13. Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
© Dick Clark Productions
This ahead-of-its-time made-for-TV movie comprised of home video of a family's Thanksgiving ruined by invading aliens is easily one of the best things UPN ever aired. Unfortunately, it's impact is hurt when we finally get to see the less-than-scary aliens.
12. Entity (2013)
© Brainstorm Media
An atmospheric ghost story, told partly in found footage format, about a film crew for a paranormal investigation TV show that visits a mysterious haunted facility in Russia that holds a dark secret.
11. Exhibit A (2010)
This woefully overlooked but well-acted, frighteningly realistic British
feature takes the form of a video tape found in camcorder at murder scene, revealing the secrets of a seemingly normal middle class family that implodes over the course of a few short weeks.
With its similar "documentarians in the woods" setup, there's some speculation that The Blair Witch Project
was influenced by The Last Broadcast
, but while I don't think so, that doesn't take away from the effectiveness of the fascinating mystery in this early found footage fare about cable access hosts searching for the Jersey Devil. Although it's largely told in a documentary format rather than strict found footage, I included it here because the documentary revolves around the deconstruction of "found footage."
© Magnolia Pictures
Hailing from Norway, The Troll Hunter
is a fascinating adaptation of traditional Scandinavian folklore into the modern format of the "found footage" phenomenon, although viewers expecting scares might be disappointed by the PG-13 fantasy approach.
8. The Conspiracy (2013)
© XLrator Media
Not quite as realistic as some found footage films, but this found footage/faux documentary thriller about journalists delving into the truth behind conspiracy theories is intelligent, well-written and builds paranoid tension nicely up to the gripping climax.
A grotesque offspring of the exploitive
(and often partially faked) "mondo" documentaries of the '60s and '70s, this fictional film similarly exploits the rituals of indigenous "savages" in exotic locations (in this case, the Amazon), topping it off with numerous sexual assaults and real-life animal killings, making it one of the most controversial films of all time. Reprehensible and ugly yet unforgettable and groundbreaking in its use of hyper-realistic footage shot by documentary filmmakers who went missing in the Amazonian jungles. It's so realistic, in fact, director Ruggero Deodato was actually charged with murder and had to prove that the deaths in the film -- well, the human deaths -- were actually fake.
© IFC Films
Insightful and darkly humorous, this killer kid flick
skewers the traditional nuclear American family, overzealous religion and the overprescribing of medications.
The Last Exorcism
takes found footage into exorcism territory with a steady dose of thrills, chills and a surprisingly wry sense of humor. If only the awful sequel
did the same.
4. REC 1-2 / Quarantine (2007-2009)
Although it didn't hit the US until 2009, Spain's REC
pre-dated the release of the game-changing Paranormal Activity
, making its exhilarating zombie-esque tale all the more impressive. Less original but almost as entertaining is the American remake Quarantine