Found footage is a cinematic method that makes a movie appear as though it were a true, first-person account of events, frequently recorded by the participants using basic video equipment. This can increase the reality, which makes it particularly effective for horror films. Although found footage has been used in literature for centuries, The Connection, directed by Shirley Clarke, is usually regarded as the first found footage film.
The technique was further explored in the Italian horror film Cannibal Holocaust, which was followed by Man Bites Dog and Peter Jackson’s Lost Silver. These films paved the way for found footage’s significant popular success in the twenty-first century. Four of the highest-grossing discovered footage movies ever were released in 2012, making it a very significant year.
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By fusing the real footage format with the superhero genre, Chronicle upended the status quo. Three high school buddies, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), who find a mysterious device in a cave end up developing telekinetic abilities. Yet, as their powers get stronger, their relationships are put to the test, and the repercussions of their acts are worse.
Chronicle explores the dark side of power and the effects of playing god in its distinctive found footage technique. The young cast performs admirably, especially DeHaan as the damaged and erratic Andrew. For those who enjoy science fiction shows like Heroes and Attack the Block, Chronicle is a must-watch.
The sci-fi horror film Cloverfield was made by J.J. Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves. It follows a group of friends as they navigate the streets of New York City during a monster attack. The group is led by Rob (Michael Stahl-David). The companions’ difficulties and relationships must be addressed as they try to survive.
A significant advancement for films using recovered footage was made with Cloverfield. It broke new ground within the format’s limitations and demonstrated that low-budget creature pictures could rival Godzilla in terms of quality. With a third now in development, it inspired the spiritual sequels 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox.
‘Into the Storm’ (2014)
In the disaster film Into the Storm, Pete (Matt Walsh) leads a team of storm chasers who are investigating a large tornado outbreak in the little town of Silverton. A group of high school students, led by Donnie (Max Deacon) and his brother Trey (Nathan Kress), become caught in the storm as it worsens. The team has to endure the weather to save the survivors with the help of the town’s meteorologist, Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies).
It’s an exhilarating trip with stunning visual effects and gripping action scenes. It’s a decent twist on discovered footage clichés, but the script and some of the performances might be better.
‘Paranormal Activity’ (2007)
The original Paranormal Activity was a breath of fresh air and a big breakthrough for found footage movies, despite the sequels repeatedly recycling the same old concepts. Although Paramount Pictures would later spend $200,000 on a new ending, it is a lean, nasty horror film that was shot on an astonishingly low original budget of just $15.000.
The movie became one of the most successful and financially successful movies ever, and for good reason. The dialogue is all spontaneous, which adds to the feeling of authenticity, and the entire production was shot on a personal video camera by director Oren Peli. The Last Exorcism, The Devil Inside, and V/H/S were all made possible as a result of the revival of the found footage trend in the horror genre.
‘Paranormal Activity 2’ (2010)
The main elements of the first book’s plot are repeated in the second book of the series. The family investigates as the mysterious occurrences worsen and learns a sinister truth that puts their life in danger. Sprague Grayden plays Katie Featherston’s sister Kristi, and Katie Featherston reprises her part from the first movie.
Fans of the previous film will be happy with Paranormal Activity 2, but it doesn’t bring anything particularly fresh. The best aspect of the film is how it delves more into the unsettling mythology that was first presented. In their roles as the two sisters thrust into a terrible paranormal situation, Featherston and Grayden also offer nuance and realism to their performances.
‘Paranormal Activity 3’ (2011)
The third episode of the series serves as a prequel to the first two. It chronicles the encounter that Katie (Chloe Csengery) and Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) had with an evil spirit during their childhood. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who had a $5 budget at their disposal—a significant improvement from the franchise’s beginnings—directed it.
The film largely follows the tried-and-true template of its predecessors, but it contains some good scares. With a $26 million opening day, it broke the previous record for the biggest opening day for a horror film in the US.
‘Paranormal Activity 4’ (2012)
The fourth installment of the popular series follows the Nelsons, a new family, as they encounter unusual happenings in their suburban house. Alex, the adolescent daughter of the Nelson family, is portrayed by Kathryn Newton. Alex uses her laptop and webcams to record the events that are taking place around her. When the paranormal activity grows more intense, Alex seeks assistance from her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) and their friend Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp).
By the fourth time, the premise has lost its novelty, but the film is still saved by the strong performances, especially Newton’s. Jump scares abound as well, which are likely to frighten even the most seasoned horror veterans.
‘Project X’ (2012)
Project X, arguably the most famous party film of the decade, centres on three high school pals, Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper), and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), who plan a wild party to impress their peers. The boys fight to control the chaos as the party swiftly gets out of hand and becomes viral on social media.
Moreover, Miles Teller, Alexis Knapp, and Kirby Bliss Blanton all deliver respectable supporting roles (as himself). Project X captures the spirit of adolescent rebellion with its humorous antics and extravagant party scenes. The film’s target teenage audience loved it, despite the fact that adults might find it all a touch over the top.
‘The Blair Witch Project’ (1999)
The biggest box office draw and most significant found-footage horror film is The Blair Witch Project. Three film students, Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard, are the story’s central characters. They go into the woods to produce a documentary on the fabled ghost who is rumoured to haunt the area. They get disoriented as they travel further into the jungle and are scared by an ominous force more and more.
The earlier horror film Cannibal Holocaust serves as a reference point for directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, who enhance it in every aspect. They only use shaky camera work, ambient lighting, and improvised language to create a scary environment. Blair Witch focuses on what we don’t see at a time when other horror films were relying on flashy visual effects for their appeal. The most terrifying moments are noises coming from invisible sources, a shadow across the screen, or the eerie setting itself. The murky, subpar visuals serve to emphasise all of this. It turned out to be a powerful combination, inspiring pretty much every found footage horror movie since.
‘The Devil Inside’ (2012)
Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), the protagonist of this William Brent Bell-directed horror film, travels to Italy to look into her mother’s possible involvement in a string of failed exorcisms. They go to a mental hospital to meet Isabella’s mother along with a documentary filmmaker (Ionut Grama) (Suzan Crowley).
As they observe Maria being possessed, things take a sinister turn, and they seek assistance from two rogue exorcists named Ben and David, played by Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth. The premise of The Devil Inside isn’t the most inventive, but it does provide spine-tingling suspense and a sinister atmosphere.
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