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I Watched Found Footage Films So You Don’t Have To

When it comes to horror movies, there’s something particularly terrifying about the subgenre of “found footage” films. The factors of first-person points of view and the gritty details from an amateur camera add to the element of realness that makes the movie that much more scary. Films like “The Blair Witch Project” and the well-known “Paranormal Activity” series are incredible examples of found footage films.

However, once you watch those, where are you supposed to go next? Fortunately, I spent my holiday break making it my mission to find the best found footage films that other horror fanatics should definitely put on their must-watch lists, and even those that they should avoid. Also, note that this article may contain small spoilers.

Found Footage (2017)

So I think it would be best to start from the least enjoyable to the most. I found this film when I first started my basic search, and from the summary, it seemed really interesting. The movie is about an Australian man who stalks his friend with whom he has a weird obsession, and his pent-up rage leads to him killing other women.

Now, while the summary makes it seem like an intriguing true-crime horror film, I honestly would give it a 2 out of 10. It might be interesting if you’re new to scary movies and want something to ease you in, but this just didn’t entertain me. As someone who is also obsessed with true crime, the serial killer factor was poorly done and impractical. There were no jump scares, which, personally, I believe every good horror film should have. If anything, Found Footage was about as scary as an episode of Criminal Minds. If you’re still curious, the movie is on Amazon Prime to watch.

Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Movie (2015)

This might be a tricky review because it could be seen from two different audiences: those who have watched the YouTube series “Marble Hornets" and those who have not. This movie is about a young news team that discovers a set of tapes from a disturbed family. After watching the tapes, the crew realizes they are being terrorized by the same entity that possibly led to the disappearance of the family in the tapes.

For those who have not watched the YouTube series, the movie might be a little scary, but not enough to lose sleep over it. For those who did watch the “Marble Hornet” series, it really is a slap in the face to the original production. The only thing that relates to the original storyline is the circle with the X, the static tapes, and of course, Slenderman. All of these things can be found in literally anything featuring Slenderman, whether it be a game or some other movie.

As a member of the audience who did watch the YouTube series, I would give Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Movie a 5 out of 10, just because I do enjoy the little amount of Slenderman entertainment that is out there. But, the plot of this movie was so dry that I had to actually get water to be able to finish it. However, if you feel compelled to check it out, grab a two-liter of your favorite soda and watch it on Amazon Prime.

As Above So Below (2014)

I watched this movie in between packing to return to campus, so I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I found it! As Above So Below is about an archaeologist and her roughly-put-together team going into the infamous catacombs under Paris, France in search of Nicolas Flamel’s philosopher’s stone. I genuinely enjoyed this movie but less as a horror fanatic and more as someone who enjoys mythology, which is described in detail by the main characters. Think of National Treasure but a bit darker. The only thing that made this a horror film to me was the amount of gore and death. However, it’s easily predictable and lacks any jump scares. In the end, I would give it a 7 out of 10 just because the storyline and the set up was actually really good. The movie is over on Netflix!

Cloverfield (2008)

This movie is actually really great for those who love apocalyptic films. This movie features a group of friends in New York trying to survive after a creature the size of the buildings around them descends on the city. Personally speaking, I’m not one for apocalyptic movies, but this had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The setup and backstory were well executed, and everything was so realistic that I genuinely believed that there was a creature destroying New York City. Side note, why is it always New York City, Los Angeles, or another major city that is at the center of the apocalypse? Anyway, this movie is phenomenal to watch by yourself or with friends due to the jump scares and plot twists. Would definitely give it a 9 out of 10, so go check it out on Hulu!

Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

I’m not sure if this is really classified as “found footage,” but this movie actually terrified me, wow! Whenever a horror movie ends, a lot of us tend to be scared until we realize that all of it is fake. There’s no Slenderman, no monster roaming New York City, and ghosts are arguable, but that’s another article. The thing that makes Unfriended: Dark Web so bone-chilling is that it plays off the dark reality that most of us are terrified to think about.

The movie is a sequel to the 2014 movie Unfriended, which, by the way, is another good watch, and it involves the main character who takes a computer from his work’s lost and found. During a virtual game night with his friends, he begins to investigate the files on the device and comes to find disturbing videos and a message saying that if he or his friends call 911, they’ll all die. The realness of this movie is terrifying, but what’s scarier is the implied notion that there are people on the dark web who play games that involve harming people, and can spy on your life through your camera. I literally put tape over my laptop camera during the movie, which I, unfortunately, had to remove due to Zoom classes. This movie will get in your head and make you scared of your own technology.

This deserves its rating of 10 out of 10 just because I rarely get scared. Plus, it was so fun to watch the reactions of my friends when I forced them to watch it! The movie is featured on Hulu, but only through a Hulu premium subscription.

There are obviously more found footage films out there, however, during my break, when I should have listened to my mother and cleaned my room, I narrowed down my list to the five that stood out to me that were also worth writing a whole article about. Unfortunately, I’m also limited to what streaming service I have because, as a college student myself, I would rather spend my money on cheap pizza than a movie I can only watch once. It also should be said that these are my own opinions and everyone’s movie taste is different! It was truly a fun project to work on, and hopefully, I’ll be able to give more movie reviews in the future!

Erin Cody

C of C '23

Hey y’all! My name is Erin Cody and I’m a criminal psychology major from College of Charleston! A few things about me is that I’m a huge true crime fan, I love a good ghost story or conspiracy theory, and I’m doing my best to make Elle Woods proud!
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