There is a lot of found footage style horror movies that have been successful in putting the viewer into the horror film, starting from 1999's The Blair Witch Project, and getting a resurgence in 2007 with Paranormal Activity. But there is also a lot of found footage flicks that miss the mark too. To help you avoid those, and settle in for a good scare, I've put together a list of the best found footage horror films out there:
You will see the remake of the Spanish film [Rec] gracing many of my lists because it's just such a damn good movie! Quarantine follows a day in the life of a reporter who is covering a fire station when it is called out to an emergency in the apartment building. As they arrive in the apartment building, they are promptly shut in and killed if they try to leave due to a rapidly moving virus that turns the tennants into zombies.
The reason for Quarantine's perfection as a movie is in the found footage filming itself. It's well set up for professional filming - this is a trained news cameraman doing the filming - and the result is a smooth series of shots, but the movement of the cameraman with the reporter makes you feel like you are really within the action, and running around the apartment building as the intensity mounts. It's well made, and it's probably the best found footage horror movie since The Blair Witch.
Creep is legitimately creepy, and that's what makes this horror movie work - you don't know what the main protagonist is going to do, and everything he does is just a little bit weird, until all of the creepiness of the man himself intensifies.
Let me explain, A young videographer accepts a job to film the final messages of a dying man in a remote town. As he films the day in the life of the man, his behaviour starts to intensify and the videographer begins to question his motives in a way that only horror movie watchers do. Is this man simply a quirky, dying character - or is his motives much sinister? As the handheld footage captures his unravelling you begin to feel like there is a sense of unease permeating from the film, and that's what makes Creep a uniquely good found footage horror movie.
Area 51 is a found footage horror movie that isn't as widely popular as some of the other horror movies on the list, but it makes the cut based on the movement of the story and the sneaky look into secrets we are not privy to. The movie is about a group of friends who thrive on conspiracy theories who are deadset on discovering the secrets and mysteries that lie in Area 51 - the hidden and private location in the Nevada Desert that is said to be home to the government's most well kept secrets - namely, aliens.
The group somehow manage to venture into the secure compound and work their way to the bowels of the area, running from guards and sneaking into the basements in their attempt to discover the truth about aliens. The film is actually well done, and the final scenes of the big reveal is what makes the movie so good, as it completely lifts you into a new idea of life - plus, who doesn't actually want to know the secrets of Area 51? I know I do! This was just a really good way of showing us what it is.
The first Paranormal Activity catapulted the found footage horror movie sub-genre into popularity and is one of the most necessary horror movies that all lovers of the genre need to watch. Filmed as a series of cameras set up all over a modern downtown house, a young couple attempt to capture a ghost they believe to be haunting their house on camera. As strange and unusual occurrences take place, it becomes obvious that this ghost is a demonic entity that is out to capture their souls, and the horror intensifies through the sudden appearance of objects on the camera, such as hoofed footprints walking through baby powder on the stairs, and characters being dragged screaming throughout the house.
The filming is primarily done as static cameras set up in the house capturing the action, so the filming itself is smooth and slightly more unique than simply handheld recording devices (these do get spliced in of course) but the effects of the movie are so eerily slow and quiet that it makes the movie extremely well-written. In fact, it was so popular that it spun other six other horror movies of similar design, but nothing can beat the eeriness of the first film.
The Blair Witch Project and Blair Witch
It wouldn't be a list about the best found footage horror movies of all time without mentioning The Blair Witch Project, but while the 1999 version was the first of its kind and a cult classic, the reboot actually manages to make a smooth transition into good found footage horror movies as well.
The 1999 Blair Witch follows three film students as they venture into the woods to capture a local legend in the form of the Blair Witch. As they film their project they soon start to discover that the legends of the Blair Witch are actually true as they try to escape her supernatural forces. The Blair Witch Project was found footage ahead of its time, and one of the first successful horror movies in the genre, not just under the found footage genre, and it is beloved by many today.
But in 2012, in the age of reboots, Blair Witch was born. Following on as a sequel of sorts, Blair Witch centres around The Blair Witch Project's star Heather's brother James, as he decides to venture into the very same woods that claimed his sister to try and find out what happened to her, and allows his film student friend to film the experience. Due to the fact that this is a more modern produced movie, the filming for Blair Witch is obviously smoother than the original to the point where you start to forget you are watching a found footage horror movie at all. But it is one particular scene that makes the new Blair Witch a found footage horror to watch because as the story intensifies you are pulled into the depths of a narrow tunnel with the star as she gets stuck - the Blair Witch seemingly behind her. It's claustrophobic, terrifying, and lands the reboot on the best found footage horror list alone.
So what do you think - did I miss any found footage horror movies? Leave your favourite ones in the comment section below!