AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST
1. Cloverfield (2008)
No found footage film or film in general has had me so mystified and intrigued as “Cloverfield.” The marketing was pure genius and really set this film apart from many. Set during a span of one night, a group of New Yorkers throws a going away party for their friend Rob when a large explosion in the New York Harbor interrupts everything. Rob and his group of friends venture into the streets of New York as they try to rescue their friend while a rampaging monster destroys the city around them. The overall look and first-person camera view of the film may be jarring to many, but its execution is pure perfection. The acting is well done and very believable, and the rampaging monster is left shrouded in mystery throughout the film. I love the fact that this film drops you into this crazy situation with a group of friends and doesn’t give you really any notion of where this monster came from or what it truly is. It makes the film that much more believable ,and it really is one of the best found footage films and one of my favorite films overall. Director Matt Reeves and Producer JJ Abrams created a unique and one-of-a-kind thrill ride that everyone needs to experience and research online after their first viewing to truly get the full experience.
2. Chronicle (2012)
Director Josh Trank came onto the scene in fantastic fashion with this unique twist on the superhero and found footage genre. The film’s plot surrounds three high school friends who happen to adventure away from a party they’re at and stumble upon a mysterious alien substance which causes them all to collapse. After each of them wakes up, they suddenly begin to realize they’ve been given extraordinary powers, and one of the friends named Andrew films all of their crazy discoveries while using and as they deal with their newfound extraordinary gifts. What makes this movie so unique is that it’s both an entertaining and very personal story of family and friendship while also utilizing the found footage style expertly. Andrew’s background and abuse with his father is exemplified and it really expands the dramatic aspect of the film and the conflict within him which develops the plot as the film progresses. His two other friends Matt and Steve share a special bond through these powers, and I loved to see them interact together in both serious and hilarious experimental periods with their powers. This film creates one of the most memorable found footage and superhero genre twists that shouldn’t be missed!
3. REC (2007)
Foreign horror films hold some hidden gems, and “REC” is definitely one of the best I have ever seen. This Spanish film follows a television news reporter and cameraman who follow a group of emergency workers into a dingy apartment building in order to assist the residents inside. Things quickly go south, and the residents, reporter, cameraman and emergency workers are all quarantined inside with something truly terrifying happening around them. The claustrophobic, intense, and downright terrifying nature of this film is relentless. The dire situation these characters are put in really sucks you into the film and doesn’t let go. Again, this film does a fantastic job of creating a believable found footage style with great acting and camerawork. This film is a short and sweet treat that adds a great amount of depth to the found footage horror mixture, while containing both a great amount of humanity and intensity in every single scene.
4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
It’s impossible to have a found footage favorites list without “The Blair Witch Project.” The film tells the story through a found footage video of three film students (Heather, Joshua and Leonard) who travel to a small town in order to discover more about a local murder legend, the Blair Witch. As they travel deeper into the woods to seek out the Blair Witch, the three students lose their way and become trapped. As day turns to night, they begin to hear horrific noises all around them and struggle to keep it together so they can make it out alive. This film is considered by many to be the originator of the found footage genre. At the time of its release, many filmgoers had never experienced anything quite like it and many of them questioned whether or not it was actual footage of these three people that had been found. In today’s time we know that this isn’t true, but it still doesn’t take away from the creepy and disturbing nature of this film. It exemplifies the notion of “less is more” and really attacks your senses through noise and darkness. Without “The Blair Witch Project,” the found footage genre may have never come to fruition.