Saturday, October 13, 2018

Non-Paranormal Found Footage Movies

Found footage movies have enjoyed great popularity in the past 20 years since the release of The Blair Witch Project, here is a collection of found footage movies that don't involve the paranormal, the Devil or the supernatural.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Like the spaghetti westerns of the sixties, Italian cannibal films were the rage in the seventies. Like many of those westerns, these films had similar plots as well as the same tragic conclusions. A group of white explorers would enter the dense jungle of the Amazon rainforests and meet up with seemingly friendly cannibals who were only looking to have these guests as their next meal. With the many films made one wonders why no one noticed the very similar techniques and stories. We see women gang-raped, and men getting their testicles cut off or having their skulls opened up for a dessert of fresh brain. Everyone seemed to be a potential meal for each other. Cannibal Holocaust is considered by many to be the most graphically intense and brutal film ever made even when compared to its grotesque contemporaries. 

The Last Broadcast (1998)

A documentary filmmaker named David Leigh details the mysterious deaths of the hosts of cable access show titled Fact of Fiction. Steven Avkast and Locus Wheeler were amateur investigators who hosted a cable access show and running out of ideas turned into the urban legend of the Jersey Devil to invigorate their ratings and bring in new viewers. They plan to do a live broadcast on location in the Jersey Pine Barrons and stream it on the internet so the audience can witness their reactions and boost their popularity. A few days later Avkast and Wheeler are found dead, and the mystery of who was responsible may be on the video footage that was located by the police.

My Little Eye (2002)

Five adults agree to spend six months together in an isolated mansion with cameras capturing their every moment as part of a reality series. What motivates each contestant is a one million dollar prize yet as the sixth-month mark approaches tensions begin to develop between the group when a mysterious package arrives with a gun and the appearance of a stranger who claims he does not know anything about the contest. My Little Eye was inspired by the reality series Big Brother and plays out similarly yet the contestants are not aware of the sinister intent of the specific audience that is watching them.

The Last Horror Movie (2003)

A wedding video cameraman and his assistant use their video equipment to videotape murders they commit. They record their victims from start to finish and seem to focus on people who rent the very tape they are making as it is left in a video store. He then speaks to the viewer and questions their reasons for wanting to watch a movie like this. The Last Horror Movie certainly presents the audience with a thought-provoking question, if you knew you were watching a real tape with murder would you keep watching. 

Alone With Her (2006)

A tech-savvy stalker installs some cameras in the apartment of a woman he wishes to pursue. He then watches her so that he can approach her and use the information he observed to seduce her. Although the movie does employ a few techniques that make it less a found footage movie, Alone With Her does make the viewer feel unsettled by the having you the audience witness his creepy activities. Casting Colin Hanks would go against the usual style of having unknown actors to make the film seem more amateurish. In an age where we pretty much surrender our privacy Alone With Her is a terrifying reminder of just how far technology can enable stalkers to pursue their victims much easier.

Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) 

This pseudo crime documentary details the events surrounding a fictional serial killer who operated in the New York town of Poughkeepsie in the 1990's. It begins when police raid a house and find hundreds of videotapes inside, it is revealed that the tapes document untold numbers of abductions and murders committed by an unknown assailant all cataloged and numbered in order. The serial killer never allows himself to be seen unless he is disguised and in many of the tapes he tortures his victims physically, emotionally and psychologically. Police and crime experts appear in numerous interviews trying to profile the killer and look for patterns that could aid in his capture. The serial killer is given a name, but not much else is learned about him due to the random nature of the crimes that he appears to plan in a deliberate attempt to confuse authorities.

Cloverfield (2008)

A monster attack on New York City is seen through the shaky video camera of a group of friends who flee the city and face threats from the creature as it tears through the city. Matt Reeves directs this found footage film that made excellent use of viral marketing to play up the fear as we see the events unfold before seeing the creature entirely.

Home Movie (2008)

A series of home movies document the descent into darkness for the Poe family and what happened to them at the hands of their children. What starts as the perfect family in a remote upstate New York home takes a shocking turn as the children are shown to be hiding something from their parents. The children are deeply disturbed, and the further along the movie goes the audience witnesses the acts of cruelty and horrible events that leave the parents terrified and looking for help. Home Movie has a much more disturbing and realistic feel than most other found footage movies as this one seems so genuine and foreboding given the outcome of the family’s tragic fate. Easily one of the most disturbing films in recent years and one of the best made found footage films

Evil Things (2009)

A group of friends from New York City that went on a weekend trip disappeared with no evidence left to explain what happened. A video is found later that shows the group traveling to the house and noticing a van that is following them. After arriving at the remote home, they find a videotape that confirms someone is observing them and recording their activities. Evil Things is a low budget found footage movie that seems to borrow from some more famous films. 

The Bay (2012)

A leaked tape reveals an interview with a reporter speaking out on the coverup behind the events of a tragic July 4th in a Chesapeake Bay town that resulted in many deaths. A series of videos show the events from some people including some oceanographers, a young doctor and a reporter who is on what seems to be a puff piece story covering the holiday festivities. A deadly outbreak is shown throughout the day, and the cause may be related to the local water treatment plant and a mutant breed of parasites. The Bay is a compelling eco-horror film that employs found footage in an efficient manner that builds on the tension of the cast while creating a chilling atmosphere for the survivors. Director Barry Levinson made the movie to help bring attention to the issue facing the Chesapeake Bay, and they do so in a way that might show what a real eco-disaster might look like and how it may be played out.

Chronicle (2012)

A teenage student begins to video the events of his life to include his mother dying of cancer and his alcoholic father. At a party, he and a few friends go into the woods and find a mysterious object that makes their nosebleed as the camera cuts off. When the camera comes back, the three teens are shown with the power to move objects and the ability to fly. The powers begin to make one of the boys more hostile as the camera captures some of the darker moments as he lashes out more and potentially harming others. Chronicle is very different from most other found footage films and seems more like a superhero origin story with the boys learning how to use their powers and the dangers they pose. 

The Den (2013)

A young student working on her graduate degree decides to use a webcam to chat with strangers to see what kind of people she can meet. It gets worse when another stranger is shown killing the obsessed fan and now targeting her, her family and friends for reasons that are not clear to her. The Den is a found footage movie that shows some of the dangers of social media and the world of the dark web.

The Sacrament (2013)

The real-life tragedy of the Jonestown massacre would be the inspiration for the 2013 film by director Ti West. In that film, a man travels to find his sister and bring her home from the cult she has joined. The hospitable treatment will soon give way to far sinister things when he is unwilling to join their ranks.

Europa Report (2013)

This found footage movie details the events of a doomed mission to one of Jupiter’s moons. Despite losing contact with Earth and some incidents, the crew continues the mission only to find that something mysterious may be under the ice. Europa Report was released on video on demand to good reviews, the claustrophobic feel of a spaceship adds the tension significantly as the crew faces an unknown threat with no help from Earth. A great slow-burn thriller that has gained an audience in recent years. 

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