Horror fans have been treated to a plethora of found footage over the last seventeen years (thanks again, Blair Witch), and while there have been more low points than I care to remember, there have certainly been more than a few highlights as well. Films such as The Last Exorcism, V/H/S 2, and The Taking of Deborah Logan are near-perfect entries into the tired subgenre, and they suggest that there are still scares to be found (Get it? Because it’s found footage). Sifting through an infinite amount of shaky cam can be a nauseating experience, however, so maybe you’re better off just giving up and watching old home videos if you want to see found footage. Or – and this is certainly the better option – you can allow us to guide you.
This list isn’t going to include popular found footage films that exist solely for cheap scares and lots of profit – you’ve likely seen those already anyway. This list (as you could probably tell from the title of the article) is going to focus on found footage films that might have flown under your radar. Let’s begin, shall we?
The Bay (2012)
The Bay is a found footage film directed by Barry Levinson (Academy Award winning director of Rain Man). The film follows a sea side town as a deadly plague is unleashed on the residents, turning humans into hosts for a mutant breed of parasite. Certainly not for the squirmish or the paranoid, The Bay will have you shifting uncomfortably and cancelling your beach trip.
Atrocious is a Spanish found footage film written and directed by Fernando Barreda Luna. The film follows a brother and sister during an Easter holiday at their family’s country house. The siblings have a web-show of paranormal investigations covering urban legends, and while at the country house, they decide to document while investigating the urban legend of a missing little girl. The film is incredibly suspenseful as it builds to a finale that will make your knuckles white.
The Houses October Built (2014)
This is the film that made me want to make this list. Co-written and directed by Bobby Roe (in his directorial debut), The Houses October Built follows a group of friends who take a road trip to several haunted house attractions in search of an extreme haunt – all the while documenting their experiences. I’m a grown man with a beard who is fairly close to seven feet tall, and I have to admit, this movie freaked me out a bit. If you haven’t checked it out on Netflix, do so now. You won’t regret it.
Creep is a found footage film co-written (along with Mark Duplass) and directed by Patrick Brice. Brice also stars as Aaron, an optimist videographer who comes to work for Josef (Duplass) after answering his ad on Craigslist. If the title and the trailer weren’t any indication, Josef turns out to be a bit of a creep. Darkly comic and unsettling, Creep rides an unnerving performance by Mark Duplass towards the top of the list of all-time great found footage films. While not particularly scary, this is a tense film that will linger in your mind long after the final frame.
The Sacrament (2013)
Let me tell you something about Ti West: he’s an amazing goddamn filmmaker. The House of the Devil is one of my all-time favorite horror films and it showcases West’s masterful ability to craft tension. That tension is still very much prevalent in The Sacrament. Borrowing heavily from the events of the Jonestown Massacre of 1978, The Sacrament was penned and directed by the aforementioned Ti West. The story follows an investigative team as they visit a remote commune known as “Eden Parish” – a utopian community founded by a religious leader. Upon arriving and meeting with several members of the commune, the team realizes that something is very wrong. Take a few deep breaths before watching this one. You might forget to breathe.
Search no more! Why go through an entire bottle of Dramamine just to find a decent found footage movie when you’ve got five great ones right here?! These films prove that the subgenre can still produce effective horror films from time to time. What say you? Have you checked these films out already? Are there any found footage films you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments!