Screen Junkies » found footage Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:41:26 +0000 en hourly 1 The Screen Junkies Top Six: Creepiest Found Footage Movies Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:53:01 +0000 Jared Jones As poorly acted, edited, and directed as these Blair Witch copycats often are, found footage horror is uncommonly effective at scaring the hell out of us.

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By Jared Jones

Can I share a secret with you guys real quick? I love found footage movies. As poorly acted, edited, and directed (if you can call it that) as these dime-a-dozen, Blair Witch copycats often are, found footage-style horror is uncommonly effective at making me — a big, strong tough guy who ain’t afraid of nuttin’ — leave the room mid-scene to answer an imaginary phone call, and I respect them for it. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that found footage movies are just about the creepiest movies out there, pound-for-pound (exception: anything from Japan).

Hollyweird (nailed it) apparently shares this sentiment, as found footage movies are quickly usurping zombie movies as the most played out form of horror film in today’s moviegoing market. This weekend, As Above/So Below will attempt to cash in on the trend by asking, “But what if we set the story in the catacombs below Paris?”, and just a few days ago, a trailer was released for The Pyramid, an upcoming found footage flick that is already being heralded as “As Above/So Below meets Indiana Jones meets your family vacation to Wekiwa Springs in ’89.”

The found footage trend is going nowhere, so while we’re here, we might as well pay tribute to the finest offerings to come out of the genre. But being that you’ve all either heard of or seen the Blair Witch Projects and Paranormal Activitys by now, we’re going to focus on the lesser-known creepfests for this week’s Screen Junkies Top Six. Let’s get started.

The Tunnel 

(Yup, the full movie is available on Youtube, and we’re including it in this article. Deal. With. It.)

Essentially the As Above/So Below before As Above/So Below, this 2011 Australian horror flick swaps the catacombs of Paris for the train tunnels of Sydney and sees cute-as-a-button journalist Natasha (Bel Deliá) and her crew attempt to expose a government cover-up involving missing homeless people and underground, humanoid things. Featuring more night vision than the Paris Hilton sextape (ah thank you), The Tunnel is as terrifying as it is morbidly arousing. So right in my wheelhouse, basically.

Home Movie 

Adrian Pasdar and Cady McClain star as David and Claire Poe, a priest and a psychologist stuck raising two kids literally sent from Hell. If there was ever a concept that screamed “make me into a sitcom or maybe a horror movie but definitely a sitcom,” it was this one.

As luck would have it, however, Home Movie is actually a pretty well-crafted entry into the found footage genre that just narrowly avoids most of its pratfalls. The setup is simple: Two whitebread parents who have a compulsive need to film every basic interaction with their shithead children slowly start to realize that their children are shitheads. Brooding, sociopathic shitheads. Dead pets start popping up around the house, other people’s kids get bitten, and before you know it, little Jack and Emily Poe are secretly plotting to take out their folks so they can continue their lives of cannibalism and probably incest. This is why normal families don’t film any of their interactions and generally avoid eye contact for most of their lives.

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but Home Movie is basically the culmination of every nightmare I’ve ever had, and the main reason I opted to get a vasectomy on my 18th birthday. I…I had a messed up childhood, you guys.

Cannibal Holocaust 

I know I said I wouldn’t dip into the well-worn classics of the genre, but for me to lead a discussion about found footage filmmaking that doesn’t at least mention Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 exploitation flick would be like talking about my most cherished sexual experiences without mentioning my friend Kyle’s mom. And quite frankly, that’s not a discussion I’m about to have.

Not unlike sex with my friend Kyle’s mom, watching Cannibal Holocaust is a gritty, dirty experience that usually begins under sketchy circumstances and ends in genital mutilation. (There I go, discussing my childhood again.) If you can credit the movie with one thing, however, it’s commitment (from the film’s Wiki):

Deodato had all the actors sign contracts ensuring that “they would not appear in any type of media, motion pictures, or commercials for one year after the film’s release” in order to promote the idea that the film was truly the recovered footage of missing documentarians.

It’s a pretty great idea from a marketing standpoint, and one that only backfired when Deodato was arrested and charged with everything from obscenity to murder following the film’s premiere in Milan.

