Oren Peli's The River premieres tonight on ABC, and advance buzz is that it's fantastic. The series is presented entirely as found footage as family members search a mysterious jungle for their lost father. The scares are said to be ample courtesy of the jungle creatures that terrorize the cast.

It's television's first major attempt to create a found footage series and should be interesting to see how they manage to maintain the conceit. Comparisons to Lost are already being drawn due to the location and general creepiness, though this seems as it will be purely popcorn entertainment, which I welcome. At least it won't leave us obsessing over mysteries that leave us wanting answers beyond "because we said so."

So in honor of The River, here's a list of found footage films that nail it. How will The River stack up?


Now in theaters, Chronicle is enjoying some really strong word of mouth. In fact, the reaction so far has been "OMG!!!1!!!!!!!!BESTFILMEVAR!1." Which is pretty high praise, I'd say. I haven't had the opportunity to see the dark superhero film yet myself, but maybe I'll cancel my weekend plans and check it out. Those needy orphans I feed on Saturdays will be so disappointed.

Paranormal Activity Series

Though it has collected its share of detractors, Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity films clean up at the box office for good reason. They're really, really creepy. The camera techniques introduced in each of the films crank up the scares of The Blair Witch Project by layering the suspense with inventive devices. In other words, it takes the house Blair Witch built and makes its walls bleed.

The Troll Hunter

The Troll Hunter's contribution to the world of found footage films is its subject matter. Filmed in a documentary style, three Norwegian film students stumble upon the government's secret eradication of giant trolls and the man hired to exterminate them. Previously, found footage films depended on tight quarters and spooky occurrences. The Troll Hunter takes a quieter approach to build the world of the trolls and their Hunter while interspersing the story with thrilling battles with the giant creatures.

Diary of the Dead

Zombie master George A. Romero gave the found footage genre a whirl with the largely dismissed Diary of the Dead. However, this entry in his series of Dead films was unfairly received. It's actually one of his slicker movies, and works in his social commentary pretty well without compromising his gory style.


This story of a virus taking over an apartment building keeps the viewer guessing throughout. No character is safe as those you'd expect to make it to the end credits meet abrupt demises. Before standing back up and going completely rabid on their surviving neighbors. You'll want to deadbolt your doors after watching.


Like Chronicle, Cloverfield was another winter found footage release that cleaned up at the box office. However, the Godzilla-esque monster movie suffered after its first week due to negative word of mouth. Which is insane, because it's a great movie. Audiences found fault with the shaky camera work and lack of a typical Hollywood ending. Pretty harsh to bash something for switching up the same tired formula. That's why you guys have all of those Vin Diesel movies.

The Blair Witch Project

Though not the first to use the style, it's definitely the film that brought found footage to the mainstream. That's not to say it's not original or well done. Filmmakers cast their lead actors and then sent them out into the woods with cameras. No script. They literally left people in tents and then fucked with them at night. The result was a pretty organic and frightening ride-alone.

Project X

The first comedic film to try and capitalize off the smaller budget filming technique, Project X documents the ultimate high school party. There's a moon bounce, a dog in the moon bounce, the hottest girls, and flamethrowers. When was the last time you were at a party with a flamethrower? And riots don't count.

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