I’m not sure “found footage” is the right name for this list. After all, horror novels don’t have “footage,” but they can include documents, testimony, and photographs to try to fool you into thinking the novel is something real.
Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano is the diary of a girl who has just moved into a new house. Strange events begin to happen… and she records them all in her blog, which starts to glitch as the paranormal activity worsens. “M. Verano” makes an appearance in the story as a paranormal investigator. Who is the real author? Only the publisher knows…
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson – now, this book states right on the cover that this was a true story. However, the lawsuits and conflicting testimonies call this into question. The sequels are definitely fictional.
John Dies at the End by David Wong is so ridiculous, you know it can’t be true. But the author is one of the main characters. Even though he tells you directly his name is fake. While this is more of a horror comedy, it does have some creepy moments.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) is one of the best known “found footage” movies. The concept at the time was so rare that I remember being totally taken in – I had watched a “documentary” on TV about the Blair Witch, which also turned out to be totally fake. The actors play themselves and in the film’s promos were listed as missing.
All of this was new to me at the time, but that was before I saw…
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) shows the footage found of a team of documentary makers who went missing in search of a cannibal tribe. Studio execs are clamoring to air the footage, but after they see the tape, they change their minds.
This Italian film is not wholly found footage, but it was banned as a “snuff film” in over 50 countries both for graphic sexual violence and because animals were killed onscreen (like, multiple animals. Definitely wasn’t a “no animals were harmed” disclaimed on this one). The three actors who played the missing documentary crew had signed a contract not to appear in any media for a year after the filming, and the director was actually charged with their murders as well.
[REC] (2007) is a Spanish horror movie about a reporter reporting on an incident happening in an apartment building. As the situation worsens, the reporter takes her shot and enters the building to get the story. This movie was remade in English as “Quarantine.” This is one of those rare cases where I think both versions are excellent – if you can stomach the shaky cam.
I know a lot of people can’t deal with shaky cam, but there are a lot of good found footage horror movies out there! A few of my recent favorites are the “Paranormal Activity” movies and “The Poughkeepsie Tapes.”
What’s your take – love ’em or hate ’em?