Since The Blair Witch Project in 1999, the horror genre has tried to replicate the handheld camera technique for a different and scarier experience. Programmes like Most Haunted and Ghost Hunting with Derek Acorah introduced the idea to reality T.V and both programmes were extremely popular because of it. But which film has been the most effective at using this technique?
Image by Peter Back
The Blair Witch Project – 7/10
As mentioned before, the film’s “found-footage” format was groundbreaking for its time and made the film hugely favourable by critics. With a reported budget of around $20,000, the film grossed over $248,639,099 making it a completely unexpected success for the writers and actors – who improvised all of their scenes with real people – and gave the film international acclaim.
The film is also considered to be one of the first to be marketed online, with fake police reports and interviews about the characters, making people believe that it really was a documentary.
Cloverfield (2008) - 5/10
Lost creator J.J. Abrams’ monster-movie created a lot of excitable hype due to its discreet cloak-and-dagger approach to the trailer – they didn’t finalise the title until a release date was set – as well as putting the trailer amongst other trailers unannounced for strategically picked films.
The story follows a group of friends at a going away party, which one of the friends is filming, when they think there’s an earthquake. The party makes its way onto the road outside and narrowly misses the head of the Statue of Liberty crashing down on them with claw marks through it.
While the film keeps you in suspense until the very end, the ending itself was a little disappointing and made it less believable that an operating camera would even be there.
[R.E.C] (2007) - 7/10
Rarely do foreign horror films become international success stories, but [R.E.C] brought the growing popularity in zombie flicks to the “found footage” format with a truly terrifying account of a reporter stuck in a building with a vicious disease spreading through it.
An effective part of the film is the characters hatred of the reporter and her cameraman documenting the whole thing. To them, the situation is serious and doesn’t need exposure from the press, but the cameraman is our only way into what’s happening. The characters’ hatred of the audience makes the whole experience even more unnerving.
Paranormal Activity (2009) - 8/10
Oren Peli’s supernatural shocker caused a stir with its use of a home security camera to document the strange things happening in the house. The suspense and horror of what happens to the couple intensifies as the film goes on, until a truly chilling conclusion.
Overall, I think that Paranormal Activity just shades it in terms of its found footage, simply because its use as a film but-not-a-film was far more believable and realistic, two things which slightly let the other films down.
Do you agree with me?
Guest Blogger: James Duval is an IT Support Manager and regularly blogs for covert camera experts flyonthewall.uk.com.