In recent years the found footage genre has seen a revival. The low budget, which seems to characterize the genre along with the hope to make the next ‘Paranormal Activity’ or ‘Blair Witch’ attracts many filmmakers and this has resulted in a big wave of found footage films over the last 10 years. Unfortunately the good and original films have been few while the ghost story knock offs has been many. We have taken a look at the history of the found footage genre and managed to dig up a couple of interesting variations on it.
The first found footage film is said to be ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ from 1980. The film was an exploitation film, but made with the esthetics of a documentary. It quickly got known for it’s on screen killing of animals and the very realistic killing of many of the cast members. So realistic in fact, that director Ruggero Deodato was arrested charged with the murders of the film’s cast members (who of course were still alive).
The film managed to stand out from other exploitation films of the period by using the found footage genre and giving a more realistic aspect to an otherwise over the top genre.
After ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ the found footage genre was put to rest for many years until ‘The Blair Witch Project’ came out in 1999. The film was sold as a true story and just as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ it managed to convince many that the story was in fact true. Since that time we have seen many successful found footage films, most noticeably ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘REC’, ‘Cloverfield’ and the Australian indie sensation ‘The Tunnel’ (which we are still trying to acquire). Common for almost all of the new wave found footage films is the presence of ghosts and/or monsters.
At Indiemondo we have nothing against either ghosts or monsters, but we felt it would be very interesting to find some overlooked films that has taken another approach to the found footage genre.
This British film from 2007 is about a suburban family man’s demise as seen through the lens of his teenage daughters video camera. The film is a family drama that tackles subjects as varied as the coming of age and sexuality of a teenage girl to consumer culture of today. The found footage style helps this film stand out among other family dramas of today, just as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ managed to stand out almost 30 years prior.
But the found footage style did not make filming easier as director Dom Rotheroe said in an interview with Take One:
“It was incredibly difficult to make found footage work in this film as we’d also taken on the conceit that it was all edited in camera, and hadn’t been found and edited as, say, in Blair Witch. The conceit was of an uncut found tape and that proved very hard in the editing and shooting when we were faced with having to cut down long single-shot scenes and make it seem like the person turning off the camera had a reason to do so. At the beginning we felt it might be the easiest of edits; by the end it was by far the hardest.”
Many found footage films are made to look like true events but very few were actually inspired by true events. ‘Zero Day’ was very much inspired by the shooting at Columbine High School and tells the story from the shooter’s point of view. In the film we follow the two young men’s planning of a high school shooting in the form of a video diary. The film takes the very difficult approach to show that even people who are seen as the epiphany of evil are in fact still human beings.
For more on the history of the found footage genre:
Full interview with Dom Rotheroe at Take One:
The timely story of a normal family disintegrating under financial pressure, eventually driven to the unimaginable. We witness the terrifying events unfold through daughter Judith’s video camera, which subsequently becomes Exhibit A.
Two teenage friends spend a year planning a nightmarish assault on their school. This film is their video diary leading up to the event.