The Best Found Footage Horror Films
This month on Lunatics Radio Hour we are celebrating all things found footage. Found footage films tell a story using discovered video or audio recordings. There are so many wonderful examples of this sub-genre and I love the creativity of the mechanics involved. Found footage lends itself so well to the horror genre. Shaky cameras add a sense of unease, and it's ripe for showing glimpses of creatures and aliens. Here are our favorite found footage horror movies.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is one of the most iconic and successful found footage horror films of all time. And it’s one of my personal favorites. This film haunted me as a child. Famously, it shows very little but the tension and fear it builds is incredible. At the time of its release, the filmmakers used the internet (novel at the time) and guerilla marketing tactics to drum up excitement and intrigue. For anyone unaware, The Blair Witch Project follows three young adults as they enter the deep woods and make a documentary about the legend of the local witch.
The Visit (2015)
The Visit from M. Night Shyamalan is one of the scariest horror films I’ve ever seen. But I do recognize that this is specific to me. Regardless, this film is very fun and really well made. As expected, it has a classic M. Night Shyamalan twist. It follows two young children who go to meet their grandparents for the first time and decide to make a “documentary” about their experience,
Chronicle leans a bit closer to the thriller/action genre than horror, but it does have horrifying moments. This film stands out for many reasons, one of which is the playfulness of how this footage is being recorded. Chronicle is funny, heartbreaking and at times incredibly satisfying. It has a teen-movie vibe and one of the most unique films on this list.
Creep (2014) and Creep 2 (2017)
Creep and its sequel are insanely good. Starring Mark Duplass, much of the original is improvised by the actors and filmmakers. It’s funny, scary and wildly entertaining. And a rare case where the sequel is just as good as the original. After responding to an online ad, our protagonist makes a bold choice to visit a stranger and help him make a video.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
A classic! Paranormal Activity was a sensation in 2007 for a reason. Its scares are successful and totally hold up even after more than a decade. I can’t vouch for all of the sequels, but I imagine some of them are entertaining and terrifying. But I whole-heartedly stand behind the original which brings audiences along as a couple deal with strange hauntings that start to plague their modern condo.
Some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen in a found footage film. Trollhunter follows a group of Norwegian students through the countryside as they follow a trollhunter through the wild. This film features some stellar Norwegian talent and mind-blowing visuals.
Another mid-aughts classic. Cloverfield stars Lizzy Caplan and T.J. Miller. Definitely within the Sci-Fi genre, Cloverfield uses found footage to bring audiences along as a creature attacks New York City.
Not only is VHS found footage but it’s also an anthology film. The movie rotates around a rare VHS tape that four robbers are hired to steal. It was shot by Ti West and has a modest budget. It’s gone on to be a cult classic.
The 2000s were a big decade for found footage, and Rec is a core film from that era. Similar to V/H/S, it’s become a cult classic. Rec tells the story of a news anchor and her camera man as they cover a fire in an apartment building. That is until police seal it off because of a human infecting virus.
As Above, So Below (2014)
This film tells the story of an archaeologist who is convinced the famous Philosopher’s Stone is hidden beneath the city of Paris in the catacombs. As she searches, along with her crew, they discover there is more than just an artifact waiting beneath the city.
The Incantation (2022)
The most recent found footage film on the list, The Incantation is a Taiwanese horror film that tells the story of Li Ronan and a curse she must bear.