Found Footage has been a huge success in the filming of horror movies over the last decade or so; getting its overwhelming popularity from the release of Paranormal Activity in 2007, now don’t expect Paranormal to earn a spot on my list because I particularly didn’t think it was all that great. The popularity hasn’t gone down since and with the upcoming release of The Gallows, I decided to throw together this little list. That being said, here are the 10 found footage films I found to be the best in this horror sub genre.
10) Blair Witch Project (1999)
I’m going to be honest; I found this movie quite boring and slow. The reason I’m adding this to my list, is because it mistakenly gets the credit for being “the first” found footage horror movie. The Blair Witch Project may have been the movie that brought found footage back into the game and that makes it important enough to earn a spot on my list, even if it’s the last spot.
9) Quarantine (2008)
After watching Paranormal and Cloverfield I pretty much had my mind set on how horrible found footage movies really were, then I watched Quarantine. I didn’t watch the original REC prior to watching this one so I had no expectations going into it, which is why I feel I enjoyed it more than most people. The reason this movie changed my mind is because it was actually entertaining and didn’t make you wait until the last five minutes for something to happen. It had solid acting, the story was easy to follow, and there was a good amount of scares.
8) The Den (2013)
This movie was great! This is what I was hoping for when I walked into the theater for Unfriended. Unfortunately I didn’t get anything close to this and that is one of the many reason Hollywood Horror, in most cases, is not as good as Indie horror films. The Den really explores webcams and how people can use them to sneak into others’ lives and watch them from afar. It is a fast paced horror film, and I have included it on my first post on Moviepilot which you can read here.
7) The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
The Taking of Deborah Logan is what I consider to be a hidden gem. I came across it on one of those horror movies you can watch on Netflix list and decided to give it a try. The movie starts off as a documentary exploring the effects that Alzheimer’s has on people, but takes a terrifying turn when it ends up being something far scarier; a demonic possession. Now the possession movies are becoming overdone, and it’s definitely no exorcist, but it is one of better attempts at possession for awhile. This movie has an overall creepy atmosphere, and you can’t help but feel sorry for poor Deborah Logan. This movie is a must watch.
6) The Bay (2012)
This was a found footage horror movie and an eco-thriller, with the message that our carelessness of the environment will eventually cause our demise. The Bay is another virus type film like Quarantine or REC but the meaning behind it is why it made it so far on my list. This movie is filmed documentary style through video clips picked up from hand held cameras, phones, news broadcasts, and security cameras on the stores of this town. This movie has a few jump scares, and a decent amount of gore.
5) The Sacrament (2013)
The Sacrament is another documentary style found footage movie, directed by one of the Indie horror scene’s most renowned directors Ti West. This movie follows a VICE journalist who goes to Eden Parish, an isolated community, to visit his friend sister, who is a member there. The community follows the teaching of their group leader who they refer to as “Father”. Overall this movie is very similar to the Jonestown incident, so it has a very real feeling to it. This movie is a slow burner movie but they did a good job at building suspense.
4) Grave Encounters (2011)
This movie is clearly poking fun at Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, but sometimes the movie version is better than the “real” thing, I say that very loosely. This movie follows Lance Preston and the crew of “Grave Encounters” as they are shooting an episode inside the abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. While locked inside they find themselves trapped in a maze of hallways and corridors, and the ghosts of the past have no intentions on letting them leave. This movie may not necessarily be the best on the list but it does have a huge following, and is definitely worth the watch.
3) REC (2007)
REC is the original and Spanish version of my number 9 on the list, Quarantine. The movie has the same plot; TV reporter gets a call to a house in the middle of the night and ends up finding more than what she bargained for. It’s a virus movie, but it is done quite better than Quarantine and since it’s the original it definitely deserves a higher spot on my list. This movie is a personal favorite for many people but since it is subtitled it isn’t for everyone.
2) V/H/S and V/H/S/2 (2012/2013)
These are movies you either love or hate. I loved both of these movies; the third and final installment was nowhere close to its predecessors. Both of these movies are anthologies so of course some clips are better than the rest. The reason these movies made it this high on my list is because they are so bizarre and different. The first V/H/S was the better one with the most original clips, and a whole lot of gore. V/H/S/2 is where things started getting wishy washy but it did have two brilliant clips which were “A Ride in the Park” and “Safe Haven”. These movies aren’t for the faint of heart and if you aren’t a huge fan of found footage I wouldn’t recommend them to you, but if you are and want to see something bizarre and different these are the movies for you.
1) Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
For some reason all the found footage lists fail to include this movie, when it is the most important movie in this sub-genre because it started the whole entire thing. Aside from it being the most influential movie on the list, it is the most controversial as well due to the fact they kill real animals. Cannibal Holocaust is raw and gritty and shows just how barbaric humans can be. This movie isn’t for animal lovers but it is definitely for the gore hounds out there. With Eli Roth’s upcoming homage to the movie, “The Green Inferno”, I would check this one out before you head to the theaters to watch that in September.
Fun fact on this movie, the cast had to sign a contract agreeing to disappear for a year after shooting to help maintain the illusion that they had died.