Have Found Footage Movies Harmed the Horror Genre?


What’s one thing that made The Blair Witch Project so scary? The fact that it was shot as a Found Footage film with minimal budget. Through that, the film’s creators were able to make the most out of little, leaving the audience to use their imaginations to fear the worst. The producers didn’t have to worry about coming up with some sort of spooky ghoul that would terrify some but not all. Instead, they opted to go the route of “the less you know, the greater the terror.”

Same thing went for Paranormal Activity 10 years later. Found Footage film, minimalist approach, just the right about of thumps and creaks to set the audience on edge. The first in a series of films, Paranormal Activity has become iconic in this generation of horror films. But, in the years that have followed, there have been several more films that have tried to capture that same black magic used by Oren Peli and the first Paranormal Activity movie, but to no avail. Through those failed films, has the era of Found Footage come to an end?

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Honestly, I hope not.

Call me a sucker for what has become a mainstream plot device, but I still love Found Footage films. I love how the film’s creators are able to use so little to scare the audience. I love that they go off of the audience’s fear of the unknown to add to that atmosphere of dread. I love that there isn’t some totem that’s supposed to be the embodiment of what we’re supposed to be scared of.

For example, the first Insidious film did everything right in the first half  despite not being a Found Footage movie. But when they introduced the demon in the latter half of the film, all credibility went out the window. Don’t build up a film and fill me with dread only to show me some big red meanie that looks like Kane from the WWF years. Keep on with the snippets of ghosts here and there, but leave me in absolute fear of whoever the head honcho may be.

Some Found Footage films have gone this route and have tanked more often than not, like this year’s release of The Gallows. It was a good plot, granted. There’s something about a less gory approach that makes a horror film more appealing. But it seems like in a Found Footage film full of teens, it seems like more focus is placed on the whining lead characters. This doesn’t give the film any credibility.

Amber Alert is also another film that’s disturbing in content as a Found Footage film. Although it isn’t supernatural, it is nonetheless a sharp thriller that relies on the “less-is-more” mantra. The viewer can’t help but absolutely fear for the young victim that the lead characters are trying to save, and the imagination wanders as the viewer is left fearing the worst for the little girl. But, to the film’s discredit, too much time is spent on the bickering between the two leads.

Ultimately, the Found Footage sub-genre of horror isn’t dead yet. There are plenty of good films that use this approach, and there are bound to be more. It’s a genre that can still be refined, and it’s doubtful that it is actually hurting the horror genre.

Weigh in below on whether or not Found Footage is hurting the horror genre.

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