I can’t believe that in 2015 I am finally making this list, but I am.
A few years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea. I hated found footage movies, but after so many of them being shoved in my face, I’ve actually grown to appreciate them. If done correctly, they can be good. Very good, in fact. However, that is the exception and not the rule. Too many of them employ the same beaten-to-death jump scare tricks and poor storylines just to pump out a quick, low-budget movie for a nice profit. I’ve waded through the mud for you lovely readers and have compiled a list of 10 of the best found footage films that have been made thus far. The films on this list go above and beyond most movies in this horror subgenre, with unique storylines, scares, and overall production. I really enjoyed these ones, and I hope you will too.
10. The Houses October Built (2014)[youtube id=”Yedl4lY9VgM” align=”right”]
This movie belongs on this list because of its original plot. I love the idea of a group of friends traveling around in search for haunted houses that go above and beyond your standard Halloween attractions. Evil clowns, psycho rednecks, and Haunted House freaks abound, this movie is filled with creepiness. Watch the trailer…I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
9. Trollhunter (2012) [youtube id=”uvwEyHeRSvE” align=”right”]
Trollhunter is a Norwegian film about a group of students who aim to find out what exactly is going on behind a bunch of bear killings. As the title suggests, there is more than just bears in this movie. There are Trolls. Awesome, stop-motion styled Trolls at that. If you don’t like movies with subtitles, then you may want to skip this one, but I implore you to reconsider and just get over it. Reading’s not that bad. You’re a big boy or girl. You can handle it.
8. Paranormal Activity (2009) [youtube id=”F_UxLEqd074″ align=”right”]
This is like every 7th grader’s first scary movie. “Oh, that wasn’t even scary! That was funny. And stupid too, actually. Huhuhuhhuh!” Nice try. Look, it’s not universally beloved, and I get why some people don’t like it, but I also think that some people just don’t understand it. It’s not supposed to have some deep moral impact. It’s supposed to have some good jump scares, allow you to have some fun, and be entertained a bit. Watching a movie from the Paranormal Activity franchise is like walking into a haunted house. It works the same way. And though I’ve already said that too many FF movies rely on jump scares and CGI, but this movie was a pioneer at the time. Most are copycats. So shove it.
7. Grave Encounters (2011) [youtube id=”g8FBRATbJoA” align=”right”]
Are you a fan of the show Ghost Adventures? If so, you’ll like this one. It’s like the main character is an exact replica of Zak Bagans, except slightly less of a jacked “bro.” Don’t get me wrong, I love Zak, but…he’s kind of an airhead. A loveable one, but an airhead at that. This movie follows the same formula as the show, but puts it on steroids and kills off a lot of people instead of having them find one tiny discrepancy on a soundwave. The spirits in this movie are dangerous, and it works. Word to the wise, however; please, for the love of everything Horror, please don’t waste your time with the sequel. It’s probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, without exaggeration. They should make posters that say: Grave Encounters 2: Not even once.
6. Frankenstein’s Army (2013) [youtube id=”dOF8GiIXtGY” align=”right”]
Now this is a found footage movie done right! This movie features some really awesome practical effects for the monsters in it, which is incredibly rare for anything in this subgenre. The hideous pieced-together “army” in this movie looks so, so good. Usually, you’d expect some CGI cop-out effects, but this movie decides to do things way better. Great movie. I really’ cannot recommend it enough. Plus, it’s been on Netflix for a while and I don’t think it’s going to be removed any time soon.
5. Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) [youtube id=”1tNrvDA_eE8″ align=”right”]
This is a genius movie, and one that is criminally underrated as well. I don’t know one person in my non-internet life that’s seen it, and that is a crying shame. It’s basically a mockumentary about the “business” of being a masked killer; they speak of other heavy-hitters of the industry, namedropping Michael and Jason. It’s really funny and really good. Technically, it’s not fully a found-footage movie, but that’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to watch it to find out why. Oh, and Robert Englund too!
4. The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) [youtube id=”JiODgrdAJvo” align=”right”]
Is there anyone who hasn’t seen this movie yet? It’s gotten an insane amount of attention, and rightfully so. This movie is insane. I have to take a moment to talk about the acting in this movie. It is great, which is a rare commodity in horror films. Even the good ones suffer from poor acting from time to time. Everyone in this particular film is very convincing in their roles, and the movie feels like a breath of fresh air. If you haven’t seen it, then see it now. If you’ve seen it before, see it again.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999) [youtube id=”pWiz6reVupA” align=”right”]
I’m going to be honest with you: personally, I had felt underwhelmed when I first saw this movie. However, I can’t deny its impact, and therefore, it will stay at #3 on this list. I like pretty much all of this film besides the ending, which I won’t spoil. It just doesn’t do it for me. Everything leading up to it was highly enjoyable for me. The tension between the film crew, the little clues here and there, the grainy VHS footage of a decaying forest…I love it. Do I think it’s one of the best? No, but once again, I understand that legions of fans will disagree with me. So I’m taking one for the team here. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
2. V/H/S (2012) [youtube id=”Z_vPmmZpV4I” align=”right”]
I can say with full conviction that, at least for me, this movie will go on to be a classic of the horror genre. I absolutely loved everything about it. The sequel was good, but it can’t compare to the first. All segments in this one were fantastic, especially the first one. That girl! Wow. It’s one of the only movies in recent memory that’s actually scared me so bad that I had trouble sleeping. I know I may get heat for putting this at a higher ranking than The Blair Witch, but I stand by my opinion. Lay off!
1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) [youtube id=”USSnC-1Oq2g” align=”right”]
Can you stomach this one? A gory masterpiece of exploitation cinema. The movie was so realistic at the time that the director was put on trial for obscenity and also possibly murdering some of the people that were featured in the film for real. Of course, he did not murder anyone, but he still had to prove how some of the effects were created in court for his case. Now if that is not a sign that your movie is convincing, I don’t know what is. Some call this movie trash; gory torture porn, and nothing more. Despite this, I don’t think there is a found footage movie that is more terrifying than this one.
There you go. The best of the best in a subgenre that is way too overcrowded with terrible movies. Thankfully, you have someone like me to save your precious time. Did I leave any of your favorites out? Do you think any of these movies don’t deserve to be on this list? Let me know in the comments!