Found footage, that weird genre melding Hollywood movie scripting with shaky-cam faux-documentary aesthetics, has clawed its way back onto the big screens yet again with Apollo 18 (out in theatres right now). In honour, here are five of the best found footage films put to celluloid:
5. Cloverfield – Managing to make found footage big budget, this movie successfully puts a modern spin on the classic giant monster genre. The ending disintegrates a little bit in a why-are-they-still-filming-this kind of way, but the special effects ride more than makes up for it (horrified for days after the sequence in the makeshift army base). A sequel’s lined up for 2013, so keep a look out.
4. The Troll Hunter – This rare Norwegian horror film manages to successfully inject a heavy dose of prechristian folklore into the found footage genre. Have to hand it to the production team, you don’t often see trolls in your standard lineup of movie monsters. It’s also finally out on blu-ray if you have a need to check it out right this second. Be warned though: the humour can be a bit on the dry and Norwegian side compared to your average Hollywood film.
3. The Blair Witch Project – The grandaddy of the current enduring craze for found footage. Operating on a shoestring budget, Blair Witch managed to gross $248,639,099 worldwide with spending a mere $60,000, breaking records back in 1999. It may be a bit dated now, but you have to pay respect where respect’s due.
2. Man Bites Dog – The most effective films tend to have the most straightforward plots. In this one, a Belgian film crew follows around a serial killer, and the situation rapidly takes a turn for the absurd and hyper-violent. We’re talking NC-17 levels of violence for the year it was made, though your mileage may vary. It’s also pretty excellent as a film to take apart in a film studies kind of way.
1. REC – An example of the right way to do a found footage zombie film featuring some fantastic cinematography. The hallway scene in particular (the one where they first realise things have gone very, very wrong) is masterfully planned out. The cause of the actual zombie outbreak might be a bit unfashionable, but it works well with Spanish horror traditions. Definitely a must-see.
And our pick for worst, or at least most disappointing? The Poughkeepsie Tapes. The previews for this film looked amazingly creepy and they had some solid marketing via Youtube, but the end result was a bit of an incoherent, badly-acted mess.
Do you have a favourite found footage film? Or is the entire concept just a little bit too gimmicky for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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