You see, the special effects in Cannibal Holocaust were so realistic that people actually began to believe the actors had been killed while filming it. While that would have undoubtedly proven this film’s commitment to the premise I was talking about earlier, it turned out not to be the case. Deodato brought his crew out of hiding and the charges were eventually dropped, although several countries (including Italy and Australia) went and slapped the ban hammer on the film anyway for its all too real depiction of violence toward animals, among other things.

But all the controversy aside, is Cannibal Holocaust any good? Nah, not really.


Easily the most well-received movie on the list, the 2007 Spanish thriller [Rec] was such an effective exercise in handheld terror that Hollywood felt the need to remake the movie the following year under the title Quarantine. Because even in a movie where 90% of the dialogue is screams of terror, subtitlz r 2 hard for ow powah wittle eyes. Way to go, America.


It’s not often that the strength of a found footage movie is it’s worldbuilding, but in this regard, Norwegian dark comedy/horror Trollhunter stands above them all. (Troll puns, I got ‘em all day.) It’s a movie that takes an inherently dopey premise and wins you over simply by, again, committing to the material 110%. When Trollhunter is not beating you over the head with a barrage of information (all delivered in Otto Jespersen’s silky baritone), its placing you face to face with each different species of troll, all of whom are rendered in pretty damn impressive CGI.

How the ending of this movie hasn’t been turned into a ride remains one of the greatest tragedies in human history.

(Not Creepy But You Should See It Anyway): Lunopolis 

Any overlooked or underrated found footage films you feel deserve a mention? Give us a shout on twitter @screenjunkies

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5 Greatest Found Footage Films Of All Time Thu, 27 Sep 2012 19:24:52 +0000 Wookie Johnson Does not include the Kanye sex tape.

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Sinister stars Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who moves his family into a murder house in the hopes of writing a book based off the strange occurence. But this isn’t just any ordinary murder house. This is the king of all murder houses, with at least five families having been slaughtered there under mysterious circumstances. Each of these grisly crimes are revealed as films of the murders are found in the attic and reveal a terrifying figure that comes to claim the life of whomever views him. Good luck with that, Ethan Hawke!

It looks to be a terrifying addition to the world of found footage films. We’ll know for sure when it opens in theaters on Friday, October 12th. In the meantime, have a look at the predecessors who will go down in history as fright classics.


Chronicle enjoyed a successful run in theaters thanks to 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. The combination of little-known talent and cost-effective but awesome special effects made for a great movie, even though the pay-off doesn’t really do justice to the build-up.


This story of a virus taking over an apartment building keeps the viewer guessing throughout. No character is safe, and 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.


Rob and Beth talking to the camcorder

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 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 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.

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]]> 0 Chronicle-Movie-2012 rec cloverfield ParanormalActivity02 blair-witch-project-photo2 The 8 Found Footage Projects That Got It Right Tue, 07 Feb 2012 20:22:46 +0000 Wookie Johnson How does 'The River' compare?

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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.

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Our 5 Guesses As To The Plot Of ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ Wed, 04 Jan 2012 16:43:16 +0000 Wookie Johnson A few potential pitches.

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Paramount has announced that (as suspected) Paranormal Activity 4 will be filming soon for release later this year. This news doesn’t really come as a shock since the films have proven to be the most profitable films ever. Shot on shoestring budgets, they all managed to earn no less than $100 million worldwide. Paranormal Activity 3 broke October records by opening with $52.6 million this past Halloween season. It only makes sense that there would be another film or two creatively as well. The series has set up a few situations that they’ve held back from explaining, leaving us with more questions than when we first sat down to watch.

So, it was inevitable that we’d see another go around of suburban hauntings. What remains unseen is what will this film be about? Many are crying (dumbly) for the series to eschew its found footage approach and shoot it as a traditional film. Others are suggesting (dumbly) that the action center around a new family. We figured we’d help out and pitch these potential storylines for future films. Note to Oren Peli: If you’re interested, we’ll work cheap.


