroi the Curse", by Koki Shiraishi, known by the extreme horror flick Grotesque (2009). The movie explores a dark side of Japanese culture and folklore, mostly unknown for Westerns but nonetheless incredibly scary. The movie is also more like a mockumentary (fake documentary) than just a series of lost footage.
- 4) V/H/S 2 (Aka S-V/H/S) (2013)
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
The second installment in this recent franchise surpasses the original film in every aspect; crazier and bloodier, the new cast of directors explored even further the uses of point of view camera, bringing back aliens and hauntings but also adding zombies and evil cults; the last deserves special mention as it is by far the best short film committed to a horror anthology. "Safe Haven" by the insane double Gareth Evans (The Raid) and Timo Tjahjanto (Macabre) is utterly bizarre and infernal.
- 3) Behind the Mask The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them.
In 2012 "The Cabin in the Woods" stormed the horror scenario with the fantastic "parody" of one of its most popular subgenres; however, this wasn't the revolutionary and unique film most people believe it to be. Six years before, Scott Glosserman deconstructed the Slasher subgenre with his brilliant "Behind the Mask", one of the best written horror movies ever in the shape of a fake documentary.
- 2) The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.
We all heard people say that The Blair Witch Project wasn't the first found footage movie because of Cannibal Holocaust, but the truth is the project by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez is the most important film within this subgenre and the film that helped to shape the upcoming decade of horror, bringing back the idea of playing with the audiences beyond the movie screening, pushing the boundaries of reality and fiction.
- 1) REC (2007)
A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
Being the most important found footage ever wasn't enough to make Blair Witch stop the horrific imagery of REC, the Spanish horror movie from 2007, directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza that spawned a franchise with other two movies, an upcoming new one in 2014, a remake and a sequel of the remake. One of the most terrifying movies of the new century, REC is painfully claustrophobic and the build-up of tension is nonstop, culminating in one hell of a scary final act.
Cloverfield (2008) - The monster film by Matt Reeves is a genre blend; it crosses the horror genre but stands mostly as a sci-fi thriller.