Go Totally 90′s

If you take into account the clues already hinted at throughout the series, it’s likely the next film will follow Katie and Kristi into the 1990′s. It’s been referenced that the hauntings have happened throughout the sisters’ lives, most notably in 1988, 1992, and 2006. We’ve seen what happens in 1988 and 2006 which leaves the 1992 tapes as a missing piece to the puzzle. Here’s how they should approach it.

Eager to win the $100,000 prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos, Katie and Kristi have decided to tape every moment of their lives in the hopes that someone will fall in a hilarious fashion. But their efforts to meet Bob Saget prove misguided when strange paranormal occurrences begin to happen again.

The demon offers to help the girls win the prize money by hitting their mom’s boyfriend in the nuts with a softball while they film. But Kristi now knows better than to make any arrangements with a demon and refuses. To show how serious she is, she stops speaking to Toby and everyone else for months. This causes the demon to escalate his tormenting of the family and leads to many more creepy scares. The family bands together and flees the house, but the demon has planted several rakes which they all hilariously step on and hit themselves in the face. However, this tape is lost in the mail when it is sent to AFHV.

Show What Katie’s Up To Now

The biggest mystery of the series revolves around adult Katie. When we last saw her, she was possessed and had just kidnapped her daughter’s infant son. Fast forward to the present day. Katie is still in hiding with her nephew, Hunter. They pose as mother and son and live in a crappy Florida apartment complex when Toby the Demon finally tracks them down. Police (who are being followed by a reality television crew) respond to a neighbor’s call about a loud disturbance, finding and arresting Katie.

The news makes national headlines and Katie is subjected to cameras 24 hours a day between her cell and her televised trial. However it turns into a circus when the judge’s gavel and a bailiff are thrown across the room by an invisible force.

Kristi: The College Years

College is a time for experimentation and testing your boundaries, which means heavy drinking and sex. However, a lot of young people feel conflicted because they have boyfriends or girlfriends waiting for them back home. These relationships are typically forced to end as the newly found freedom and temptation prove too strong.

Now imagine that some girl’s ex is an invisible demon. Whichever film and video major that Kristi ends up with in college has a whole lot more to worry about than loud noises when Toby arrives to try to work things out with his child bride.

Focus On Grandma

There’s no doubt that Grandma Lois can answer all of the questions that surround the Paranormal Activity franchise. It’s time that a film give her some real screen time and help tie up the loose ends.

Just because she’s a rich witch doesn’t mean all her needs are met. A woman gets lonely sometimes and needs someone to help her feel young again. Enter Domingo, her live-in gigolo. In addition to the homemade porn tapes they make together, her boy-toy is also an aspiring actor. Therefore, he often spends his time videotaping monologues and audition tapes. One day, he stumbles across Lois’s secret and begins to explore the house along with his camera. What he finds puts him and the rest of his acting class in danger.

Give Hunter His Own Movie

To the best of anyone’s knowledge so far, the demon is after a first-born male for his soul. Would that mean that the demon feasts on the soul, or possesses the child? Either way, that could make for a terrifying creepy child twist on the series. Hunter is now a toddler and living with adoptive parents. Paranoid about the safety of their child, they send him to a daycare center that provides parents with piece of mind by setting a webcam in the room with all of the little students.

The demon sees the veritable buffet of young souls around him and begins throwing tables and slamming doors. He feeds off the fear that generates so that he can grow powerful enough to dine on them all.

However, one thing the demon didn’t anticipate is that the daycare provider is actually Detective John Kimble, an undercover cop trying to get a bead on the child of a ruthless drug dealer. Though people assume he has a tumor and has gone crazy, Kimble is certain that the strange activities are paranormal in nature, and he’ll will do whatever it takes to protect his class. In the final scenes, Kimble steals an enchanted sword that the coven has used to keep Toby under control. In a climatic battle on the edge of the daycare’s Hell Mouth (long story), Kimble plunges the sword through Toby’s chest. The demon loses his power of invisibility as it manifests just before dying. Kimble comments, “God, you’re ugly,” before kicking him into the Hell Mouth. Appeased with this sacrifice, the Hell Mouth seals itself shut.

Freed of the demon’s control, Hunter is reunited with his sister, Ali. And the police are all like, “Here. You raise him.”

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